Her husband and uncle are ready to go Hog wild at the Cotton Bowl next month. But Melissa Houston has had some trouble securing tickets for them to see their beloved sixth-ranked Arkansas football team play #8 Kansas State in Arlington, Texas.
"He was just ecstatic and now we had to call and say well, there's a problem," said Houston.
The problem was the tickets Houston thought she had purchased through the official Cotton Bowl Ticket Exchange had apparently been given to someone else. Shortly after making the purchase, Houston received an email from Ticket Exchange that read:
We are currently in communication with the seller and verifying the availability of the tickets in your order. We will send you an Order Confirmation email once your order has been confirmed and finalized (usually within 48 hours).
The next morning, she was told her seats were no longer available. And in those few hours, prices had gone up. Seats comparable to the ones Houston thought she had purchased are now selling for about twice what she agreed to pay.
Promptly after you submit your request for tickets, you will receive an email notifying you that we have received your request and have begun the process of securing the requested tickets on your behalf. This email is not an Order Confirmation and it does not confirm ticket availability or the ticket price. Once the tickets you requested are secured by us, we will charge your credit card and we will send you an Order Confirmation email confirming that your request has been finalized and your purchase is complete.
Houston said the ticket buying process has been frustrating.
"There isn't an opportunity if you're just a regular sports fan looking for tickets. You essentially have to go through the third party sites," she said.
A spokesperson for the AT&T Cotton Bowl told FactFinder 12 Investigators this is the first year the game has partnered with a secondary market ticket seller. Officials have received about ten complaints so far and are monitoring the situation to see if the partnership will be continued in the future.
A spokeswoman for Ticketmaster and TicketExchange tells FactFinder 12 the secondary market seller does not control the inventory of tickets, nor does it set the prices, or fulfill the orders. A customer's request for purchase is sent directly to the owner of the ticket and that person must review and accept or reject the offer. In Melissa Houston's case, her purchase was made around 2:30 in the morning and then rejected the before noon the next day. Her credit card was never charged.
The TicketExchange site does not have the capability of removing a set of tickets from view, while a purchase is pending.
Spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson said fewer than 5% of all sales are rejected for one reason or another. An even smaller number of people experience a situation similar to Houston's.