Today I joined a most prestigious club, Ticketmaster haters who have also been fucked over by them. You can read more about Ticketmaster’s monopolistic practices on Wikipedia.
I rarely go to big concert events/shows. I’m not into mainstream entertainment, and large venues aren’t the best way to enjoy a performance. But once in a while, an artist visits us who for whatever reason can only do those big venues.
And so it was that yesterday I found out that French & Saunders, whose show I loved back in the 80s, were coming to Sydney at last to play the Capital Theatre, and as a farewell tour.
Worried that I’d only just found out, I went to the Capital Theatre web site (which subsequently tells you that it is designed for Internet Explorer 5, like who uses that these days?). Amazed that web sites still use “Enter site” links, I clicked and ended up on their internal home page. Strangely enough, there’s no link to buy tickets, weird considering that this is their core business.
So I click on the Shows menu link, and suddenly a second level menu appears for every menu item, in really small type. Reading through all the menu items, none of them mention purchasing tickets. The Shows menu strangely has two second level links Current show and Previous shows, as if for some reason people visiting their site would be more interested in shows that are no longer on, than ones that are coming up.
Under the Box office menu, there’s a Booking details link, so I click on that and are presented with information about the box office, such as when it is open, special needs information and a quite large and useless photo. At the bottom, finally, is a section titled Ticket sales, and then a link to the Ticketmaster site.
Before heading over to Ticketmaster, I notice that the Links links at the bottom of the page, is just a page anchor link to… the line above it, which is… a link to their disclaimer and privacy statement. Brain dead.
So on to Ticketmaster, who you would presume are in the business of selling tickets, and thus their primary concern would be the happiness of their customers for potential return business. Their monopolistic practices may well compensate for the fact that they don’t really care after all.
The first thing you notice about the Ticketmaster web site, is that there’s no phone number on the home page. Their business is selling tickets, so we can assume that what they’re hoping to do is push people towards web purchasing, so they bring their bricks and motar costs down. Problem is, most people would like to speak to a person in order to get the seats they prefer. Everyone is different, and an automated system is never going to be able to suggest the best seats for everyone, instead everyone gets the seats that they aren’t perfectly happy with.
Without continuing the long narrative, basically you have to click on the Help menu item. Then a page of about 30 links appears. Under Ordering Tickets, you click on Ticket FAQ’s, which gives you a long scrollable page of FAQ questions. Right at the bottom, under a heading unhelpfully titled Contact Centre, is the text “Find your local Contact Centre number to order by telephone”. So click on the Contact Centre link, and a page of Order by Phone information is displayed. The first phone number listed is General Events/Enquires, and that’s the phone number to call. You’d think customers would be happier if the number was on the home page and titled Buy tickets by phone.
Once you navigate the phone menus, for French & Saunders there’s a choice between Premiere seating, Reserve A seating, and Reserve B seating. In this case they’d actually got the costs for each around the wrong way, with Premiere seating as the cheapest, and Reserve B the most expensive. If of course you knew what each kind of seating was. The phone menus don’t tell you, the web site booking doesn’t, and the Capitol Theatre doesn’t. Here’s some news for you Ticketmaster, we don’t all work in the ticketing industry, so how about explaining some of these obscure terms to us?
The next problem, after hanging up because the phone pricing was all wrong, was that most of the shows had already been sold out. Not because they’d been on sale for a while, but because Ticketmaster have this great facility whereby Mastercard subscribers are given two weeks free run at tickets before anyone else. Remember that Ticketmaster is supposed to be providing customers with the tickets they want. Instead, they’re giving people who read their latest Mastercard junk mailout and thought to themselves “Dawn French, wasn’t she in Vicar of Dibley?” all the good seats. And then anyone who is s member of the My Ticketmaster program gets a week of booking tickets ahead of the general public.
So by the time normal people get to buy tickets, all the good seats have gone. That’s just plain fucked, and the only people to blame are Ticketmaster.
I don’t have a Mastercard because my bank supports VISA, so that’s what I have, a VISA. It’s completely fucked up that I can’t buy good seats to a British comedy duo because of the deal that my bank has with a credit provider. That’s insane!
Ticketmaster should be selling tickets to everyone at the same time. Sure, they’ll lose a probably large sponsorship from Mastercard, but they’ll end up keeping more return business. I’ve never bought tickets from Ticketmaster before, because of their bad reputation. This has just reinforced that, and I will now never buy tickets from them. And may the artists who support Ticketmaster, have really bad audiences whose only real interest is what other shows they might be interested in because they own a Mastercard.
Ticketmaster have a lot to learn about customer satisfaction. As do French & Saunders’ management.