Right now, I think Jennifer and I deserve to feel like we’ve been ripped off.
Two nights ago, we went to go see Styx and REO Speedwagon at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, better known in these parts as the Woodlands Pavilion. For those people not familiar with it (which won’t be anyone in the Houston area), it’s an open-air concert venue about 30 miles north of downtown Houston. One of its most defining features is the lawn seating; the back half of the audience area is a grass area where you can just sit anywhere you want. You can bring in your own blankets to sit on, or you can rent a lawn chair for $6 apiece. We almost always choose the lawn option, as you can get good seats there while still able to see the stage.
As we were driving up to the Woodlands Pavilion, we remembered that we had seen emails from both the Pavilion and from Ticketmaster that a pre-sale for Journey, Pat Benatar, and Loverboy was going on. I admittedly have a soft spot in my heart for Journey, as I consider them a bit of a geek friendly band. Not only did they provide two songs for the soundtrack to Tron, they were the first band ever to have a video game based on them. Jennifer loves their music, too, so we decided to buy tickets. We picked two lawn seats priced at $32.50, bought them, and were good to go.
Fast forward to this morning. I was checking Twitter, and the official Twitter account for the Woodlands Pavilion announced that tickets for lawn seating were on special for $20. Feeling more than a little annoyed, I replied asking if there was anything I could do to get the $20 price, and they said there was nothing they could do, but that they wished they could do something to help. I ended up contacting Ticketmaster asking for help. They were very unhelpful and unapologetic, saying our tickets could not be refunded or exchanged, and that they were not responsible for changing the prices. According to the representative I spoke to, those changes were done by the promoter or venue, and was not up to Ticketmaster. I ended up thanking them for nothing and hanging up.
Now, keep in mind that normally I don’t have a problem with prices going down or specials later on that I miss. The problem we had was that we essentially paid $25 for the privilege of buying tickets “early”, for a venue that likely will not sell out. Worse, they dropped the price the day the tickets officially went on sale with no warning. From this point forward, why would I buy tickets early when there’s now a history that the price will drop the day they officially go on sale?
The worst part came after I got off the phone with Ticketmaster. I had tweeted to the Pavilion that Ticketmaster had blamed them or the promoter. Whoever was manning the official Pavilion Twitter account said they didn’t think it was them, but that they would check with the box office. Sure enough, they confirmed that it was the promoter that was behind the price change decision. The promoter, in this case, is Live Nation. Live Nation, for those not aware, merged with Ticketmaster over a year ago.
In other words, they changed the price and then used weasel terminology to absolve themselves of any wrongdoing.
Jennifer and I will still go to the concert, but the whole experience has been soured by Ticketmaster’s actions. I don’t blame the Pavilion at all; even though they couldn’t help us, they were still far more sympathetic to our plight than Ticketmaster was. I know now that we won’t be buying pre-sale tickets through Ticketmaster anymore, as they’ve shown there’s no benefit to it. I just wish there were alternatives to Ticketmaster out there, as most venues I know of use them for ticketing. I wonder if this could be used as an example of a monopoly that does not benefit customers.
It certainly didn’t turn out to be a benefit to us.