Who doesn’t like a free concert?
Apparently, a whole heck of a lot of people.
In 2003, two men purchased tickets to a Wilco show and — like many people who buy tickets from Ticketmaster — were surprised and somewhat infuriated by the order and processing fees accompanying them, in particular with the fact that Ticketmaster did not disclose that it profited from the fees. Rather than head to the bar and complain to their friends, though, the two sued the company.
Their case snowballed into a fairly large class-action lawsuit, which Ticketmaster recently settled. Now, everyone is cashing in. Any customer who purchased tickets between Oct. 21, 1999, and Feb. 27, 2013, may be eligible for free ticket vouchers or a small discount on tickets and/or shipping.
The Washington Post’s Hayley Tsukayama has explained how to check whether you’re eligible.
The list of shows where you are allowed to use the free ticket vouchers — all of them at venues operated by Live Nation, of which Ticketmaster is a subsidiary — has also been released and can be found here. (Warning: It’s best to visit if you have a lot of time on your hands, as the list is, uhhh, difficult to navigate, and that’s putting it politely. It cannot be searched or sorted through, save by date and location. The location column can only be sorted by city, not state. Have fun!)
If the technological nightmare that is this list angered fans, its actual content sent many over the edge. With bands like Slightly Stoopid, the Barenaked Ladies and Darius Rucker (formerly of Hootie & the Blowfish) taking up most of the list, that’s fairly understandable.
As local media outlets rushed to post lists of eligible shows in their areas, music fans took to Twitter to express their disapproval. They seemed less than pleased with the offerings, to put it mildly.
Can we all sue Ticketmaster again over their list of shows you can use with the vouchers
— Chris DeVille (@chrisdeville) June 21, 2016
The problem with these Ticketmaster vouchers is that I almost talked myself into getting tix to see the Goo Goo Dolls in Sarasota Springs.
— Louis Peitzman (@LouisPeitzman) June 22, 2016
Ticketmaster Exec: OK, but how can we settle this suit in a way that stays true to our ideals as a company that hates its customers?
— Judy Berman (@judyberman) June 21, 2016
As one user tweeted, “The good news is we all have free Ticketmaster vouchers. The bad news is they’re only valid for concerts you wouldn’t even go to for free.” Another tweeted, “Ticketmaster is sorry for the malfeasance and would like to apologize by way of six (6) tickets to Rascal Flatts at a venue 400 miles away.” A third tweeted, “Ticketmaster tried to give some wack concerts as part of their settlement deal but didn’t know I’m Seal’s biggest fan so who’s laughing now?”
Hey boy are you my ticketmaster voucher because you aren't worth the effort.
— Sophia Benoit (@1followernodad) June 22, 2016
These Ticketmaster vouchers are like finding money in your couch cushions, then realizing it's foreign currency from a failed state.
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) June 22, 2016
Damn, my Ticketmaster voucher is for Woodstock 99.
— Steven Hyden (@Steven_Hyden) June 21, 2016
Even media outlets got in on the fun. “The list of free Ticketmaster concerts is finally here, and it would be great if this were 1998,” wrote Slate’s Marissa Martinelli. “The options are, broadly speaking, terrible,” wrote the Verge’s Chris Plante, who called the offering a “garbage fire legal settlement.” The New York Daily News called the options “pathetic,” and the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sofiya Ballin wrote, “Many of the settlement ticket voucher events feature artists that top your aunt’s workout playlist.”
It’s true that Ticketmaster has a bad reputation — The Post once ran a story headlined “How Ticketmaster ruined the concertgoing experience, and how it might be saved” — but it’s not difficult to see why. Admittedly, there are some big names on the list, such as Bob Dylan, Modest Mouse and — sigh — Pitbull. But they’re sure not easy to reach for most people in the United States After all, there are not even any tickets listed in the country’s most populated city, New York. Residents of the Big Apple have to drive at least 180 miles to Saratoga Springs to catch a free show.
In fact, the New York Daily News reported that the vouchers would only be available in 19 states. You know, of 50.
It gets worse.
As The New York Times noted, “The odds are a lot of people will never get the chance to redeem their free-ticket vouchers.”
For one, the newspaper found that “attempts to use the codes for discounts or free tickets on two listed events — Kenny Chesney in Virginia Beach, and the San Francisco Symphony — returned error messages on Tuesday.”
Secondly, things may not be quite as they appear.
It boils down to this: Ticketmaster did not only offer those vouchers. They also released $2.25 and $5 discount codes to be used toward any tickets or any UPS delivery, respectively. The company has to shell out $42 million over four years at no less than $10.5 million a year, but according to Steven Blonder, a leading attorney in the lawsuit, it sent out $386 million in discount codes to about 57 million people.
In other words, the company seems to be banking on the idea that you won’t redeem your code. Because some people have to travel hundreds of miles just to do so, that seems like a pretty safe bet.
It’s important to note that Live Nation stated that the list will be “periodically updated.” It’s unclear exactly how periodically that means, but to sign up for updates, enter your email address at this website.
Until then, just hope you’re a fan of the String Cheese Incident.