Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Rant

I had an experience this weekend (actually, starting on Friday the 13th) that has completely opened my eyes to greed and corruption that I hadn't realized existed. Purchasing concert tickets. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that I have usually had pretty good luck with purchasing concert tickets. Row 2 for Chicago, row 1 for Leanne Rimes, row 4 for James Taylor, row 6 for Blue Man Group, .... the list goes on. Until the "Great Elton John Ticket Fiasco". And his return concert. I've only tried to buy concert tickets once since then. But I had NO idea how bad things have gotten.

I have a friend that asked me to help her out with getting tickets to a particular show. A show that she promised her daughter that she'd get tickets for. A show that the daughter was elated beyond words to go see. The friend wouldn't have computer access, but I could be online before leaving for work. Sure. Great. No problem. She said she had tried with a pre-sale the day before, but they had all been sold out by the time she tried. No problem. I got on to Ticketmaster to familiarize myself with the concert, prices and times. I noted that there were about 5 or 6 different pre-sale promotions for this concert, it was in (what the business would call) a small venue, and the priciest ticket was $49.50 (not including fees...), so I'm figuring about $60 each. No problem. To include some friends, she wanted me to order 6 tickets. No problem.

Friday morning rolls around, it's seconds before 9:00 AM, and I'm feeling pretty good. At the stroke of 9, I'm logged in. I request 6 tickets, best seating, any price. I do the incredibly illegible captcha thing. It's "looking" for tickets. And I get the dreaded "we cannot find tickets to match your request" window. Fuck. I immediately go back and change to 4 tickets. Same thing. For 20 minutes this went on. I even went as far as to try just 2 tickets. Nope. I have failed. But here's where it gets worse.

I call my friend to let her know the bad news. She's distraught, and I'm feeling bad because I've let her down. "Go check eBay. Go check StubHub." I found tickets. Lots of tickets. Lots of sites with tickets to sell. There's plenty of tickets for this show. If you wanted to pay. We communicated back and forth, and she reluctantly said to try for the best I could do. And only order 2 tickets. The friends can fend for themselves. So I got online, and found that the prices were rising by the minute. There's plenty of story to tell, but for the sake of keeping it short...the final tally for TWO tickets that were advertised at $49.50 apiece--$388.00! And change. WTF???
Tickets: 2 x $161.00
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Discount: [3.00%] - $9.66
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SubTotal: $312.34
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Service Fee 2 x $30.59
Delivery: Standard Delivery $15.00
========== ==========
Total: $388.52
(Note: Total does not include any applicable state or local sales taxes.)
Where to begin?? The 300+% markup in the price of tickets? The whopping 3% discount (which I'm not sure why I was eligible)? The $76.18 tacked on for delivery and service fees?? I don't blame my friend for spending the money. Personally, I wouldn't do it. I don't need to go to a concert that badly, and have missed out on many for the same reason. But I'm not a parent. I'm sure that there's plenty of them out there who would do the same. What is truly nauseating are the actions of the ticket brokers. How can they get their hands on these tickets before the general public? Why should I have any problems getting online at the stroke of the hour and still not get tickets? I read an online article from the local newspaper that indicated that there were no actual tickets to be sold by the time they opened up to the general public. I don't know if that's true, but it certainly seems to be!

My friend will get to go to this concert, and she'll be there with her daughter. It will be a great mommy/daughter bonding thing. The daughter will have no idea nor care in the world about how her mother had to fork out big bucks. She'll probably want a t-shirt or something too. And my friend will climb the stairs to the second to last row (but dead center-ish), enjoy the concert with her daughter, and swap stories with the other parents around her who also forked out almost $400 (or more) for the experience. Ticket brokers are now, officially, the lowest form of scum in my book (well, just above Blogger commenting trolls, but that's still plenty low...).

Edit: I just did a quick online check for similar tickets for this concert...up to $190 each for poor seats, and into 4 figures for better ones. It's a crime.

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