When I was growing up and wanted to see a concert, it would, at times, be nearly impossible due to an infestation of ticket scalpers who would have their hands in ticket draws, making ticket prices unobtainable by the young. As time went on, laws governing ticket sales tightened, and although scalpers will never be completely gone, seeing shows had become less of a challenge.
As time went on, however, the greed once associated with the scalpers were adopted by an already overfed pig of corporate epitome: Ticketmaster.
Living in New York, one of the world’s biggest and most culturally aware cities, it has been a while since I had to deal with Ticketmaster, my second least-favorite company in the world. It proves far easier, and WAY cheaper to cut out the cancerous middleman and go directly to the venue to get the tickets for the event I’m interested in. Our public transportation system here makes it pretty easy, but every once in a while, getting to the venue it is just not possible.
That was the case when I was looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that someone special in my life almost a year ago, and what is better than the gift of music, especially for a music lover? Her favorite artist, Nick Cave, had announced a midsummer concert at Prospect Park in Brooklyn and having started a new job, I had no choice but to use Ticketmaster. I say this in the most negative tone possible since I had a previous horrible experience with Ticketmaster just a few weeks prior.
After logging onto the Ticketmaster site at exactly 10 a.m. EST when tickets for the show went on sale, I was offered a few options to choose from. Again, this was a Christmas present for a literal super fan, so, finally being at an established point in my life, I went for the VIP package, which included two VIP seats, two VIP lanyards and two limited-edition signed posters. Aside from making my gal super happy, I personally felt like I made it to a point where I could break free from those days as a kid and actually afford those awesome seats I always longed for.
Months went by, and the closer we got to our July 26 concert date, the more the excitement grew, but there was a little concern about our VIP swag. It wasn’t until the week of the show that our posters and, even more importantly, VIP passes finally came. After eight months, we were finally ready!
We got to the park on the day of the show with our tickets in hand and VIP passes proudly displayed around our necks. The way the Prospect Park is set up, upon entering you are pretty easily guided through the lines to get in. We checked out the merch stand and made our way to the gated area close to the stage where the seating was. It looked like this would be one hell of a night! We waited for a few people to shuffle in before we made our way up to the guard. “Can I help you?” She asked. We showed her our VIP passes and asked where we should go for our seating … and that is when the bottom started to fall out.
The guard had no idea what our passes meant and asked us to inquire about a special wristband from a help tent, which wasn’t too far from where we were standing. So we made our way over to the tent where we showed our tickets and badges — and were again met with very confused looks. No one had seen or knew what our passes even meant. After explaining our situation to three different people, we were escorted out of the concert area to a small VIP check-in tent by the box office.
“This must be the right place,” we thought. We had VIP tickets, and we were standing at the VIP tent. We once again explained our situation — third time’s a charm, right? — and were told our VIP passes weren’t worth anything. As far as the reserved seating that was sold to us as part of our $199 fee (each), no one knew anything about it. We talked to the person in charge of the VIP tent, and he said all seats for the show were now general admission, excluding the seated area, of course.
So now the special gift was reduced to a poster, a worthless trinket for $150 more than what everyone else paid and not to mention two wet asses from sitting on damp grass for the show my girlfriend waited nearly a year to see. How is this even possible?
Having spoken to Ticketmaster in the past, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that its position is to deflect any blame from itself and immediately blame the venues it represents. But if I am paying Ticketmaster for a service, as I am sure many people do, shouldn’t it accept some of the responsibility? It is typical corporate entitlement to which so many of us are held hostage to. When does this blatant disrespect for the people who use its apparently ineffective, broken system end? As soon as we — the people who control its cash flow and existence — decide we have had enough. Between preferred ticket sales, which have a way of keeping fans from seeing their favorite artists, scalper-esque ticket price additions and now blatant theft, which they will most likely not accept responsibility for, I have personally met my limit.
From here on out, if I cannot pick my tickets up from a venue hosting a show I want to see to avoid any interaction with Ticketmaster, I will not attend the event. The service is a textbook case of corporate greed and lack of accountability, and although my money will be of little loss to the company in the grand scheme of things, I hope that my story lets those of you who have had similar mishaps with Ticketmaster find some comfort in knowing you are not alone.
In fact, I’d love to hear some of your stories if you would like to share them in the comments below. I am not ready to give up this fight yet. Everyone must be held accountable for their actions — even corporations such as Ticketmaster.
Tom Roarty is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.