Woman Says Ticketmaster Threatened To Blacklist Her For Contacting American Express

With the clock ticking down until we open the floor up to Worst Company In America nominations, perennial Final Four contender Ticketmaster is here to remind everyone why they belong in the tournament.

An L.A. Lakers fan says the problems all began when she went to buy tickets for a game between her favorite basketball team and the Dallas Mavericks.

She tells the L.A. Times’ David Lazarus that she first checked the NBA-sanctioned, Ticketmaster-operated TicketExchange site that lets season ticket owners unload their seats on the secondary market. She says that no one was selling when she first looked, so it was over to the regular Ticketmaster site to see what was available.

There she ponied up a fee-laden total of $440 for two tickets. She was able to use some of her American Express rewards points to chip $68 off the price tag, which helped a bit.

Out of curiosity, she later went back to look at TicketExchange and found seats in the same row for $86 less (each!) had been posted in the time since she’d first checked.

So she contacted Ticketmaster, where a rep said they could do her “a favor” and refund her the face value — but none of the fees — for her initial purchase. But as for those AmEx rewards points she’d used, the rep said there was naught that could be done.

When the Lakers fan said she would contact AmEx about this, she claims that the Ticketmaster rep told her, “I don’t want to upset you, but I will warn you that if you complain to American Express, you could be blacklisted from using Ticketmaster.”

After that threat, she says she asked to speak to a supervisor.

“The supervisor then said they wouldn’t offer the refund,” the woman tells Lazarus. “He said that they were doing me a favor. If I was going to call American Express, they wouldn’t help me.”

In spite of the blacklist threat, she went ahead and called AmEx, who not only refunded her the points but an extra $25.

When Lazarus heard the woman’s story, he contacted Ticketmaster, where a company rep said she would listen to a tape of the call, but — shock horror — “Most calls are recorded… This one wasn’t.”

The rep said, “We don’t have a blacklist… That term isn’t part of our vernacular,” and that the CSR probably told the customer that a disputed charge can result in further ticket purchases being suspended until the dispute is resolved.

But the customer sticks by her version of the story. “‘Blacklist’ is absolutely the word they used… It’s exactly what they said.”

Hey, at least the Lakers won the game.

Lakers fan claims foul by Ticketmaster


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    $440 for two tickets.

    This is the part where I blame the OP.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      There isn’t a basketball game in the world worth that. Watching basketball in person is one of the most boring non-activities you could do. Watching pro-golf is more exciting.

      Watching “athletes” jog back and forth for 22 minutes and actually playing for 2 minutes a half is mind numbing.

    • tbax929 says:

      If she can afford it and enjoys basketball, what exactly has she done wrong?

      Would I pay that much? No. Would I pay that much to see something I enjoyed with my own disposable income? Sure.

      • Cat says:

        Personal preference, I guess. I would probably get more joy from handing out $20 bills every 5 minutes to random people on the street, and it would probably last longer than a basketball game.

        At any rate, I’m filing this post under #firstworldproblems.

        • asten77 says:

          it’d last longer than the first 55 minutes, but the last 5 would drag out for another $300 worth of $20s. #cantstandbasketball

  2. Darrone says:

    $68 probably doesn’t even come close to ticketmasters fee. I really do despise them.

  3. pop top says:

    $440 for two tickets? I hope those seats were amazing.

  4. Minze says:

    “We don’t have a blacklist… That term isn’t part of our vernacular” Seems to me that this sentence is open to interpretation. Most likely;y they just call it something else internally. Maybe a “restricted sales list”.

    • sumocat says:

      “We don’t have a blacklist… That term isn’t part of our vernacular,”
      [23 seconds later]
      “Oh wait, you mean a ‘s—list’. Yeah, we have one of those.”

  5. MikeF74 says:

    On a side note, it looks like the tickets on the TicketExchange opened up the moment she bought here two tickets on TicketMaster-proper. She probably broke up a block of 4 seats, and they threw the two remaining on the secondary site. Gotta love TicketMaster.

  6. El_Fez says:

    I had something similar happen once with Matty Collector (the mattel He-Man online seller). I wound up buying an action figure by accident – no big whoop, since i just droppd it into the mail again as as soon as it showed up. The problem was that the package never showed up at Matty, so they never processed my return.

    After a couple of weeks of “Hey, did you get it yet?” emails with no responce at all, I reversed the charges. Next time I went to buy something – they wouldnt process my credit card. But I was able to place an order with a new name and new card – apparently I was blackballed!

  7. philpm says:

    And being blacklisted by Ticketbastard would be a bad thing?

    I’m very happy that our local AEG-operated large arena dumped TM and started their own ticketing system.

  8. FatLynn says:

    I think it was pretty nice of TM to offer her a refund at all, on a non-refundable purchase.

    • Rodent404 says:

      Yeah, I agree. I really don’t see why they were obligated to refund her purchase just because she found cheaper tickets later.

      • Hi_Hello says:

        some credit card company, I don’t know about ticketmaster, has this thinggie that within a certain day after you purchase an item and the item price goes down, they will refund the difference.

        They probably assume ticketmaster will offer the same thing.

    • Coffee says:

      It makes sense, though…if they kept the fees, they would now be able to turn around and sell the same seats and collect the fees again. Not a bad deal for them.

  9. conquestofbread says:

    Tickets are a commodity that necessarily fluctuate in price based on what it’s worth to the person paying.

    She apparently wanted to see the game badly enough to pay $440. Since event tickets are 99.9% non-refundable, and EVERYBODY knows that, I think she’s lucky they refunded her a dime.

    It sounds more like she badgered them for a refund, they made an exception in doing so, and she still wasn’t happy, so she threatened to dispute the charge with Amex.

