If you’ve ever bought tickets to a big sporting or music event, you’ve probably had to deal with TicketMaster and their extortionate handling fees. They charge it even if you’re using the print-at-home eTicket format called TicketFast. These tickets have a 16 digit number and barcode that is scanned at the gate against a database of purchases. I assumed this barcode was some kind of proprietary format to make it harder to clone tickets if you knew a valid number but it turns out it’s just an interleaved 2 of 5 barcode.
This doesn’t matter as long as customers keep their 16 digit number secret but a simple search of eBay and other buy/sell sites often have photos of seller’s printouts. As long as you can make out the number, you can create a barcode and paste it over another TicketFast and clone the ticket. Then you just need to get to the venue before the real ticketholder and their ticket won’t scan at entrance. Here’s some images I found on eBay, DoneDeal and Gumtree coming up to Electric Picnic recently. It was sold out and demand was high. I presume showing these tickets is OK now seeing as the festival is over.
I used this fantastic Barcode PHP library to generate the new barcodes. I needed to make a few adjustments to the code to get the barcodes looking the same as the TicketMaster ones but I think they ended up good. Take the last image as an example. You can just about make out the number to be: 3458 4242 6099 3291
And here’s my generated barcodes in both horizontal and vertical format:
They scanned fine on my Android barcode reader but I obviously didn’t test at the festival entrance with real stolen tickets as I’m not a scumbag and I had my own two real hardcopy tickets. I’m surprised nobody is stealing tickets like this as you always can find these numbers on the auction sites. Or maybe they are on the sly. Has anyone ever been refused at an entrance with printed tickets? They probably just blamed their seller but it could have been a randomer who just got the number, printed out new tickets and got to the venue early.
I think Ticketmaster should educate buyers more about how important the number is and to always pixelate when displaying online. Or they could have used a proprietary barcode format which would make cloning much more difficult.
In 1995, I worked at Ticketmaster and wrote the firmware for a device to network bar code readers and feed a stream into a PC. It had an 8-channel RS232 serial-port and with keypad and display. I also worked on an actual CCD bar code reader, that never went anywhere. Yeah, interleaved 2 of 5.
I am a very small bus operator i bus, I transport Students from a student village to the university, I need something like a code scanner or some kind of ticket for this, 360 students are living in the village, and they are entitled to travel on the bus, but all around the Village there are students living that could easly get on the bus, and not entitled to travel on it, if I dont have some kind of system in place, all students have a Student ID card supplyed by the college,maybe some thing could be done with that, I dont know, I just saw the comments and thought you or some one might have a Idea about this regards Donal Joyce galway ireland
My bar code reader had a linear CCD with like 2048 pixels. It moved a ticket on a belt. It made a 2D image to read horizontal or vertical barcodes.
Long story short, our reader did not perform as well as top-of-the-line hand held off-the-shelf units. If we had used ours, we could have invented our own code. If you must use off-the-shelf units, you have to use a standard code.
Well that clears it up then. I never thought of them having to get custom hardware readers, it makes perfect business sense for them to just use a standard barcode.
Thanks for the insight, crazy the quality of commentator you get from HackerNews!
I was almost refused in with an eventbrite ticket. I think this was a case of user error, the ticketperson scanned it and then did a rescan because of unfamiliarity or some other issue (probably not noticing the first one being positive). I think the best backup procedure would be to verify ownership record of the ticket – which would be a problem for gift tickets or scalped ones.
Hi, I have received a Stockholder declaration form with the barcode
3458 4242 6099 3291, ie the same as what you had on the blog when discussing ticketmaster bar code format. Does this mean the bar code on the stockholder declaration form is suspect?
Did you use this as a ticket. I’ve got one I just don’t know if it’s legit.
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