Soon, things changed again, and Brian from the spacious Telecharge offices overlooking Times Square could tell me where the seats were! But pretty soon after that, Brian was replaced by a computer voice that even though it was automatic and set to sound polite, sure seemed edgy when you started searching for tickets and rejecting her first, second or third offer. Then, faster than you can say "The Producers was overrrated", online ticket buying began, and all of your troubles were gone! You could spend an hour if you wanted to searching and re-searching every possible date and seat location for The Phantom of the Opera. The most annoying thing was that damed fuzzy writing you'd have to pause and type in. But at least it was for a good cause - fancy computers couldn't buy every last seat at once for the 50,000th performance. Of course, I'm talking about the genesis of Broadway ticket buying through the Telecharge system. I love it, it loves me. I seek out shows that use this system. To me, the fees for using this service are almost worth it. It is very easy to use, convenient AND forgiving.
But then there are the shows I want to see that play the Palace or, in the most recent case, the Lunt-Fontanne, where The Addams Family is about to move in. These, and several other theatres are on the Ticketmaster system of tickets (Disney has its own... God, they are smart!). Have you used Ticketmaster lately? I'd rather use mail order. Over the past several days, I have literally spent my lunch hour online trying to buy two freaking tickets to a show that might not even run as long as the date I finally got them for.
Here, in no particular order, are my gripes about Ticketmaster:
1. Weeks ago they promised an upgrade to what sounds like the Telecharge system for their Broadway ticketing. It still has not happened.
2. The theatre seating charts are ridiculous. They offer almost no seat numbers, there is no real way to judge where within the given aisle your seats are, and they don't tell you where the mezzanine overhangs the orchestra. I shouldn't have to go to another site to get a decent seating chart before logging on to Ticketmaster.
3. There are so many ways to choose a date, you can't remember how to get back to where you started when you inevitably have to choose another date.
4. If you don't like the seats they offer, you can search again. This means starting completely over, at that performance only, only to be offered the same seats again! And again! Sure, you can change the perameters to "left side orchestra" or whatever, but it usually doesn't change anything or it offers you the same seats only on the opposite side of the theatre! The bottom line here is, if you want to go to a specific performance, you have to wait until someone else buys the tickets they keep offering over and over. From experience, I can tell you that Orchestra seats row A, 5 and 7 were available for The Addams Family for every performance on Memorial Day weekend, from March 1 through 4. On March 5, "Best Available" meant Row B seats 6 & 8 for each performance.
I tried changing sides. I tried waiting til the next day. Finally, I gave up and tried calling Ticketmaster. Have you ever done this? It is an adventure, let me tell you.
You start out with a man's voice assuring you that by calling Ticketmaster, you were about to receive "World-class Customer Service." What world? The planet Evil maybe.
I'm going to cut to the chase here, because I'm getting dizzy from the blood pressure spike I'm experiencing at the recall. When you call Ticketmaster, you get a computer voiced assistant who walks you through every step of the process you go through when doing it by yourself online. I answered "yes", "no", "full price", "orchestra", "yes", "yes", "no"... I must have sounded like the Rain Man. Oh, I got past the first "Best Available Seats" that were the same as online. I was offered the next seats over in the same row, I was offered the rear of the theatre. At no point was there an option to stop the madness and let me talk to real person, UNTIL I REJECTED 4 SETS OF SEATS. Only then did the pleasant computer voice offer "representative."
The the fun really began. After a 6 minute hold time, I got "Ticketmaster, this is
Cut to last night at about 11PM. I have re-logged on to Ticketmaster. I have narrowed down my choices as much as possible for each of the three performances I'd like to attend. And I got my two tickets, plus all those fees, for seats that aren't too close or too far back... but they are mighty close to the wall. (Thank you to the hundreds of you who bought all the tickets before me in the last twelve hours, so I could choose these!) I go to check out, and I'll be damned, if after all this trouble, I'm not going to get an actual cardboard ticket. So I uncheck the box that allows me to use my own paper and ink to print their tickets for an additional $2.50. And check the "send them via mail" box. (For Ticketmaster, "Will Call" is only an option if you are from a foreign country.) The one place where you could understand a fee of at leat 44 cents for a stamp, and it is FREE! (Ok, deduct it from that $3.20 processing fee...)
We've come a long way, haven't we? Here I am in 2010 still waiting for my tickets to come in the mail.
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