Over the years there has been a lot made of TicketMaster and their control of the event ticket business. Back in 1994 Pearl Jam famously filed suit against TicketMaster and lost.
2009 saw a lot of concern over the merger of LiveNation and TicketMaster, a merger that would effectively make TicketMaster the single source for event tickets. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2
TicketMaster's track record in several areas is abysmal. I've never used a company though that pays so much superficial attention to customer service but in reality could not care less about it, as I found out recently.
Case in point. For a Christmas present, I bought my wife a ticket to one of Lady Gaga's Chicago shows. We set up a hotel nearby. We purchased airfare from Denver to Chicago. By early December all necessary reservations were made and my wife was extremely excited.
The shows were originally at the Chicago Theater, which near as I can tell is a small to medium sized venue. Several other cities also had her shows booked in what really amounts to smaller more intimate settings. This of course, is not TicketMaster's doing. Somewhere along the line, someone, I would assume the promoter or someone in Lady Gaga's management group got wise- hey, this is probably the biggest pop act of 2009, why are we booking her in tiny places when she legitimately could fill some larger venues? So they decided to move several shows. In Chicago that mean moving from the Chicago Theater to The Rosemont Theater. I believe Detroit and Orlando saw venue changes as well.
So far, so good. Now here's where it gets messy. So TicketMaster/the promoter sent out emails to all the folks who purchased tickets to let them know of the change. The email stated that all tickets were canceled, and that a new presale would take place where those folks who already had tickets could purchase new tickets. The email went on to say that if you have questions, follow this link (which went to the TicketMaster website and a customer service inquiry email form) or call an 800 number (which went to TicketMaster customer service)
So My wife and I were glad that there would be an opportunity to get her tickets to the show at the new location, but I was curious as to how it all was going to happen- would it be automatic? Would I need to re-purchase tickets and when would that occur? Would it be over the web or over the phone? What information would I need to provide in order to be allowed to participate in the presale? Remember, since this is an out of town show for us, there are more ramifications financially than just the tickets to the show.
I called the TicketMaster number and proceeded to work through the automated system (second only to CitiBank's system, for sheer stupidity, in my mind). I was able to reach a live agent finally. Friendly enough guy, who wanted to chat about the weather in Denver and how things were going. Fine, but let's get down to business. Of course he could not tell me about the specifics of the tickets I had purchased previously, because we had used my wife's credit card to purchase, and I did not have that on me. Not a problem I told him because all I really needed was to understand the process of how I would be able to get tickets for her at the new location. He kept reiterating the presale. I kept reiterating I was aware of that, but really needed to know the how and when please. He continued, tersely, to tell me how things would be taken care of during the presale. I asked when it would occur. He could not answer that question. Not even a "we don't know, call back in two days". I finally told him that this was no help. All I needed to know was how to purchase and when I should be doing so, and that it was ridiculous that he couldn't either tell me that information or when TicketMaster would know that information.
At this point, he told me "Sir, we just sell the tickets you know". Then he asked me if there was anything else he could help with. I could not resist pointing out that he actually had not helped me with anything to begin with.
See. Don't you get it? They just sell the tickets. I had previously acknowledged that this change of venue most likely had nothing to do with them. But at the same time, as the biggest vendor of event tickets, you would think they would be in better coordination with the promoters and also experienced in change of venues to the point where they would be able to figure out a smooth process in dealing with the situations. But it was clear that they did not care. Not one bit. About the inconvenience, About the lack of information. About the fact that these were a gift and all I wanted was to make sure my wife got to the show. They just sell the tickets. There responsibility is limited. They only sell the tickets.
Thankfully the presale information came out in another email a day or two later. It was specific to us as VIP ticket holders (that type of ticket was the only type available when I bought the ticket in November). I don't know if the folks with regular tickets got any details, but we'll assume they did. We were able to get tickets, cheaper ones in fact and a switch to a different day when the tickets went on sale to the general public. For a variety of reasons that worked better for my wife. The short of it though is in addition to all of the negatives TicketMaster is accused of with some regularity, I learned from this that they really could not care less about you, the individual consumer. That might be a No Duh moment for those of you who go to see a lot of shows. For me, I guess at this stage in my adult life I should not be surprised, but I was.