The Livingsocial offer that wasn’t social at all

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By Christopher Elliott

After he buys four tickets for the Indy 500 through a coupon site, he learns he may not be sitting with his friends. Can he undo the purchase?

Question

I’m looking for your help in resolving an issue with a deal I found on Livingsocial. Recently, it published an offer for the Indy 500, which had options for $39 general seating, or $150 a person VIP seating. I wanted to attend with a few friends, so we all signed up for the VIP seats.

Livingsocial has an offer where if you purchase a deal, and then get three friends to do so as well, then you get yours free. Now, we all wanted to sit together, but figured 4 for the price of 3 wasn’t bad; however, there was no information on the deal page about seating policies. So I emailed customer support (their phone lines were down after their recent password issues) to ask whether this was possible.

After several emails back and forth, a representative called me and said she didn’t see a problem in having us sit together, even though we bought the tickets separately, and would confirm. So we went ahead and bought the tickets. Which is when things started to go south.

Shortly after buying the deal, I received an email letting me know that they would not be able to guarantee that we would be able to sit together, as we bought tickets separately. That is something I can understand.

I asked whether they could try to seat us together, and that I would appreciate an assurance that they try to seat us together. I received a brusque email reply telling me that I can’t have my cake and eat it too, and that I could opt to sit together or save on the single deal, and I chose to save on single deal.

The quest for a satisfactory outcome

“I found that the communication initially outlined did not meet my expectations, which frustrated me. However, I offered a solution where they would refund my deal so that all four of us could pay the full price of the pass and ensure we sit together, as this would have matched the cost of tickets for a group purchase. In response, I received a one-line email stating that they would not take any action, citing the passage of more than 24 hours since the deal was issued.

Since then, I have attempted to call and send emails, but I have not received any replies. They consistently indicate that they will ‘get back to me’ on this matter.

I am open to paying the extra $150 to guarantee our group seating. We have not received seat assignments yet, and there remains a chance that we may still be seated together.

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Answer

The Indy 500 race is a social event, which is something a site that calls itself Living Social ought to understand. If a representative gave you assurances that you could sit together, then the company should have made every effort to do so rather than blowing you off with one-liner emails.

Livingsocial’s terms and conditions are hopelessly confusing. I can’t tell which rules applied to your event tickets, since there are several offer categories, each with similar-sounding names. But in reviewing all of the terms, it seems clear to me that the promise to sit together isn’t part of the terms. So you would have to take the Livingsocial representative at her word.

Promises made by a representative on the phone are all but meaningless. And to be honest, as I review your own recollection of the conversation, it didn’t really sound like much of a promise, but more of a pledge to try to seat you together. That’s not gonna cut it.

Resolving the Livingsocial ticket issue

Instead of the endless back and forth by email, I might have sent your whole thread to someone higher up at Livingsocial. You can find the right names on its website. Email addresses at Livingsocial are [email protected]. (Related: Do I deserve a refund for this Livingsocial deal?)

I thought your request to refund the tickets and buy new ones at the full price wasn’t unreasonable. If Livingsocial had responded to you on time, then maybe the 24-hour window for refunds wouldn’t have closed.

I contacted Livingsocial on your behalf. The solution was really simple, and I’m surprised they didn’t tell you this by phone. Both the general admission and VIP lounge tickets for the Indy 500 are open seating, so they are first come, first served. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

A representative called you and informed you about the seating policy. You also received $10 in Livingsocial vouchers to make up for the trouble.

Did Livingsocial offer Akhil Kejriwal enough compensation?

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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 three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and 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 X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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