Tuesday, January 30, 2018

My Experiences with Ticketmaster

I love going to concerts and hearing live music - if I had unlimited money, I'd go to every live show coming through Pittsburgh that I had even a remote interest in. There's just something so electric about hearing music performed live - it's such an experience that you can't replicate on a CD.

But I hate buying tickets for these shows on Ticketmaster. I know that it's a huge platform, and that they're battling growing crowds and trying to keep bots from buying tickets meant for real people, but they really have work to do for sales of accessible seats.

I realize that I'm not the only one who gets frustrated with Ticketmaster. Each time a concert goes on sale, thousands of people are trying to access the site at the same time to get the best seats, slowing it down or even crashing it. But think about the last time you went to a concert at an arena or a stadium... how many of the seats were wheelchair accessible? The answer is not very many (any usually, none are in the floor section). So when I'm signing onto Ticketmaster, I'm not as worried about getting the best seats as I am about getting any seats at all.

For example... I had presale access to Justin Timberlake's upcoming concert last Friday. Generally, for each presale offered, only a certain number of tickets are set aside. When I tried to get tickets at 9:15, 15 minutes after the presale opened, it said there were no wheelchair accessible seats available. I figured this was an error, so I tried again around 10... and kept trying until 11. I tried the Livenation site, I tried the Ticketmaster site, and I even tried the Ticketmaster app - which, I found out, doesn't even have the option for accessible seats! The Ticketmaster site itself kept cycling between giving me an error, telling me there were no tickets, and showing me an outdated version of the ordering page with no place for my presale code.

So, I tried to turn to the phone, so that I could talk to someone at Ticketmaster and figure out what was wrong. Turns out, that wasn't an option either, because when the Ticketmaster lines are too busy they just tell you to "call back later" and don't even give you the option of being put on hold! I was feeling desperate, so I even tried the "Express" phone line, where you can order but not talk to anyone, but at 11 AM they still didn't have the option for my presale code in the system.

Which meant I had to resort to Twitter direct messages and the automated e-mail system. I will say that the representatives who got back to me on Twitter responded quickly and have been trying to help me, as did the representative who responded to my e-mail (two full days later). They confirmed that there were no accessible seats left in that presale, and when I pushed back asking how they could have sold out in the first 15 minutes, they agreed to contact the venue and try to get 2 more tickets released for me. But at the end of Friday, they said that the Box Office would contact me on Monday. And I'm glad they did, because when I tried to buy accessible tickets on my own yesterday morning, I still couldn't, because I got an error every time I tried. I honestly don't know if or how anyone else trying to get accessible tickets was able to get any.

I know this sounds like a little thing - I get it, it's just a concert! But it's the added frustration that comes along with what should be such a simple thing! I know that my choice of seats will already be limited, it just adds extra worry and stress having to go through all these extra steps to make sure I can even get a seat at all. I really think there has to be a better way for Ticketmaster to do this - to make sure that people with mobility needs have the same easy access to tickets that everyone else does. I think the Ticketmaster Verified Fan ticketing process is a step in the right direction, but there's definitely still a ways for them to go. The change needs to come from the top - as helpful as the customer service agents have been, I don't want to have to go through this every time I want to buy concert tickets.

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