Hey, those aren’t the seats I bought on Ticketmaster – are they?

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Christopher Elliott

Michael Seldin’s concert tickets were not what he expected. Is Ticketmaster to blame?

Question

I recently bought tickets for a Brad Paisley concert at the Amway Center in Orlando through Ticketmaster.

When I arrived at the concert and saw just how far from the stage my seats actually were, I attempted to exchange them at the customer service desk. An Amway Center customer service supervisor was very helpful and said she could make a trade if better seats were available.

She accompanied me to the box office but, since it was pretty much a sold-out show, better seats were not available, so I kept the tickets I had and my wife and I stewed in our seats for the entire performance.

Looking back, I’m still very unhappy with the way the ticket sale was handled by Ticketmaster. I feel I could have obtained better seats if the correct seating chart had been displayed online. As it was, I jumped at the first seats displayed since they appeared to be close to the center stage.

I sent a polite email to Ticketmaster, explaining my problem, but they sent a form response in which they apologized “for any inconvenience” but said that there was nothing they could do. Can you help? — Michael Seldin, Orlando

Answer

You shouldn’t have been surprised when you were shown to your seats at the Amway Center. You should have known exactly how far you’d be from the stage; no surprises.

Ticketmaster’s terms and conditions don’t really address your problem. But the Amway Center does display a fairly detailed seating chart that you could have cross-referenced with the map on Ticketmaster before you purchased your tickets.

Why didn’t you do that? Well, in reviewing your account, it looks as if you were led to believe that these were the last two good seats for the concert. I hate it when they do that.

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You’re talking to someone who has walked out of performances because the seats weren’t as advertised. I didn’t even bother asking for my money back — I just walked out. (That was before a radioactive spider bit me, turning me into the consumer advocate I am today.)

Here’s what I can tell you: Ticketmaster bore some responsibility for the seating chart or any additional information it offered that led to your unfortunate purchasing decision. It shouldn’t have given you the electronic brush-off.

Before I got involved, I recommended that you push back a little. Reply to the form letter, politely indicating that you didn’t get the response you expected. It’s a step consumers forget too often; their next step is frequently (and incorrectly) an angry letter to the CEO.

By the way, I list all of Ticketmaster’s executives on my customer service directory — just in case. I also have tips on how to get a refund from Ticketmaster.

Your reply to Ticketmaster did the trick.

“I hate to hear that you were given misinformation in regards to the seating chart layout,” a representative replied. “It is our goal to always provide world class customer service from the onset of the purchase to when the event takes place.”

Ticketmaster agreed that you were “misled” by some of the information it provided and offered you a $25 Ticketmaster gift card towards a future purchase. You were happy with that solution.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. He also publishes Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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