Ticketshyster

At the risk of gloating, I would like to make all of you aware that I am going to the Radiohead concert in St. Louis on May 14.

Tickets went on sale on a Saturday morning in the middle of February, and my wife and I were sitting at the computer, poised to obtain tickets for us and six of our friends so we could all go as a group. I’ll spare you the details, but since Ticketmaster’s website made it clear that there was a four-ticket-per-person limit, we decided that I would by four, and my wife would buy four.

To be honest, I’m not the only one who was disappointed in the idea of buying Radiohead tickets through Ticketmaster. Radiohead’s immense popularity did not come as a result of heavy radio airplay (despite their name) or aggressive marketing. With the exception of providing some music for Baz Luhrmann’s immensely popular film rendition of Romeo & Juliet in the mid-90’s, Radiohead’s rise to prominence has been overwhelmingly grassroots. So it seems antithetical that they would rely on a corporation that so completely exemplifies “the man” to distribute their concert tickets.

Nevertheless, I didn’t make a big deal about it, because I figured it was probably a requirement of the venue (a corporately named, and corporately minded, humongous amphitheater) rather than a decision made by Radiohead themselves. Of course, the ideal concert in the minds of most RH fans would be in some dingy gothic theatre, or underground rave. But let’s be realistic… a venue that cool would most certainly exclude me (and probably you) from going, if only for its smallness.

So I didn’t complain about having to go through Ticketmaster. Until now. Remember I told you about that four-ticket-per-person limit? Well, like I said, I bought four tickets, and then my wife bought four tickets. So we had our two, and although we knew it would take a few weeks for them all to arrive in the mail, we started promising the other six to our friends.

Until we opened our credit card bill today. Because lo and behold, there was a charge for four tickets, another charge for four tickets, and then, three days further down the statement, a credit for the price of four tickets.

It turns out that their policy is not four-per-person, it is four-per-household. Whether it was a typo on their website, or an oversight on our part, they still let the transaction go through, making us think we had eight tickets, and forcing me to call several people today to tell them that we didn’t have tickets for them after all. (Try spilling those beans to a h-a-r-d-c-o-r-e Radiohead fan living in the Midwest.)

I argued with customer service about it, to no avail. The usual shpiel… “A website can’t be perfect, it let the transactions go through, and then when we discover later that two transactions have the same billing address, we canceled one of them.” B.S.

A website can most certainly tell when two transactions come from the same household, when they share a billing address, and especially when they share a credit card number, and a last name.

What bothers me most is not what happened. It’s that we had to find out by opening our credit card statement. Imagine going to a store and buying 8 shirts, and taking them home to give to your friends as Christmas presents, then having the clerk from the store sneak into your house that night, take 4 of them back, and credit your card for that amount.

Nonsense, right? Exactly.

Epilogue: After this debacle, I quickly called a friend who had tickets to the show, but only bought two, to see if he could get two more. Contrary to my assumption, the lawn tickets hadn’t sold out at all, and he was able to get two more, which was the exact overage of friends to whom we had promised tickets. Whew! God does care about Radiohead concerts. 😉

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