'Frozen' tickets: Don't get scammed on Monday

John Ekeberg. Frozen

Here’s how to freeze out the third-party price-gougers
when Frozen tickets go on sale to the public May 1

By John Moore
Senior Arts Journalist

Yovani PinaAnyone who has attended a Denver Broncos game and passed dozens of ticket scalpers outside Mile High Stadium hawking tickets at well above face value knows that re-selling sports and entertainment tickets is big business. But how big? according to Northcoast Research, it’s a $5 billion annual industry.  

“This is a worldwide problem,” said John Ekeberg, Executive Director of DCPA Broadway. At the Denver Center, “the more popular the show is, the bigger the problem.”

And shows don’t get much bigger than Disney’s highly anticipated pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen in Denver. With tickets going on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, this is both “buyer beware” and “buyer be aware” time for all potential consumers.

“We have safeguards in place to try to keep tickets in the hands of those people who actually want to attend our performances,” said Yovani Pina, DCPA Associate Vice President of Technology. But he and his team are in a constant race against technological advances that help the secondary brokers get their hands on tickets they procure solely to re-sell for big profits.

Here are some tips to keep you from being scammed on Frozen tickets, and how you can make your purchasing experience go as smoothly as possible on Monday:

 7 tips to keep you from being scammed on Frozen tickets

NUMBER 1The Denver Center’s web site at DenverCenter.Org is the only authorized online ticket provider for Frozen. Do not buy from any other online source. You will pay more on any other site. Look for the Denver Center logo at the top of the page. Make certain that you see “denvercenter.org” in your URL. Don’t be fooled by sites with URLs that might even include official-looking words like “buelltheatre” in the web address. It’s all a ploy to make you believe you are buying from an official site, when you aren’t. Bottom line: On Monday, just remember “DenverCenter.Org.”

NUMBER 2When you buy tickets from the official seller, such as DenverCenter.Org, you are assigned an exact section, row and seat number – and your place is guaranteed. (See below.) A broker might only be able to give you a general sense of where you might be seated. If your ticketing outlet does not issue you an exact section, row and seat number, then you are dealing with a broker – and your seat is not guaranteed. 

YovaniAny legitimate ticket purchased from the Denver Center tells you your exact seat, as shown above. Oftentimes brokers can’t do that – because they don’t have their hands on any tickets yet.

NUMBER 3Frozen tickets start at $25, and the top regular ticket price, as of May 1, will be $115 (plus fees). So if any seller asks you for more than $115 (plus fees), something is probably wrong.

DCPA’s Yovani Pina talks tickets tips with 9News’ Jeremy Jojola

NUMBER 4For this show only, the Denver Center will only be mailing tickets directly to patrons. “Print at Home” will not be a ticketing option for Frozen – purely as a safeguard to cut down on potential fraud. So if any seller wants to email you tickets as a PDF to download, print and take to the theatre, know that it’s a fake.

NUMBER 5If you plan to buy tickets to Frozen online on Monday, here’s a helpful tip: Create your DCPA ticket-buying account today, so that your buying experience goes more quickly on the big day. Here’s where to do it.

NUMBER 6If you already have a DCPA ticket-buying account, know your password. Test it today so that, if necessary, you can change or verify it now so you won’t have any trouble purchasing tickets quickly on Monday.

NUMBER 7Don’t assume a lack of ticket availability. Even though Frozen is expected to be a high-demand show, “We are going to have a lot of tickets to sell on denvercenter.org,” DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg says. “People should not just assume that if they miss the first day sales that they are going to have to buy off the secondary market. Try DenverCenter.Org first.” 

The problem explained in greater detail:
How much difference does it make where you buy your Frozen tickets? Consider that  third-party online ticket brokers already are offering tickets to Frozen for more than $500 – more than four times the highest face value – and they don’t even have their hands on any tickets yet, because individual seats do not go on sale to the public until Monday.

One online broker already is offering tickets to Hamilton in Denver in 2018 – another show that has not gone on-sale yet – for an astonishing $3,030 a seat. Potential customers searching the web today for tickets to either of those hot shows might encounter similarly outrageous prices and think the Denver Center is gouging them – only it isn’t the Denver Center that is doing the gouging.

