Ask LH: How Can I Make Sure I Don’t Miss Out On Tickets?

Ask LH: How Can I Make Sure I Don’t Miss Out On Tickets?

Dear Lifehacker, I have just missed out on buying tickets for the concert of a lifetime (Prince in my case) after getting partway through the process and then landing on an error page. This is a very common occurrence. Are there any techniques or strategies that you know of to beat the pesky time out on the major sites, any way around the annoyingly-impossible-to-read security pictures (CAPTCHA) and any way to improve my chances of securing those all-important tickets? Thanks, Purple Strain

Dear PS,

Buying tickets online is a risky business. For high-demand events, site time-outs, a lack of access to the seats you want, and a mounting sense of frustration are very much the norm. There’s no guaranteed way to get around these issues (short of sleeping with the promoter) and CAPTCHA is a suckfest we’re all stuck with, but there are a few tactics that are worth bearing in mind:

Register for fan clubs and email newsletters for artists you like. There’s often an early preview sale promoted through these channels before regular tickets go on sale. This is an easy thing to do which means lots of people will try it, but it still can make a difference.
Make sure you’re already signed up for the relevant ticketing company. Virtually every ticketing site will require you to have an account before buying a ticket. Set this up in advance, rather than risking losing out because server overload means the registration process isn’t working.
Review the venue map in advance. Have a copy of the venue map open in a separate tab before bookings open so you can quickly judge how good the seats are. Again, this isn’t infallible — seating can vary heavily — but every second saved can help.
Try the mobile version of a site. It won’t always work, but sometimes using the mobile version of a ticketing site — an address starting with m. rather than www. (such as — can be more responsive and less competitive than the full-blown site.
Make sure your credit card is functional. Having a card rejected because of an insufficient balance just when you have the perfect tickets is an easily-avoided annoyance. Also make sure you know the correct registered address to avoid last-minute rejection.

Nothing will guarantee good tickets, especially for short-notice acts like Prince who can easily sell out a venue with virtually no promotion, but advance planning can definitely help.


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  • So.

    Someone should ask why ticketmaster and tickertek go down but the tickets end up on ebay.

    The answer isn’t a conspiricy so much as an extremely well designed and organized and selective DoS attack.

    Ticketmaster won’t talk about it, but if there were any IT journalists in Australia they should do some digging…

  • I cringe when I see any tickets I want being sold on ticketmaster they have the worst site of the bunch requiring you to type illegible words thousands of times before revealing if any tickets are still available in the section you request. Much prefer Ticketek.

  • Along with the official fansite, for big artists and festivals keep an eye on music forums and other Aussie forums (fasterlouder, whirlpool etc).
    If the event is big enough there will be dozens of others posting on their progress and revealing any pitfalls or shortcuts.
    The old BDO forums, for example, discovered the secret to skipping the queue for 2007’s splendour in the grass tickets when they went on sale.
    In 2012 I would suspect Twitter would be another good resource for monitoring other’s progress and recommendations during a sale event.

  • If possible, get your credit card’s concierge service to buy these on your behalf. They tend to get there faster than the bogged down sites.

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