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June 25, 2009

Looks like Ticketmaster botched the Virgin Mobile FreeFest presale

ticketmasterTicketmaster's carelessness never ceases to amaze me. 

This morning, Virgin Mobile customers and previous Virgin Mobile Festival-goers were supposed to get first crack at presale tickets for the Aug. 30 Virgin Mobile FreeFest.

This morning, I've heard from more than a few festival-goers and Virgin Mobile customers who were never informed of how to get tickets.

The people who did hear from Virgin Mobile and Ticketmaster got a password they could use to earmark no more than two tickets each for the festival. Was each password different? Nope. Was each password only good for two tickets? Nope. It looks like they used one (maybe a handful) of passwords for everybody. 

When people realized this, they started sharing the password with their friends. And their friends' friends. I talked to a few people who hadn't been to previous festivals and weren't Virgin Mobile customers who got tickets ...

As I was writing this post, Midnight Sunner CantonKate left this comment, which took the words out of my mouth.

I doubt that Ticketmaster had any intention of doling out the tickets in a socially responsible manner. I think they took the capitalist route, which was spend the least amount of money possible to implement a system to distribute the tickets in what appeared to be a fair manner so they can just shrug their shoulders and say they tried their best. They're not going to be making a ton of money off of this, so I doubt they cared enough to implement a system that would really keep people from cheating it.

ticketmaster2.JPGThis morning, I got a call from Ernest Richardson, a Virgin Mobile customer who lives in Baltimore and went to the 2007 Virgin Mobile Festival. He got an email with a code he could use to secure his tickets. Though he tried to get tickets this morning, he couldn't.

"I thought it was a good deal at first, especially the fact that they were looking at Virgin Mobile customers, but it didn't turn out that way," he said. "It seemed like it was a free-for-all. I'm sure I'm not the only Virgin Mobile customer that was disappointed."

For years, Ticketmaster has gotten nothing but hate and negative publicity from concert-goers and the media -- and for good reason. So you would think that for once, when they have some good news -- waiving convenience fees and giving away thousands of tickets to the Virgin Mobile FreeFest, they would want to tell somebody about it.


When I asked for comment from Ticketmaster yesterday, they responded by e-mailing me a statement from festival producer Seth Hurwitz, who I'd already talked to. Nice one, guys.

(AP photos)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:57 PM | | Comments (37)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival


Yeah let's not be naive and say people shared it with their friends, that password was DEFINITELY blogged and twittered all over the place.

Why are there always such problems with distributing tickets to shows (e.g. Beastie Boys at RHL, FreeFest, etc, etc)? Are Ticketmaster and others just too cheap to create a system that is fair and able to handle the demand or are they really that clueless? I'm not sure which would be worse, but there really is no excuse.

Yep, I just googled the password this morning before the pre-sale and sure enough it was there.

Ticketmaster and LiveNation merging is an even scarier thought.

I don't think it was botched. They didn't say "Hey, here's a password, we'll have a ticket waiting for you whenever you get out of bed and log on!"

Presale started at 10 a.m. There were a finite number of presale tickets available. And there is a public sale still on Saturday.

Sure ... in a perfect world, everyone would have gotten an individual password that could only be redeemed once. But "free" and "perfect" don't usually happen at the same time.

Nobody should be surprised by this. This is how ticket*astard does things. You have to be on the ball when trying to get tickets to things like this, you snooze you lose.

I also dont think its fair to compare this to the Beasties Boys concert at Rams Head. They are a huge national act playing a small club, of course that was gonna be a hard ticket.

I have been seeing concerts for many many years and not much has changed. Tickets are tough to get and its like a game trying to get them. Those that get them are happy and celebrate, and those that dont get them are upset and complain.

don't be naive people.
This presale went exactly as any other presale.
There rarely is a "unique" password for each individual. There is usually a password sent out by a band's Web site or a radio station and everyone uses that password. And everyone usually tells their friends or posts it online.
It's easy to pile on ticketmaster, but they didn't do anything unusually bad. As usual, the people who pay attention get tickets and the people who didn't can try again saturday.

I went to the 2007 festival and never received an email with a password. In fact, I found out what the password was through people who didn't go to any of the festivals.

It would have been nice if Ticketmaster clarified what the presale procedure was going to be beforehand. There was no indication on the Virgin Festival or Ticketmaster websites that there would be emails sent out.


its a free concert, its not going to be perfect, you pay for what you get.

you want a free concert, here ya go, lackluster lineup and poor orginization.