    I think the agent she spoke to was probably frustrated with dealing with a difficult customer and made a poor wording choice when she said “blacklisted”.

    When you dispute a charge for a non-material commodity such as a ticket, they risk losing the money and the ability to resell the seat — maybe she will get her cash back AND if she has possession of the tickets, get to see the event for free to boot. I am not a pro-business shill, but I can see why they would refuse to sell more tickets to a customer with an open credit card dispute for this very reason.

    I am one who usually takes the side of the consumer, but I think the OP is very wrong here.

    • ldillon says:

      Why should tickets be non-refundable? If anything, they should be easier to return because it’s easier to resell a seat than a durable good, given sufficient lead-time. Aren’t most of these big event sold out, meaning that they could easily resell the tickets at the door?

      Sounds like excessive greed.

  10. u1itn0w2day says:

    So Ticketmaster joins the ranks of the stores that track serial returners.

  11. Cat says:

    “We don’t have a “blacklist”… That term isn’t part of our vernacular. That’s some racist shit right there!”

  12. TheWillow says:

    Tickets are non-refundable… they did her a favor. I hate TM as much as the next person, but I don’t get the issue here (I mean, other than the blacklist comment which is dumb)

  13. Jawaka says:

    I’m curious how Ticketmaster was supposed to return her AmEx Rewards points.

  14. golddog says:

    “We don’t have a blacklist”

    I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen a ‘we’ll do *something* to you if you initiate a chargeback’ statement in their ToS. This would have been a while ago for me so I can’t specifically recall, but there was some kinda penalty.

  15. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Ticketmaster doesn’t guarantee low prices. They don’t offer refunds. I don’t get where the OP was coming from. If she wanted a good deal she could wait and see if one comes up. If she wants to make sure she gets tickets, she can pay the asking price. If she waits and they sell out, that is her fault.

    I blame the OP and am surprised Ticketmaster offered her anything, or that AmEx was able to anything either.

    • TasteyCat says:

      Amex doesn’t care. They will chargeback anything without making any effort to validate. Their customers, meanwhile, fail to realize they’re still on the hook for the charges.

  16. DariusC says:

    That’s why all of my incoming and outgoing calls are recorded and archived. Thankfully I don’t have to tell any company I am recording the calls either as the state law says I don’t. When they try to tell me they never said something, I not only record that, but their previous different answer. Would make the judge laugh so hard to hear them fumble over their answers.

  17. 180CS says:

    Crap like this and ticket masters monopoly on ticketed events is why I won’t go to a concert if they are the only means to purchase in advance.

  18. Alan_Schezar says:

    Could she just have made a legal recording of the call herself when she got the notice “This call may be recorded”?

  19. Sensical says:

    Companies do have credit card blacklists. Companies have to keep chargebacks under a certain percentage amount of total transactions or a metric of the sort, otherwise a CC issuer can drop them. Amex is a particular pain in the butt for some companies since they’re the least tolerant CC issuer. In the logic of some businesses, blacklisting CC’s or accounts that chargeback protects them from violating their terms with the CC issuers.

  20. shufflemoomin says:

    I’m pretty sure Ticketmaster sales are non-refundable. She should have known the T&Cs before making a purchase. Just because she wouldn’t wait and then a better deal came up when it was too late, why should they break their own T&Cs because she can save money? I’m sorry, I hate ticketmaster as much as the next person, but this is entirely her fault. Also, it’s not unusual for a business to stop dealing with you in the future if you decide to initiate a charge back for no better reason that “a better deal came up”. She bought something non-refundable and then complained when she couldn’t get a refund. Why is this even a story?

  21. PortlandBeavers says:

    Event tickets are non-refundable pretty much everywhere, on Ticketmaster and on its rivals. You don’t have to dig through their terms, either. It is all over ticketing websites. This is exactly why, so the buyer can’t cancel orders because something better comes along or because they didn’t feel like going. It isn’t like selling merchandise. You can’t take it back and let it sit on the shelf for too long.

    That being said, the threat of blacklisting is a little silly. It’s darn near impossible to blacklist someone from Internet sales. If you use a different email, phone number and credit card, you are pretty much a different person to them.

  22. Peter V says:

    Another advantage to SmithsTixs! However Ticketmaster has all the concerts in SLC.

  23. dush says:

    Ticketmaster is the one who should be blacklisted, by all consumers everywhere.
    Just don’t buy tickets from them. It will have an impact.

    • rushevents says:

      If you want to see the event – you do not have a choice. Even if you buy it at the box office they are using the TM system and you pay a fee for that.

      Monopolies suck for everyone but the monopoly.

      • dush says:

        Yeah you still have a choice.
        If all shows that were sold exclusively through TM started going unsold I think they’d get the message.

  24. BurtReynolds says:

    I actually don’t fault TM for what they tried to do here. They offered to take the tickets back (I believe they have no obligation to) and you usually don’t get any fees back (think returning something you buy online…they don’t refund shipping). They aren’t Amex, so how could they refund Amex points? The Lakers fan is being unreasonable at that point.

    Now the whole threat of a “blacklist” is where they went overboard and into typical TM territory.

    I’m also reminded once again as to why I rarely go to concerts or sporting events. $440 tickets that probably includes $60 in “convenience” fees you can’t avoid. And the tickets probably aren’t even very good.

  25. rushevents says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am so capitalist I sleep on my right but…

    I freaking HATE Ticketmaster with the nuclear heat of a thousand suns.

    Capitalism = great
    monopolies = not great.

  26. edrebber says:

    “a disputed charge can result in further ticket purchases being suspended until the dispute is resolved”

    Wouldn’t they have to put the person’s name on a list to enforce the suspension?

    blacklist – a list of persons under suspicion, disfavor, censure, etc.

    The customer service representative from Ticketmaster is a liar.