Hip and Miss: Ticketmaster and Goldeyes bungle what should have been a home run.

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.

Photographic proof of J shaped sections. The row ahead of row 16 should be 15 not row 42.

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.

Funny, this does not look like Row 9.

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.

Even Gord Downie is outraged at the ticket snafu.

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.

11 responses to “Hip and Miss: Ticketmaster and Goldeyes bungle what should have been a home run.

  1. shameful. Ticketmaster should be destroyed.

  2. That sucks! Hope you get it sorted, some sort compensation at least.

    Great to hear the show was good anyway.

    • Look forward to an Excellent review of the performance coming soon! I have sent copies of my post to The Hip, Ticketmaster and the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

      Hopefully this will get worked out somehow, but all of our calls to Ticketmaster have been given the too bad so sad line, and the Goldeyes are claiming no responsibility either.

      The only interested party seems to be The Tragically Hip themselves.

  3. I posted a review on ticketmaster Bob and gave the show a 1 star and titled it Ticketmaster and Shaw Park were TERRIBLE!!! I also posted it on Facebook. Here is what I wrote:

    I have been a faithful Tragically Hip fan for 15 + years and haven’t missed a concert since the mid 90’s as they are always Amazing live but Ticketmaster and Shaw Park ruined my experience at this concert. We purchased our tickets on The Hip Members presale as did other friends who are also faithful fans and all ended up with terrible seats along the side of the stage. We bought them as soon as they were available and people who bought them days before the show got first few rows centre. We complained to customer service and got upgraded to centre stage atleast but farther back than our tickets purchased months prior to the show. We contacted ticketmaster about this as we did select best available reserved floor and got the run around from ticketmaster and were basically told the venue decides when and where to release what tickets. I will never attend another concert at Shaw Park and will never recommend friends or family attend a concert at Shaw Park. I feel that Shaw Park treated the presale fans terrible by not allowing them to purchase best seats for this concert. I also feel they need a better description of reserved floor seat set ups so fans won’t be tricked into thinking they’ve purchased good seats when in reality they are not.
    The Tragically Hip and the opening bands were great to watch and listen to and I give the bands 5 stars but the venue doesn’t even deserve 1 star as it was terribly set up and run.

    • Thanks for chiming into the discussion Kyla. Hopefully we can get this all worked out to our satisfaction now that Ticketmaster has gotten wind of this posting. As I said earlier, I can be a brute but I get results!!

  4. Fak………………….
    Sorry that you had to deal with such bullshit.
    I wonder how many people were screwed around by this.
    I know I would be pretty mad by the whole situation, and very unfortunate for the people who did bring their kids.

    I am seeing them twice next week. The once venue justeld a KISS concert 2 weeks ago and I have not heard for any issues so I am looking forward to a smotth concert.
    The other one is in Edmonton, outdoor venue. I have VIP tickets so I am fairly confident it should at least be organized chaos.
    I look forward to your follow up of the shit show and your reviews of the music!

    • Hopefully your show experience will be better than ours, although I have gotten an e-mail request for a discussion from a district manager of Ticketmaster. Hopefully something will come of this sooner than later.

  5. Hi there,

    I’m the Jeff referred to in the article. Nice job in setting the scene, by the way, Bob! I got nowhere dealing with Ticketbastard but I did send an account to The Hip as well. I know they’ll at least be sympathetic to the woes of their fans, whether any “compensation” is delivered or not. Truth is, I’m not looking for some kind of payback, and I don’t think most of those who shared a similar experience will be either. I would like to think that these types of screw-ups could be avoided in the future, however, with a little attention to detail and better communication between venue, promoter, and ticket seller. It’s a shame that TM has the monopoly on the market that they do. In reality, I don’t expect an improvement on the part of “The Master”, since their customer service has been atrocious since the dawn of automated phone calls and budget cutbacks. I remember the day when you could actually view a seating chart, request a specific row, section, seat, whatever you wanted. Aisle seat? You got it! Group of 4 with 2 in one row and 2 behind them. No problem! Now you’re at the mercy of “best available”, and in this case that meant wherever the Goldeyes deemed appropriate. Row 1 following row 24? Even a child could do better at organizing those seats.