I hate ticketmaster as much as the next guy, but when your not paying for anything, what do you expect?

As JD said, log on at 10am and get your ticket like any other hot ticket, not when you fee like it and we'll hold it until you have time to boot up your computer.

I got mine at 1010, and I got an e-mail from virgin and i used that password.

It is free, what do you expect?


Exactly how would your *fair* system have handled demand for Beastie Boys? Over 100,000 ticket inquries for a venue that holds less than 2,000.

Jeff...There was nothing "not-fair" about the Beastie tickets. You just weren't lucky enough to get them. Neither was I, but what do you expect for a huge act at a small venue?

As for the Virgin Fest, like so many others have said, what did you expect? Those of you complaining that you didn't get your email with the password...can you honestly say that if you had you wouldn't have shared it with YOUR friends?

Didn't think so. Get over it.

Ticketmaster is guilty of many crimes against humanity, but this is certainly not one of them. Ticketmaster presales have always worked this way. A limited number of tickets are release, and when they sell out, everyone else has to wait for tickets to go on sale to the general public. To have a different password for each person would require them to redesign the way their entire site works. Anyone who got an email with the pre-sale password had an entire hour to this morning to get tickets. I knew there was going to be a high demand for tickets, so I was on my computer at exactly 10:00 and had no problem getting tickets. Anyone who missed out on this presale learned a valuable life lesson, and if they want tickets, they know that they need to be waiting by their computer at 10:00 exactly on Saturday morning.

TicketMaster hates you, but loves your money. So in this case, they're just hating you.

I also heard from several people that while one of the passwords allowed you to get the tickets without a convenience charge, at least one of the other passwords did not. People were still charged a $5 convenience fee from Ticketmaster (NOT the $5 optional shipping fee if you didn't want to pick up the ticket). Personally, I think $5 is a small amount of money to pay for the festival, BUT if Ticketmaster and Virgin Mobile are going to advertise that they are waiving the convenience charge... well, they should stand by their words.

Amanda, I have been wondering about that all day! Why was there a $5 charge for a "free ticket, when it was explained that it was free from the usual ticketmaster cashgrab bull!

I mean, it's true $5 is nothing of a charge to see Public Enemy and Pete Tong....

But c'mon...Ticketmaster, really? You are ignoring the wishes of Sir Richard???

I got tickets this AM. In yer face! I even went back and got one more for my sister and it went smoothly. Gotta be on top of it people!

Anyone here a slickdealer? They had the presale password posted lastnight...


It isn’t the ticket seller’s job to be any more fair than to sell to first come, first served and to get them and out as fast as possible is the limit of their concern.
It’s been made their job to control how many tickets are sold per sale to limit scalping which they don’t really care about as long as it doesn’t negatively affect their bottom line.


Sam posting a comment with the password isn't really giving anything away if the other comments are any indicator. Sounds like this password thing is more of a nuisance than a true security device in giving anyone preference in obtaining tickets in this pre-sale.
It is careless to have one of the passwords with the $5 convenience fee, and one without.

Buying tickets these days is such a bitch and feeding frenzy, simply getting into a show is an achievement.

@ Mark Twain, BC, GDA, et al:

The problem with the Beastie Boys tickets isn't that there was a limited number (BTW, I DID get tix and I was there, so it's not sour grapes!). The problem is that the server(s) that were used to sell the tix on line were not up to the task and the system timed people out that were in the process of buying tickets and they ended up with nothing. Go back and look at Sam's blog entries with stories of this if you don't want to believe me. That was my point in bringing it up in the discussion.

there is a lot of misinformation in the post and comments.

it's easy to blame ticketmaster because they are the transaction agent, but they work at the behest of the promoters and venues. ticketmaster provides the service, the promoters and venues choose how to use the service.

I think the point for me is that Virgin and TM acted like they were doing people a favor through the presale, but then didn't really make an effort to actually limit the presale to those people. Why bother? I mean, there's nothing wrong with the way they did the presale, but it was a mistake to try to turn it into positive PR when they couldn't (or didn't intend to) back it up with actually limiting the people who could buy.

I mean, I'm thrilled because I got my tickets and I wasn't a part of the limited group, but the way they promoted it just seems dumb, because now there's all this backlash that they could have avoided.

