Let me state categorically this rant is NOT directed at any of the talent from this Thursday night’s Tragically Hip show at Shaw Park, but I have to get this off my chest first.
Ticketmaster you’ve managed to ruin yet another concert going experience thank you very fucking much, but let me begin at the beginning. As a dedicated live music fan I enjoy going to concerts as much as humanly possible. As I am in a position to do so, my friends and I often seek out the best tickets possible for these rare occasions for a night out.
When my circle of friends found out that one of our all-time favourite live acts, The Tragically Hip, were coming to town we were beyond the moon ecstatic. The chance to see a great live performance by Gord Downie and The Hip at their eclectic best in a small Winnipeg venue such as Shaw Baseball Park seemed too good to be true.
In an attempt to secure some prime seats my friend Jeff, a long-time member of every Tragically Hip fan club available and Gord Downie disciple, called the exclusive distributor of tickets Ticketmaster during a pre-sale event that was limited to Tragically Hip Fan Club members. Jeff being the obsessive Hip fanatic that he is, called the second the pre-sale opened and got a representative in short order. Fine and dandy, right? He asked the Ticketmaster representative for a seat in the front centre section as close to the stage as possible. Ok, everybody with me here? He was given 4 seats in Section 1 Row 9. Score, right on! Something didn’t seem right with those seats. In Jeff’s mind, being the logically minded individual that makes him so efficient when purchasing tickets, he knows that section numbering normally starts on the left and works inward; so Jeff asks to speak to a supervisor with a seating chart.
The Ticketmaster telephone supervisor confirms that on his seating chart Section 1 is indeed centre and Row 9 is just about in spitting distance from the stage. So based on the information from a Ticketmaster supervisor with an approved seating chart (who sells tickets off of a non-approved chart anyway?), Jeff buys the tickets.
We lucky four are all happy as clams as we arrive at Shaw Park home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball club. From the instant we set foot on Goldeyes property, I had a bad feeling this was all going to go wrong. Security seemed a joke, people wandered aimlessly looking for the proper gate to gain access, police cars lined the front drive, drunken teens and adults splayed over the hoods of cruiser cars. OH JOY!
I am sure that Shaw Park is a lovely venue for a Goldeyes baseball game but simply put it is not equipped properly to handle crowds of this size, vendors for beer and snacks were hit with lines that seemingly stretched forever. The field surface was lined with what appeared to be plywood sheeting with a plastic tarp duct taped to its surface. Creating a slippery beer covered uneven walking surface where it was impossible to determine where one board ended and the next began. I was witness to many people being pushed by the throngs near the beer lines falling on the slip and slide like moonscape surface ending up face down in a puddle of beer and mud. “Have a nice evening; enjoy your Shaw Park concert experience!”
However the well placed kick to the groin came when we were directed to our seats by one of the few ushers/security personnel. Were we being directed front and centre as promised by Ticketmaster and the now amended seating chart? No we were not. We were placed on the far left hand side of the field, about 30 rows back from the stage. Yes 30 rows back!
I can see you all scratching your collective heads out there thinking but Bob, you said you had row 9, how is it that you ended up some 30 rows back? Good question friends and one that Jeff and I went to go find the answer to.
So off to ticketing and customer service we go, once again fighting through the crowds and the slippery beer soaked beverage area. When we arrive there, low and behold we are not the only ones who received the bait and switch from Ticketmaster and the Goldeyes organization. I include the Goldeyes now because my story becomes a tale of ticketing screw-up hot potato, with no one wanting to admit fault and thus liability. After waiting in line this is what the Goldeyes customer service representatives told us. “Apparently”, yes I just used air quotes, as I have no way to type me rolling my eyes. Apparently the Goldeyes were given a seating chart that moved Section 1 from the aforementioned centre section to the extreme left of the field, oddly where it should have been placed in the first place. Stranger still the sections were made J shaped instead of having them in nice little straight lines or wedge patterns.
Hold on now and kindly remove any young children from the room. J shaped are you fucking kidding me? Who makes a seating section in the form of the letter J? I swear I am not making this up. So we stood there dumbfounded and slack jawed as we could hardly form words from this outlandishly stupid move. At our insistence to be accommodated a Ticketmaster on-site representative was summoned to placate our group plus the other astounded groups of furious fans. Including a father and 12 year old girl with Row 1 tickets who were originally seated on the extreme right hand side and far enough back to make Row 1 seem like a distant mirage.
The Ticketmaster on-site representative acknowledged the screw-up, blaming the Goldeyes for changing the seating last minute, and promptly moved us to the Row 16 Section 3. Placing us a full 7 rows from where we were promised seating, by a Ticketmaster phone supervisor, when we purchased our supposedly prime location premium priced ducats only a few weeks earlier.
Now as I stated at the top of my rant the show was electric. Hey Rosetta! Broken Social Scene and The Tragically Hipall delivered out of the park performances. But what is not acceptable is the bait and switch tactics used by The Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball club who hosted the event or Ticketmaster who sold the tickets.
After contacting both organizations neither one is willing to admit any wrongdoing or offer compensation for this deceptive practice. It is only after repeated attempts to clarify and rectify this situation that I have decided to go public. If you were at the The Tragically Hip show on the evening of July 7, 2011 at Shaw Park in Winnipeg and you received treatment like this please let me know. You can leave a comment for me and I will be sure to air them in an appropriate manner. If you are a representative for Ticketmaster, The Winnipeg Goldeyes organization or The Tragically Hip, also please feel free to contact me through my comments section.
Don’t leave me at the hundredth meridian or locked in a trunk of the car. Let’s get this sorted out people so we can all enjoy The Tragically Hip’s next roadside attraction.