Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bruce red-faced with Ticketmaster

So, not only did Ticketmaster's magnificent system fail (in everyone bar Ticketmaster's eyes) by not allowing people to buy tickets for Springsteen's US tour.

It seems the clunky organisation not only managed to send people 'page unavailable' messages. Oh, no. it found a way to add money-grubbing insult to poor-service injury:

Countless fans reported technical malfunctions during the onsale, while others complained that Ticketmaster forwarded them to the company’s secondary ticket site, TicketsNow, even though seats were still available through Ticketmaster.

This is what happens when a company is allowed to tout its own products as well, I guess.

The New Jersey Attorney General is going to have an investigation into the mess (which might seem to be a little extreme) and Ticketmaster have apologised to Springsteen, in the face of an official anger-spike from Bruce's people:
“Last Monday, we were informed that Ticketmaster was redirecting your log-in requests for tickets at face value, to their secondary site TicketsNow, which specializes in up-selling tickets at above face value. They did this even when other seats remained available at face value. We condemn this practice,” Springsteen and his tour team said in a letter posted on Bruce’s official site. “We have asked this redirection from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow cease and desist immediately and Ticketmaster has agreed to do so in the future and has removed its unwanted material from their and our site.”

Let's just look at the apology in full:
An Open Letter of Apology to Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and the entire Springsteen Tour Team:

While we were genuinely trying to do the right thing for fans in providing more choices when the tickets they requested from the primary on-sale were not available, we clearly missed the mark. Fans are confused and angry, which is the opposite of what we hoped to accomplish. We sincerely apologize to Bruce, his organization and, above all, his fans.

We recognize that we need to change our course. We have committed to Bruce and state publicly here that we have taken down all links for Bruce’s shows directing fans from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow. This redirection only occurred as a choice when we could not satisfy fans’ specific search request for primary ticket inventory, but to make sure there is no misunderstanding in the future, we also publicly state that we will never again link to TicketsNow in a manner that can possibly create any confusion during a high-demand on-sale. Specifically, we will not present an option to go to TicketsNow from Ticketmaster without the consent of the artist and the venue, both of whom work together to bring the joy of live entertainment to millions of fans.

If any fans inadvertently purchased tickets in the resale marketplace believing in error they were purchasing from the initial on-sale, we will refund the difference between the actual purchase price and the face price of the ticket. (Please don’t abuse this good faith gesture - we did not give brokers any preferential access to tickets.)

We are committed to helping deliver the most transparent and best live entertainment experience to fans. We will do better going forward.


Irving Azoff, CEO, Ticketmaster Entertainment

Heartfelt. Touching. Craven. One question, though, Mr. Azoff. You've apologised to Springsteen, and his tour team. How about - it's just a thought - saying sorry to the people who pay your wages? You remember the customers? How about saying sorry to them.

It probably says it all that - while belatedly trying to make ammends - even then, Azoff concludes that you can't really trust the public. "Please don't abuse this good faith gesture" indeed. From a company which has trashed the faith placed in it by Springsteen and his fans, they might want to be a little less swift to talk about their good faith.