Why I hate Live Nation (and about any other ticketing experience)

This is a two-part horror story, really ...

Part I:
Some faulty circumstances left three friends and I without tickets for Coldplay's visit to Indianapolis a few weeks ago. We'd relied on a friend who claimed to have tickets, she didn't and we ended up concert day screwed. (Yea, overlook the gullible aspect here for me...) I tried to get tickets through Live Nation's Web site the afternoon day of show, and there were some available. By the time I got the prices and details off to my friends, however, LiveNation's site had shut off sales to the show. Somewhat understandable, but in a digital age? Irritating as hell.

I proceeded to call Live Nation ticketing and spoke to a customer service rep who told me that *they* (the phone side of things) were sold out of tickets, but that I should try my local Blockbuster store.

Blockbuster? Who goes there anymore? OK - so some synergy in effect to keep one business alive and the other business to topple the giant mean ticket conglomerate, I'll deal.

We head off to Blockbuster to get the tickets, and witness a mother in front of us who is trying to get tickets for the same show. As she prepares to check out, we overhear the price and note that the cost is even more than what was being quoted online. "Day of show fees," the clerk tells her and eventually us. We conceded the race, knowing we shouldn't have waited until the day of the show to figure out the bluffer friend, and bought the tickets. Great show, just with a lot less money to buy the $9 beers at the venue. (Did I mention the $6 parking... per person?)

The kicker here: The guy at Blockbuster taps into LN's ticketing system and proceeds to print the tickets .... on a laser printer. Uh, I can do that for home.. I didn't need to pay him $2.50 a ticket to do that. If you're going to charge me for ticket printing, at least give me a real ticket.

Part II:
Learning from my Coldplay lessons, I purchased a four-pack of lawn tickets for an upcoming Fray concert at another venue in Indy. This was two weeks ago, and more than three full weeks before the show itself. Why did I buy them then? Live Nation was nice enough to drop service fees as part of its "no service fee Wednesday." This saved about 40 bucks on the four pack, on top of the tickets being about 10-12 bucks cheaper for being part of the pack. I was pleased.

Fast forward a few weeks. Schedules are more open. Checking account balances are more understood. Suddenly more people want to go. Let's get another four pack!

Again today (6/24) Live Nation is doing a "no service fee Wednesday" promotion, teased through their twitter earlier this week. This week all lawn four packs are service fee-free. Foolishly, I decide to hold off buying the four pack until today. I continued checking the ticket availability through the day Monday and Tuesday without seeing a flaw.

Sure enough, LN strikes again. I log on today to buy the tickets and ... the venue is suddenly no longer offering four packs for this show. It's not even a week away yet, as the show is a week from tomorrow. Remarkably convenient given the promotion ... Shady.

New to the ticketing page this week: If I have a Citi card it appears I may be able to purchase lawn tickets for $5 each the day before the show starting at 10 a.m.

Hm. Wonder how fast I can get approved?

I had to spread the bad news to the hopeful friends a few minutes ago. At least two of them have dropped out, citing $44.60 (up from approx. $25 at the four-pack no service fee price) as too much on their budget. I can't blame them, especially given the venue we're heading to: a river-side full-GA/lawn environment for big concerts, but certainly not those of Coldplay or John Mayer stature.

The tickets aren't sold out. I'd be hard-pressed to see a show like this sell out in Indy.. It's the Fray and the more cult-followed Jack's Mannequin. Not exactly U2, with much respect to two very loved artists.

Furthermore, I understand the importance of my planning ahead for concerts and events like this... But *this* summer of all summers, one post-financial-clusterF, I would expect to see love... especially while LN attempts to achieve dominance over that other ticket company. So far, I've been less than pleased with the overall Live Nation experience. The punishment for attending a show last minute is too much to handle in the wallet. In this case, it seems eight days before is also last minute ... at least if there's another promotion running.

Have any ticket horror stories? Share them below... I feel your pain.

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