Ryan had a dream. Not an unreasonable dream for any fan: he wanted to see Pee-Wee Herman perform live. Many fans, including Ryan, were thrilled when a limited engagement of shows was announced in Los Angeles, and Ryan bought tickets and made plans to travel cross-country for the performance. Then the concert promoter and Ticketmaster stole his bike. Metaphorically. He says he attempted to call Ticketmaster over 225 times (the line was busy) and the Pee-Wee debacle still isn’t solved.
A couple of months ago, Pee Wee Herman announced that he’d finally be returning to the stage after 25+ years for a limited engagement series of performances at the Music Box Theater in LA. As a lifelong fan, I jumped at the chance to see this once-in-a-lifetime show. I called as soon as the tickets went on sale, purchased a pair (about $100) and scored a reasonably priced plane ticket (roundtrip Baltimore to LA for $250).
The stars had aligned and I was going to see Pee Wee Herman on November 14th. I couldn’t believe it!
…then it all went to shit.
Two days ago, I received the following email notification from Ticketmaster:
Due to popular demand, the Pee-wee Herman Show is moving to a larger venue and has new dates. It will now take place in downtown Los Angeles at Club Nokia, LA Live. The new dates are rescheduled for January 12, 2010 through February 7, 2010.
As a previous buyer, you have an exclusive opportunity to exchange your tickets for any one of the new shows. Simply call Ticketmaster at 1-800-653-8000 and provide us with your original confirmation number. Seats will be exchanged on a first come, first serve basis. This exclusive opportunity will begin on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10:00am and will end on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 10:00 pm. Tickets will be available to the general public on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10:00 am.
But….but….but….I had already purchased my plane tickets. And what about all of those people who booked hotel rooms?! What were they going to do? This couldn’t be happening. The Pee Wee I remember wouldn’t have done this to me.
But I sucked it up. After-all, this was my one chance to see the man who had once inspired me to drunkenly do the “Tequila” dance on top of a bar. I couldn’t miss this. No matter what.
I should have known better than to listen to myself. I’m an idiot. I should never listen to myself. And today at exactly 9:55AM EST, I began what would turn out to be a VERY long day with Ticketmaster.
9:55AM – First call to Ticketmaster….busy.
9:56AM to 10:05AM – Multiple calls to Ticketmaster…still busy.
10:06AM – Phew. I finally reach a Ticketmaster representative.
10:07AM – Ticketmaster representative informs me that the email that read “10:00AM” should have read “10:00AM PST”. I hang my head in shame.
12:55PM (EST) – I begin calling Ticketmaster all over again. Busy.
12:56PM to 1:45PM – I call Ticketmaster more than 150 times on three different phones. Busy x150.
1:46PM – I reach a Ticketmaster representative. She seems confused about the ticket exchange. She tells me that her system won’t let her access the event. I need to call back in one minute. I inform her that I had already been calling for more than an hour. She doesn’t care. I begin to think that she secretly hates Pee Wee.
1:47PM to 2:15PM – I start over. Busy x75.
2:16PM – FINALLY. I get through to someone who can help me! She seems aware of the whole Pee Wee situation. By the tone of her voice, it sounds like a nightmare. She stays on the line with me as we pick the perfect tickets.
2:20PM – YES!!! I have tickets! Not only do I have tickets, but I have THIRD ROW tickets. It was a long process, but totally worth it. Third row. Wow!
And then God punched me in the face.
5:30PM – I begin reading people’s complaints on Twitter about their ticket situations. Some people can’t get through to Ticketmaster. Others couldn’t get tickets that were comparable to the ones they had originally purchased. Others were being charged extra for their new tickets.
5:31PM – Wait. Being charged extra. I better check my bank account.
5:33PM – Fuck.
5:34PM – Fuck fuck.
5:35PM – It sinks in that I had just been charged $160 for this “exchange”. That means I’m down $100 for the original tickets, $160 for this new and improved “exchange” pair of tickets, $250 for the airline tickets (PLUS whatever else they’ll charge me for switching my flight)….oh, and….$30 for an overdraft fee.
Wait. Overdraft fee?! Yes. The helpful representative FORGOT to tell me that this was not the typical “exchange” most people in the free world are used to.
This exchange would require me to buy NEW, more expensive tickets without my knowledge.. And would require me to wait 2-3 weeks for a refund on my old tickets. And would force me to over-withdraw on my bank account.
5:36 PM – 8:45PM – I spend these next three hours on hold, occasionally talking to Ticketmaster representatives. Once in a while, I get through to a representative who inevitably transfers me to the next representative. I ask for supervisors. I get put back on hold. I ask for new departments. Back on hold.
8:46PM – I start losing it.
8:47PM – I begin realizing that I’ve just spent (ref: wasted) my entire day trying to fix problems related to Pee Wee Herman tickets. I’m too old for this.
8:49PM – I get through to a supervisor. In the wrong department. Of course.
8:50PM – I inform the supervisor of my situation and that: “I need this fixed now. No more waiting on hold. No more transfers. Just a resolution. I want my $30 overdraft fee back.”
8:51PM – Back on hold. Supervisor needs to talk to Customer Service supervisor. Of course I wasn’t talking to a Customer Service supervisor. That would make sense.
8:56 PM – Supervisor returns. He informs me that there’s nothing they can do, but if I want, I can be put back on hold to talk to the Customer Service department.
8:57 PM – I tell him to have the Customer Service department call ME. Back on hold.
9:00 PM- Supervisor tells me that they don’t make outside calls.
Ryan isn’t the only person angry over the postponement, or even the only Consumerist reader. We wish we had secret powers over the mysterious fortress known as Ticketmaster.