Ticketmaster can Shove It

It’s not as if I learned something I didn’t already know today. The world is driven by money; it shouldn’t shock me to have the fact thrust in my face, but it did.

Back in December, my wife got me tickets to see one of my favorite performers of all time. A guy whose stand-up routines I would memorize entire twenty-minute passages from. A guy whose mannerisms and quirky onscreen personality was the stuff of legend. It was a brilliant gift, the kind of gift I only wish I could think to put together for her, and man oh man, was I excited.

And then, a month or so later, the first allegations came out.

By last count, the number of women accusing Bill Cosby of rape has grown to something like 43. And it immediately put me in mind of the Sorites Paradox. Because when the first woman came out, I thought, surely not, this is just some gold-digger. When the second woman came out, I thought, she’s just trying to piggyback on the first. When the third came out, I thought, they smell blood in the water. Nothing, at first, convinced me that there was anything to the allegations.

Somewhere along the way, though, a few voices in the dark turns into a chorus of accusers, and it’s hard to ignore 43 women claiming the same thing in one form or another. But I’m not here to weigh in on Coz’s guilt or innocence.

My gripe is with Ticketmaster.

Thanks to all the poison in the air around Bill Cosby right now, my wife and I decided that we’re not keen to support the man right at the moment, and asked for a refund or even just a credit to attend another show, but Ticketmaster’s not having it. They’re hiding behind the fact that they don’t sell the tickets, they merely streamline the transaction, and since the venue hasn’t canceled the show, they can’t do anything about my tickets.

Look, language matters, so I’m going to make a big deal about it. Ticketmaster. A billion-dollar enterprise. Claims they can’t do anything about our tickets to this show.

Now, I understand they have to be very careful and very specific about refunding money, because it’s all slippery slopes when you start dealing with people’s moral objections to performers. But the reason this case is different — and why I don’t think any slippery slopes really apply — is because the allegations against Bill Cosby, at least for the vast majority of the public, were a bolt from the blue that nobody would have expected. Certainly my wife and I didn’t when we made plans to go to the show. I don’t think that, if Ticketmaster were to grant refunds for this show, they’d suddenly have a mad dash of customers canceling tickets for all kinds of venues with similar or even related circumstances. This feels like a one-off to me.

But never mind that. They said they “can’t” do anything for me.

Bear in mind that security has been tripled for the event, and a group of protesters has claimed that they will disrupt the show in any way possible, both outside and inside the venue. Don’t worry about the fact that a week prior, local news stations have run stories about protesters ramping up for the event. My only recourse, according to Ticketmaster, is to sell my tickets.

Which would be great and fine if it turned out I had a dentist appointment during the show, but nobody wants tickets to this show now (except maybe the protesters). They’ve washed their hands of the matter; it’s my problem now.

Which I suppose isn’t all that surprising. They got our money, what else should they care about?

It’s just very disappointing. Ticketmaster “can’t help me.”

Never mind the enormous PR service they could do for themselves (who, in the world, actually likes Ticketmaster?) by doing the right thing and making refunds available to the people that ask for them in this case? Sure, they’d lose money on that venture, but think what positive press it would buy them with customers.

Ticketmaster “can’t help me.”

Problem with that is, it’s the wrong currency. They’ve got a chokehold on the ticket business, so why should they relinquish a single cent on any grounds, moral or otherwise?

Truly and honestly, it’s not about the money. Not that my wife and I can afford to chuck $150 away on this event we’re now not going to attend, but we’ll swallow it if we have to. I’m mad — flabbergasted, really — that the company is willing to stonewall me (and thousands of other customers in Atlanta, it turns out) on this no refunds policy despite the morally charged nature of this particular situation.

So if the event does not get canceled, and if you happen to be a protester who wants to get inside the venue — for whatever reason, that’d be between you and whoever you pray to — let me know. Because since Ticketmaster has demonstrated that they don’t give one flying sharknado about me, I think it’s only fair to return the favor.

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

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