    I didn’t even mention the silver “slip and slide”. Bang-on comparison! I suppose the idea was to cover the mud and grass infield in the event of rain, but this was a horrible idea in practice. I’ve never walked through a mine field, but save for the danger of getting blown to bits, I imagine it would be a lot like this. Uneven ground, plywood, electrical cables and whatever that solid metal object was that I stubbed my toe on (a sprinker head, perhaps?) are easier to navigate if you can actually see them.

    Here is the e-mail that I sent to The Hip:

    Hi guys,

    First of all, fantastic show! Great sound, great lighting, great venue, beautiful night, and of course another knockout performance from the only band I would ever pay to see 12 times. Love the new material! The 3 song prelude to what I’m hoping will be a new album had me hooked. I’ll be first in line at the “record store” on release date (yes I do still buy the hard copy) and I’m looking forward to show #13 already.

    There were other factors at play Thursday night, however. No fault of The Hip, but Ticketmaster and the event organizers dropped the ball. When I was originally purchasing my tickets during the fan club presale, Ticketmaster’s venue map didn’t show section numbers for the floor seats. I of course wanted to be as up-close-and-personal as possible, so I got on the phone with a ticket representative. This person didn’t know the proper layout, but put me in contact with a supervisor who assured me that she knew exactly how the sections would be set up. She said that floor section #1 was the center section and that sections #2 and #3 would be immediately left and right, respectively. Sections #4 and #5 would be the outer edges. On her word, I bought 4 seats in Section #1, row 9, the best available after wasting at least 15 minutes clarifying the arrangement.

    Imagine my surprise when my group arrived at the concert to find that the sections were not numbered as advertised. Instead, they were set up left to right, with section #1 at the far left. Approaching the area, my initial disappointment turned to confusion and anger when I realized that not only were we not in the center, but the way the seats were arranged had us not in the 9th row, but some 30 rows back. After looking around the area, we saw a complete disarray of rows. In some cases, the “first row” of a section was buried back behind row 24 of another section. People had paid for and expected to be in the front row, right by the stage, and instead were near the back of the floor area.

    I went to the “guest services” area and after explaining the situation, an on-site Ticketmaster representative was able to “upgrade” us. We were moved to the center section, in row 16 (which was surprisingly exactly 16 rows back from the stage). Better than the original placement, but still nearly twice as far back as planned.

    I called Ticketmaster the day after the show, and my frustration only grew again. After 4 separate phone calls, and a total of over an hour of being on hold, and being disconnected once, I was finally put through to a supervisor. I stated my case to her, and all she could say was “there’s nothing I can do about it at this point”. I suggested that the communication between Ticketmaster and the venue needs to be improved so that this doesn’t happen again and she responded “what the promoter and venue do is out of our hands”. I was polite with her and wasn’t expecting the world, but there was no apology or any effort made to make me feel at ease about “the next time” being any different.

    Again, I am in no way blaming The Hip. This hasn’t tainted my support for you guys at all, but it is unfortunate that the total experience wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

    Sorry for rambling, but I thought you should know that some of the “support staff” out there is not exactly living up to same level of excellence as the band itself is known for.

    Thanks for listening.

    • Thanks for the first class reply Jeff! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and adding your two cents.

  6. Hey folks, MAv. here, TTH Webmaster. I am really sorry to hear of your poor experience the night of the Winnipeg show and the resulting ticket switch. All I can say is I would be right pissed off too!!

    As I am merely the web guy, what I have done is let the Hip management team affectionately called Hip HQ – know of what happened – and pass on your emails etc. Again, sorry for your troubles – and nice post. I’ll be following up with the office to see if there is anything that we can do, in a small way at least, to make it up to you.

    Stay tuned.

    Thanks for your continued support of the Hip.

    kind regards,

    MAv. :: TTH Webmaster