Willingly I fall for my cell provider's propaganda to stave off the price of a few more minutes. But we don’t always face the corporate assault with choice.
I’m a regular recipient of concert promotions via email. I find an event I desire, click, and leap to an opportunity to purchase. When an event is popular, a little stress kicks in as you request tickets and await availability. It’s part of the game and leads to fairy tales.
Once upon a time I sought tickets to a popular concert. Navigating to the Ticketmaster website, I’m greeted by the restriction: MAXIMUM PURCHASE – FOUR TICKETS. Four tickets. But I need five. While I know the limit is an attempt to fend off scalpers, can we finally admit that scalpers can’t be beaten? They will win. Always. If we want to round up all the scalpers, let’s get together and launch a sting operation. We go to Craigslist. We click on tickets, one stop shopping for illegal ticket resales. As the saying goes, ‘It’s not brain surgery.’
I call Ticketmaster’s 800 help number.
“Hi,” I say. “I want to buy tickets for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but your website says you can only buy four tickets.”
“That’s right,” the Ticketmaster representative responds.
“But, uh, it’s for my son’s birthday and I need a total of five. Is there any way I can do that? I mean, I’m not a scalper or anything.”
“Well, if you have two credit cards with two different billing addresses, you can buy eight tickets,” he explains.
I explain the complications of enlisting a friend to help in this process, that the tickets going on sale will be gone in a flash online, so I can’t wait and come into an in person Ticketmaster location, and if I do it as two transactions online, our seats won’t be together.
“That’s our policy,” he reiterates.
I hang up and tell my son he has to cut a friend. And I flash on my friend with a family of five, imagining Little Jenny’s potential desire to attend a concert with a maximum ticket purchase of four and her mother turning to her and saying, “Which sibling would you like to leave at home?”
I see my friend sitting down her three children, her husband hovering behind her, to explain that one must assume the role of Cinderella and stay behind and clean while the rest pile into a car dressed for an evening out. “Ticketmaster believes I should only have had two kids,” she says in closing.
“Sarah’s the youngest, so she should stay home,” the middle child cries. “Besides, she was an accident.”
“Who told you that?” my friend questions, eyes drifting over to curious Sarah.
“You did,” replies the oldest, secure in her place in the pecking order.
“Maya should stay home since she’s the oldest,” cries young Sarah. “She’s the only one allowed to be home alone.”
“Good point,” says John, the father who desperately wants to volunteer to stay home so that he doesn’t have to sit through a performance he has no desire to see, but he remains silent not wanting to provoke an evil stare from his wife.
I know scalping is a serious problem – well, maybe not in relation to global politics and escalating health care costs – but this four-ticket limit is ridiculously rigid. The limit of four tickets doesn’t stop scalpers. They have a network of a zillion all partying together and buying four tickets. When the company implemented its four-ticket policy for popular events, did it really not consider families of more than four members? Or friends who want to go out as a group? Is everything about dissuading crime?
And then I realize that it is. Many of our nation’s policies are defensive acts in anticipation of abuse of a system. And while there are plenty of abusers who have put these actions in motion, where are the escape clauses for the law abiders? When we give up our liberties to fend off an enemy, can’t we see that the enemy has won?
And no, I’m not getting political. I’m not talking about the Bush administration and how we’ve been scared into accepting previously unthinkable policies. I’m not saying the terrorists have won because Bush keeps trying to convince us to walk around in fear, handing over rights as the price of admission to this country. I’m not saying any of that.
All I’m saying is that Ticketmaster should let me buy more than four tickets for a popular concert. Really. That’s all I’m saying.