Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Exercise in Futility.... or Why I Hate Ticketmaster

Warning- a long post.  But the details make the story.
Next month I am tagging along with Michael on his New York city trip.  YAY!  An even bigger yay?  Alison agreed to see the Radio City Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular with me!  Ohmygosh!!!  I have loved the Rockettes since I began watching the Macy's parade.  In fact, each year when they appeared on the TV I leapt up from the couch and did my own solo kickline in the family room while my mom peeled 25 pounds of mashed potatoes for the family Thanksgiving dinner later that day.  The bookcases shook, I jumped around, hoping to be a Rockette some day.  Ironically, I fall within their requirement to be between 5'6" and 5' 10 1/2" tall.  I am not, however, proficient in tap or jazz.  Alas.

So this evening I logged on to the Radio City website to purchase tickets for my trip to Mecca-  I mean Radio City- in November.  Unfortunately, Radio City employs Ticketmaster as their distributor.  Have you ever used Ticketmaster?  They are awful.  You put in a price range and they inevitably give you the worst tickets in that price range, despite your request for 'best available'.  You cannot request a specific row or even section.  "Orchestra" and "Mezzanine" are as specific as we get with them.  Grrrr.

Now would be a good time to mention that I did a google search of the best seats in Radio City for watching the Spectacular.  The results were quite helpful..... any seat in NN through A.  Sections 300, 400 or 500. Tons of selection!  Lots of choices.  Excellent.

Due to the lack of specification options online, I decided to call Ticketmaster and request my specific seats. The first time I called, I waited less than 5 minutes to speak to Brian.  I clearly shared with Brian my preferred performance date and time and number of tickets.  After he asked my price range, I said I actually had a certain area of the theater in mind, regardless of price.  This resulted in much confusion from Brian, as he is evidently not used to searching this way.  I requested seats in double N as in Nancy through double Z as in zebra.  I was placed on hold.  No big deal.  Brian came back.  "I have two seats in row N, seats 308 and 309.  They are on the aisle"  I calmly explained to Brian that I actually wanted seats in "Double N.... Nancy Nancy" Row N is about 5 rows from the back, while row NN is about 12 rows from the stage.  Big difference, Brian.  I was placed on hold, and promptly disconnected.  Michael said he hung up on me because he was confused.

Undeterred by Brian's rudeness and/or incompetencies, I called back.  The wait time was again 5 minutes, but I had to jump through all these hoops with the electronic voice lady.  "Welcome to Madison Square Garden.  Radio City Music Hall.     Please state the name of the even you want tickets for.  Please state the date of the performace you'd like.   Now I will list all the times the show is performed that date.   When you hear the time yuo'd like, say it back to me"  GOOD LORD!  THis was not requried the first time.   I complied with crazy electronic lady and was routed to Alex.  I explained to ALex that I was on the phone with Brian and had been unexpectedly disconnected.  We went through the same song and dance with the performance date and time I wanted (evidently electronic voice lady and Alex are not communicating) I again explained that I did not have a price range but rather wanted to search a specific area of the theater for ticket availability.  Lucky for me, Alex seemed more with it than Brian.  He placed me on hold and came back to tell me he had seats in section 300 in Row T, and some other seats in section 500 in Row U.  Again, I reiterated that I was only interested in orchestra seats that were in double N (Nancy Nancy) through double Z (zebra zebra).  The rows he suggested were at the very back of the theater under the mezzanine.  I was not interested.  Alex put me back on hold, and I was promplty disconnected.  Again.

Grrr.  For the third time in 30 minutes, I redialed the 800 number for Ticketmaster.  I said "representative" to the electronic voice lady and this time had to wait 'less than 10 minutes' to get to an operator.  This time I spoke to Carlos.  Before we even got to my show of choice, I explained my phone woes with Carlos (and used the words 'very frustrated') and asked him for his direct line, should we get disconnected.  He was unable to do that, and asked if I wanted to speak to a supervisor about the problem.  I said I didn't care about a supervisor, just wanted to buy 2 tickets.  But I keep getting disconnected, and wanted to be sure to be able to complete a purchase, so I gave him my number, so he could call me.  Perfect.  We are off to a good start.  For the third time, I explained my date, time, and performance requirements to Carlos.  He even asked if I had a promo code.   "No I don't.  Do I need one to purchase these tickets?"  Carlos assured me no, that a promo code would give me a discount, but was not required"  He probably thought I was a nut.  I was on hold, but could hear Carlos typing.  A very good sign.   Carlos came back onto the line and said "Ma'am, I have seats in row NN, section ___"  and the PHONE WENT DEAD!   For real?

I gave Carlos a few minutes to call me back, and he didn't.  I actually said outloud: Come on Carlos.   I am getting very agitated.  Since Carlos didn't give me a direct number nor did he call me back, I had to call the damn 800 number again.  I shouted "representative" to the annoying electronic voice and waited, again, to speak to someone.  A woman (whose name I did not catch) answered and I explained my situation again.  Told her about disconnected phone calls, 45 minutes on the phone, and requested to speak to a supervisor.  The lady asked me my preferred performance date, time, and number of tickets, so that she could have it ready for her supervisor.  Then she asked to place me on hold.  NO!  I actually pleaded with her to please not put me on hold due to my track record earlier in the day.  She agreed to not hit the hold button and to instead place her headset on the desk.  I thanked her profusely.

Before too long, supervisor Luis came on the line to place my ticket order.   I told Luis about the issues with Brian and Alex and Carlos.  I expressed my frustration with calling Ticketmaster four times and being required to talk to the electronic voice and wait on hold in order to complete a simple transaction.  I want to buy two tickets.  I will pay any amount of money you ask.  Just get me into the damn kickline show.  I mentioned that Carlos said he had NN available but we got disconnected.  Could Luis please help me?  (FOR THE LOVE OF PETE)  Lo and behold, he could not!  All the seats in NN (Nancy Nancy) through ZZ (Zebra Zebra) in my requested section were available to American Express Gold cardholders.  The (few) available to the public had been sold.   The NN that Carlos had found was evidently in section 200, way off to the side.  Carlos offered me garbagey seats in the back of the house that I did not want.  I then asked if there were options in the lowest mezzanine level, since my website said that would be OK if no orchestra NN-ZZ were available.   Lucky for me there were two seats 6 rows from the railing, which is OK.  But I was still kind of ticket off.  I agreed to purchase those.  

And do you know what Luis said?  "How will you be paying for these tickets today, ma'am?  American Express is Ticketmaster's card of choice for transactions"  ARE YOU FOR REAL, LUIS?!  So without skipping a beat I said "Well, Luis, as we have already discussed, I do not have an American Express card, which is why I cannot purchase the seats I'd like.  I will be putting the charges on my Visa card."

In case you wondered, I did successfully purchase two tickets (on the visa card) and Al and I will be attending the show next month.  And we better like it after all that nonsense.

No comments: