Monday, February 9, 2009

Ticketmaster

Gosh, I can remember when you had to buy tickets to any event at the place the event was being held. Going to the Dodger game? You had to go to Dodger Stadium to get tickets. Now that wasn't too bad, you could buy tickets in advance to any game.

But Concerts were another story. When your favorite Musical act announced that they were going to have a Concert Tour, you'd check and see when tickets would go on sale in your area. The tickets would normally go on sale on a weekend, and you'd drive to the Venue and line up with everyone else who wanted to see the same concert. Some would get there early and sleep overnight on the sidewalk, much like people who wait in line for after Christmas sales.

Oh the good old days when Frank Sinatra...... I mean, Elvis Presley........... um, the Beatles........ er, the Eagles............ MC Hammer, B-52's, hmmmmmmm Coldplay! Yeah, um that's it...... I remember how long the lines were, and finally getting to the front of the line, only to get seats waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the back row.

Then, with the invention of the computer and Al Gore's invention of the Internet, you were able to buy tickets from Ticketmaster at multiple locations across any City/State, usually inside May Company or Wherehouse stores. Um, May Company was a Department store, in it's own separate building, malls were not invented. The Wherehouse was a record store. Um, a record was like a CD, but........... oh, never mind.

This was a great idea! So convenient! And your chances of getting decent seats was much better, even though I still ended up waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the back.

Then BAM! You didn't have to go anywhere! You could buy tickets online! Wow! All you had to do was sit at home in your underwear and buy tickets. And if you had Internet service with fast speeds, whoa, now you were more likely to get good seats! Finally, now that I'm old enough to hate LOUD music, I can be right there, next to the speakers! WHAT?

But as almost everything, good things don't last forever. Ticketmaster started adding surcharges. There's a "Convenience" charge, and a "Building Facility" charge. What's that? Who knows. Some charges are for shipping the tickets to you, which I can understand. I mean, if you're desperate enough to want the tickets sent to you in 2 days, you can pay $19.50 for UPS 2 Business morning shipping. At least Standard shipping is free.

But there's "Retail Location" pick-up for $1.00. Wait, I drive to your store, spend money on gas, and wear and tear on my car, and pay for parking to pick up my tickets, and I have to pay you $1.00 for, for........... for what?

And the even more ridiculous, "TicketFast Now" for $2.50. "TicketFast Now," is when they e-mail you a printable ticket that you use to gain entrance into the venue. That's right, you heard me right. You use your own printer, paper, and ink, and pay THEM $2.50!

So there I was, trying to buy concert tickets to see Bruce Springsteen. I have gone to just about every concert he's held since the early 80's, when I was a........... a........... an infant. I had 2 tickets and then the "Sorry, We were unable to process your order" page came up. Huh? I did everything right. I've been signed up with Ticketmaster for years, and had an account with them, so I didn't have to input any information. But it canceled my order. Then the concert sold out. I was unable to buy tickets. Nooooooooooooooooo!

Something was odd though. The tickets that were available to me were in the Upper deck, Concourse level. I was on it right away, I should have gotten better seats.

Then I saw it. Something called "Tickets Now." It is a separate website by Tcketmaster that allows people who bought tickets to any event, to re-sell their tickets, just like Stub Hub. AND tickets for Springsteen's concert was available immediately. Can you say "Scalper?" Was my eyes seeing it right? It looked to me like Ticketmaster was Scalping tickets that they were selling for regular price, just a few seconds ago.

Can you say, "WTF?"

There was only one date for the concert, and I felt out of luck. Then came the announcement that a second concert would be scheduled. Okay, I get a second chance. This time, it was going to be different. WHAT! Almost the same thing. But I didn't get bounced. The tickets available to me were once again, in the Upper Concourse level. I was on it right away, was it sold out again? No, not as fast. No matter how many times I tried, I got offered only Concourse level seats. Whether I chose 1, 2, 4, or 6 tickets, I got only Concourse level. I didn't buy any.

I talked to another friend who also bought tickets. Although she got decent seats, she too was offered tickets to the same area over and over, Second level, behind the stage. How could we have the same experience? Getting offered seats ONLY in one general area? Something is fishy! I guess somehow it can be programed into the system, that you can get certain seats and not others, but why would they do that? And is it worth it to them? Maybe so that they could get the good seats for themselves so that they could Scalp them on their other site?

The last few concerts I went to, people were scalping tickets at face value to seats that were better than the ones I had in my hand. I'm pretty sure I will get to see my favorite Artist scream sing his songs, so I'm okay with not having the tickets right now.

But this worries me for the next time I buy tickets to other things. Will I get a fair chance to buy decent seats? Will I get bounced again?

Live Nation, a Concert promoter, was starting their own ticket selling service, and it was great news to me. Finally, Ticketmaster would have competition. Competition usually means prices go down, and service gets better.

Just this past week, it was announced that Ticketmaster was trying to buy Live Nation. Damn! What's next?

1 comment:

PuPCakes said...

i used to work for ticketmaster, or rather Tower Records. We had people line up, sometimes for several concert tickets that were going on sale at once. Issuing wristbands was well into effect when I worked there (i'm not THAT old!) and I can tell you that ticketmaster was corrupt even then...
I hope they go down!