Ticketmaster fail.Posted: November 12, 2011
I turned on the computer this morning to order Radiohead tickets. Stacey and I were excited to hear about their upcoming U.S. tour, especially since they’ll be playing Atlanta, GA, which is driving distance for us.
I opened the Ticketmaster.com website and quickly found the Radiohead tour page. And I immediately noticed a problem. The page informed me that Atlanta tickets were going on sale at 10 a.m. It did not mention a time zone. I guess I was supposed to assume Eastern Time Zone, since Atlanta is on EST.
As I had a few minutes to kill, I started reading some of the fine print and came across this message: “SELECT LOCATIONS are electronic Ticketmaster Paperless Tickets ONLY.” I read some more and found that Ticketmaster Paperless Tickets can’t be re-sold or given away. If you buy two paperless tickets, you must arrive at the show with proper ID and the credit card you used to buy the tickets. But there is no physical ticket–you’ve just paid for admission and a “plus one.” So whoever that person is must enter the venue at the same time as you.
This paperless thing would obviously cut down on scalping. But, wait a minute, what’s this “SELECT LOCATIONS” thing? Is the Atlanta show paperless? If I didn’t get tickets today, would I be able to buy them from a scalper later? The fact that this isn’t specified is a big problem.
I read a little further and found another problem. The ticket price is $69. That might sound like a lot, but, for a large arena concert by a popular band like Radiohead, $69 is quite reasonable. But the total ticket price is $80.65, because Ticketmaster adds $11.65 in “fees.” What exactly are these “fees?” Does they include sales tax or something? I don’t know, as I couldn’t find any additional info. Anyways…
I clicked through to the next page and noticed yet another problem. I was seeing a message that no tickets were available. Understandable, since it was a bit before 9 a.m. (10 a.m. EST). But, as it was almost 9, a more useful message would seem appropriate. Something like “You may purchase tickets for this event in 12 minutes, 53 seconds (click to refresh).”
As it was, I could only assume that Ticketmaster’s server clock was on the same time as my iPhone. So I waited till my iPhone showed 9 a.m. and hit the refresh button on my web browser and… got the same “no tickets” message. Hm. Maybe the Ticketmaster clock was a little slow. So I hit refresh again. And again. Waited. Another refresh. It was 9:02, and I was still getting the same message.
Then I noticed a detail of the message: “Tickets may not be on sale yet.” And I started getting angry. Were the tickets on sale or not? A company with a name like “Ticketmaster” should be able to, at the very least, tell me whether or not tickets are on sale for a particular event.
I called a friend who was also trying to get tickets. He’d gotten through and bought two tickets. And, he informed me, the tickets for the Atlanta show were not paperless. So I had to call somebody unaffiliated with Ticketmaster to find out two pieces of information–tickets are now on sale, the tickets are not paperless–that should have been front and center on the Ticketmaster website.
But, wait, had the show already sold out? At this point, was that what the vague “no tickets available” message meant?
A few more page refreshes later, and I finally got to a “search for tickets” page. All right! I chose three tickets from the little selector box and clicked the “find tickets” button. Then I had to fill out a CAPTCHA to prove that I was a real human being. Then I received this message: “Sorry, no exact matches were found, but other tickets may still be available.”
Wait a minute… the Ticketmaster.com website made me waste time deciphering a CAPTCHA only to tell me “no tickets?” And, then, the “no tickets” message includes the following vague information:
Try the following:
- Select “Best Available” or “Any Price”.
- Change the quantity of tickets requested.
- Double check your promotional code or password, if you used one.
- At the time of your search, another customer may have been viewing the tickets you want and then decided not to buy them.
Okay. The site knows I had already done the “best available, any price” option, so why bother suggesting that? The site also knows that I didn’t enter a promotional code, so that’s another pointless suggestion. After a few more tries, I deduced that three tickets together were not available.
So why did I have to choose “three tickets” and fill out a CAPTCHA to (sort of) find that out? If three tickets are not available together, why was that option even offered to me?
After more trial and error, CAPTCHAs, and unhelpful messages, I figured out that only single tickets were available. And not particularly good single tickets. I guess Stacey and I will just buy tickets from a scalper. Good thing they weren’t selling those paperless tickets for the Atlanta show.
I’d like to think that somebody from Ticketmaster will read this and make some changes to improve the Ticketmaster website. But that’s not going to happen, because Ticketmaster is a monopoly. If you want to buy a ticket to the Radiohead show in Atlanta, or any event (as far as I know) at Atlanta’s Philips Arena, you have to go through Ticketmaster. With no competition, they don’t have any incentive to offer customers a good web user experience or to explain (or reduce) their fees.
Next time I want tickets to a big show, I think I will save myself the headache and just go straight to the scalpers.