Wait: Isn’t ticket scalping illegal in Denver?
On the federal level, there is no law criminalizing the re-sale of tickets above face value. Ticket scalping is illegal in the City and County of Denver – which includes some parts of Littleton, Westminster and Aurora. In some surrounding counties, the practice is legal, for now. It is important to remember though, that even if you purchase a ticket at an inflated price from an internet broker, you are not allowed to re-sell that ticket for higher than the value written on the ticket in Denver.

How can brokers sell tickets they don’t have?
So how do these brazen broker sites put tickets on sale before they even have them in hand? “Essentially they are making promises to their buyers in the certainty that, one way or another, they will get their hands on enough tickets to satisfy their demand,” Ekeberg said. Bottom line, said Pina: They are gambling. And they are betting the house.

So how do brokers get their hands on real tickets to sell?
Ticket brokers employ “bots” that can access legit online ticket providers such as DenverCenter.Org and TicketMaster.Com. “Bots” are programmed to mimic an actual human user like you, using a program that can zip through the ticket-buying process much more quickly than you can. The DCPA has safeguards in place to weed these “bots” out. One powerful “anti-bot” tool is CAPTCHA, which has largely rendered “bot” software ineffective. But brokers are responding by hiring hundreds of actual humans to man server banks whenever high-demand tickets go onsale. The DCPA attempts to minimize the success of these planted broker-buyers by limiting every sale to eight tickets per account. Another safeguard: The Denver Center does not allow a single credit-card to be used from multiple computers. Still, Ekeberg acknowledges, the brokers will successfully amass an inventory of tickets. Just how many, though, is not currenty measureable.

Now that they have their tickets, how do they fool you into buying them?
Frozen screengrabThird-party ticket-sellers set out to fool you into thinking you are buying from an official website when you aren’t. One of the most common mistakes buyers make, Pina said, is trusting a Google search to send them to the right place. For example, if you search “Frozen tickets Denver,” the first two options you will see are actually paid ads from third-party ticket brokers. The official denvercenter.org outlet comes up fifth. (See the example above and right.)

“Most folks hear about a show like Frozen on TV or the radio, and they go to Google to buy,” Pina said. “But most consumers aren’t trained to notice that the first few options are paid advertisements. Take a second to look at your screen. These are sites that pay big money to look like the Denver Center when they are not. And if you click one of the wrong sites, you are going to find a ticket broker who is selling a $70 ticket for $500.”

What to do? Those who start at denvercenter.org will not have a problem. But those using Google should scroll down and see the Denver Center option. Denvercenter.org is the only place you can buy tickets at face value.

If the tickets are real, does it really matter who I buy from?
Beyond the obvious price inflation, consider this: The Denver Center communicates essential information to its customers before and after every performance. If you purchase tickets from a broker or any third party, you aren’t in the Denver Center database. So the Denver Center cannot, for example, re-print or replace your lost or stolen tickets. It is also has no way to contact you about time changes, weather alerts, parking or other news.


More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Frozen: At a glance:
FrozenAt a glance: From Disney, the producer of The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast comes the beloved tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves and their way back to each other. Be among the first to see this highly anticipated new musical before it makes its Broadway debut. This Broadway-bound Frozen, a full-length stage work told in two acts, is the first and only incarnation of the tale that expands upon and deepens its indelible plot and themes through new songs and story material from the film’s creators.  Like the Disney Theatrical Broadway musicals that have come before it, it is a full evening of theatre and is expected to run 2 1/2 hours.

Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
Aug. 17 through Oct. 1, 2017
Buell Theatre
Sales to groups of 10 or more here


Ticket information for Denver:
Single tickets for the pre-Broadway engagement of Frozen will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, May 1. Tickets start at $25, with a limit of eight tickets per account

Previous NewsCenter coverage of Frozen
Principal casting announced: Caissie Levy to star as Elsa
Denver Frozen tickets go on sale May 1
Disney confirms director Michael Grandage
Denver dates for Frozen announced
2016-17 Broadway season to include pre-Broadway Frozen

‘Frozen’ principal casting. Top row, from left: Caissie Levy, Patti Murin and Jelani Alladin.
Bottom row, from left: Greg Hildreth, John Riddle and Robert Creighton.

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