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Can Anyone Solve This Ticketmaster Riddle?

I am a passionate hater of  Paying a surcharge to a site whose main purpose it is to make it difficult for me to complete an online transaction seems wrong on every level.  Imagine you were forced to make every travel booking for any hotel you ever wanted to stay at through  That’s the equivalent of the monopoly Ticketmaster has, and it’s amazing in our world of increasing choice online that an old world monopoly like theirs has managed to last this long.  Here’s my latest frustration:


If you can tell me what this CAPTCHA actually says, I’ll give you a million dollars.  Just post your best guess, along with your swiss bank account number so I can wire you the money if you’re right …

Update (08/10/07): Here are two other CAPTCHAs that I got when going back to search for tickets for another show one day after writing this post (no joke).  I never realized CAPTCHAs could be so well branded, but at least they’re honest …



Now all they need to do is work on their poor spelling.

  • PB

    I believe you are “burnt”

    And the million $$s – I will take cash thank you very much!

  • Thomas Schmitz

    Last month I was online and on the phone with TicketMaster at the same time. As horrible as the online interface is, it consistently offered me better seats than the phone reps. Makes you wonder what software the phone reps are using.

    When I worked for Pacific Northwest Ballet I could go down to the box office and see a representation of every seat with X and Os. Os were open and Xs were sold. It was easy to pick the best seats…and that was the old text based green screen system. That was not our software; it was the ticket broker’s program. When I called TicketMaster phone sales I assumed they could do the same. Boy was I wrong.

  • Mike Keliher

    I know that your blog is very popular, so I hope someone from Ticketmaster sees this. I too hate Ticketmaster. There — I’ve said it, and now I feel better. Maybe I’ll have something more thoughtful to add later.

  • Sanjay Mayar

    If I squint into the light without my contact lenses in, I can see a “B U R N”

    Maybe ticketmaster is incompetent but still not without a sense of humour?

  • Corinne


    Ticketmaster is a pain in the … well, you know.

  • rahulb

    I’m squinting… I read it as “butt”. Perhaps I’m biased by their ass-inine service :-)
    I agree, it is astounding that they continue to charge exorbitant fees to maintain a monopoly with technology that I can only assume significantly _lowers_ the transaction cost for them.

  • glicko

    There is a new ticketing agency in Europe called Ticket Text that delivers tickets as SMS and don’t charge postage and packaging costs

  • glicko
  • Jay Tillery

    I blew it up in Photoshop. It’s “burnt”. You’ve made someone very wealthy.

  • kate f

    funny you mention this b/c a friend recently sent me this alterna-captcha – it uses hot-or-not photos to determine whether you are human:

    link to

  • Asylum-ET

    well I did not need photoshop or anything like that to see it. First glance says burnt. That is a piss poor excuse for a captcha though. Being that the text is already in an image and even has lines scribbled through it there is really no reason to then contort the text itself in any way. Thing that caused my reading of this was “Another reason CAPTCHA sucks. Well, the main reason actually.”
    That is miss leading. Captcha does not suck, That is a matter of opinion and while yes this particular captcha does in fact suck not all do. This is just poorly written captcha is all. As for my million dollars well send it to a childrens fund :)

  • Asylum-ET

    Funny to see you have a captcha after stating they suck :)

  • Rohit

    Interesting results – most people saw burn, burnt or butt, and all are relevant to either Ticketmaster’s brand, or how they treat their customers. And since I’d hate to misdirect any claims of suckiness:

    Ticketmaster = sucky
    CAPTCHA = fine

    You’re right, posting a comment to this blog requires you to fill out the CAPTCHA … I think it’s an automatic Typepad thing now. Now that I have it, I am also considering adding a surcharge to the blog too. And starting tomorrow, all my content will expire and disappear after 3 minutes of inactivity. I hope everyone reads fast. ;-)

  • Eyal Harofe

    I’ts easy – “borat”

  • David

    I think the first one says, “too many ridiculous fees.”

  • Kelly

    The Ticketmaster CAPTCHA is more of a guessing game than a security measure. I bought tickets through it a couple of months ago, and after failing to understand what the CAPTCHA actually said I almost gave up. I eventually made it through, but you can bet I will be looking for ANY other method of buying tickets next time!

  • Will Zweigart

    We all hate Ticketmaster, and there’s a great article here that sums up the monopoly:

    link to

    So what are our options for avoiding them? As you said Rohit, it’s honestly amazing the scam has lasted this long. You’d think someone would have outsmarted them by now.