Can anyone categorically confirm or deny that there will be tickets for sale tomorrow and that it didn't in fact sell out by accident ;-) If it's sold out I'll start my day earlier...THANKS

There will be a public "sale" tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Lots of people will be trying to get tickets - some with the intention of going, others trying to sell a free ticket for $50+.

Be on your computer by 9:55 a.m. Set up a Ticketmaster account and be logged in. Do NOT start refreshing, after a # of refreshes, the TM site times you out.

Best of luck.

Presale #2 is going on as we speak.

If you didn't get tickets, you weren't following Midnight Sun closely enough. Sam gave us us plenty of notice and one of his nice posters put the password out there for us. If you promise to read Sam's blog each and every day, Sessa will get you the 411 for the next big thang.

Any word on whether they are really canceling the orders of people who bought more than 2 tickets? I only got 2, I'll be mad if I find out people got away with getting more.

1. Consumers shared the passwords with non-Virgin customers
2. This is a free concert (demand is very high)
3. The promoter didn't want 35,000 passwords

Therefore, it's the ticketers fault?

Great. We didn't get any emails, we went last year, and the actual sale happened, no tickets. So now if I want to go, I'm going to have to pay 40+ dollars for a free festival that other people got the code for from friends and got tickets for. I don't mind paying, but don't lie and tell me that you sent it to my email addy when you didn't. Not to mention between my girlfriend and I, we have 4 emails registered for updates and info, and haven't gotten a single email about this show yet. Massive letdown.

Well i didnt get any tickets and i tryed both times i set by my computer and waited and hour and a half on thursday and today and they wher sold out in the first min it sucks i realy wanted to se the hold stedy and wezer

This is fun, being logged at the start of the feeding frenzy for tkts that still has slightly better odds than winning the lottery. An awfull lot of work to get to see a "free" fest. Maybe they should have a lottery for tkts, fewer of you would complain about being cheated by Ticketmaster, who keeps screwing up on all fronts.
Does Ticketmaster have any serious competition for these things?

its like, for the first time i felt like i could actually go see a good concert without having to just totally blow my money flow, i mean like, what does ticketmaster do? ticketmaster just sits on its ass. are an ass.

I read of this Freefest online, before the text to my virginmobile phone or email.
Too damn old for this game ,guess i will just pay more for my phone service now!
No Way!

First let me start by stating, Sam, your obviously not a thorough reporter to be writing articles that are not factual. Yes, the pre-sale released the password to those individuals that OPTED IN to receiving future emails from Ticketmaster AND the Virgin Mobile Festival in previous years AS WELL AS Virgin Mobile users. Since most people are inclined to click "opt-out of receiving future emails" these complainers did not get first crack at the tickets.
Secondly, tickets are sold on a first come first serve basis. For all those who [expletive], moan, groan, and whine that they did not receive a ticket, I say, TOO BAD. There are only a designated number of tickets that can be sold to the public. Ticketmaster had NOTHING to do this. People just need an outlet to complain because they don't know the facts. And then they rely on the newspaper, YOU Baltimore Sun, for the facts that Mr. sessa obviously cannot provide.

Useless newspaper going down in the gutter anyway. Good luck!


Where do you get your facts from?
You quote no sources.
Maybe playing the pot calling the kettle black?

Enlighten us further

Who would have guessed that the company who can't keep it's identity straight botched this one up. Virgin mobile can't even figure out whether its supposed to be trendy or economical, lol. If there's one thing you can count on Virgin for it's, botching things up. Thanks for screwing up my concert tickets Virgin Mobile. Thanks for this over priced phone that is supposed to trendy(lol, girls laugh at me when they see me use this thing) Virgin Mobile.

I had the password and completed 2 orders for 2 each, one to be mailed and one to be picked up at will call. Just the other day I noticed the will call order had been canceled by TM, but my order to be mailed is still "waiting to be printed." TM customer service said they are not mailing them out until mid-august to reduce the chance of scalping. Hmmm

Too right, @rich! I got a cell phone from a trendy, hip company with lots of cool. Now I just found out Virgin, my cell provider, is making a plan available of $10 for 120 minutes but only available to low income users! I dress quite informally, so now I worry every time I pull my phone out everybody will assume I'm on some welfare thing.
Major identity crisis - Virgin. Not me.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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