Frustrated customer: Tickets.com’s ‘convenience’ fees an insult
BY STEPHANIE ZIMMERMANN firstname.lastname@example.org May 31, 2012 1:20PM
THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:17AM
D ear Fixer: I had an extremely unsatisfactory experience dealing with Tickets.com when trying to purchase tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s Sept. 7 concert at Wrigley Field.
The short version of the story is that I entered the virtual “ticket line” at 10 a.m., when tickets went on sale. It took 35 minutes to reach the “ticket booth,” at which time a pop-up window instructed me to click a green button within 4:59 to continue to the purchase and obtain my tickets.
I did so and was redirected to a page which read: “Forbidden.”
It said I did not have permission to access the purchase portion of the website.
Refreshing the browser or going back one page to the pop-up window repeatedly failed to generate a different response — I always got the “Forbidden” page.
I launched another browser to look up the Tickets.com customer service page. It listed their email address (though no phone number), so I created a few screen captures and sent in my complaint.
A few minutes later, I received an automatically generated response, which contained the helpful advice, “If your event is within 24 hours, please contact Tickets.com by phone.” However, the message didn’t contain a phone number, and as I mentioned above, Tickets.com had omitted its phone number from its customer service page.
Fortunately, a Google search led me to a GetHuman.com, which had Tickets.com’s phone number, (800) 225-2277. I waited on hold another 40-plus minutes before I finally connected with a customer service rep. She processed my order, though by that time tickets had been on sale for more than 75 minutes, so all that was left were scattered seats in the upper decks, which made it impossible to find a pair together for me and my wife (who wanted the tickets as a birthday gift for me).
The best we were able to get was two single seats in the same row.
The biggest joke about this whole experience? The tickets were $80 each, but within the $198.30 we ended up paying, there was a $30 “convenience” charge!
Please explain how Tickets.com made this transaction “convenient” for me!
These charges have always struck me as egregious; it was bad enough when they added $3 to $5 to the cost of a transaction. But to charge us $30 when “convenient” was the LAST thing Tickets.com made this transaction is a complete insult.
Dante Bacani, Chicago
Dear Dante: The Fixer agrees; all these fees are getting a bit insane. It’s bad enough paying a nickel for forgetting your grocery store card or 50 bucks for (god forbid) bringing a suitcase on an airplane trip. And now $30 extra just for the privilege of buying expensive concert tickets?
We took your complaint to Matthew Gould, VP of corporate communications for MLB Advanced Media, which oversees Tickets.com. Gould seemed to be genuinely troubled by your bad experience.
He got his IT department to try to determine what went wrong with your purchase, but unfortunately, finding each keystroke was a bit like hunting for a needle in a haystack. They could not find any systemic problems with the site. Gould said subsequent ticket sales for another Springsteen show in Chicago and one in DC went fine. (He said two other consumers complained about the sale for the Sept. 7 concert; however, one had his own connectivity issue and the other was purposely blocked from purchasing.) So your problem is a bit of a mystery.
Since this was a unique situation, Tickets.com has decided as a goodwill gesture to cover the fee for you. (He said that since they’re not the promoter, they don’t have the ability to upgrade your seats.) He added that they’re looking into better publicizing the Tickets.com phone number on the website.
Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at suntimes.com/fixer, where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer can’t personally reply to every problem. Letters are edited for length and clarity.