||Los Angeles Times
May 10, 2002
Stones Fans Will Get Satisfaction
So says the chief of a Web site that crashed in a mad rush for Rolling Stones tickets.
By GEOFF BOUCHER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Stones Tour: All Over the Map
They clicked and clicked and clicked some more, but vast numbers of Rolling Stones fans across the country who paid $60 for an Internet promise of an early chance to buy concert tickets instead spent frustrating hours Wednesday staring at a crashed Web site and wondering if they had been ripped off.
The word Thursday from the chief of the beleaguered Web site: Don't worry, everyone who bought a membership to the getAccess Web site will indeed be able to buy a pair of Stones tickets or they will get their $60 back. He explained that Wednesday, in rock 'n' roll terms, the stampede of hundreds of thousands of fans was just too much to handle.
"Everybody just kind of rushed the stage all at once, and it hit our systems and just fried the brains of the servers that handle the load," said Chris Hearne of Clear Channel, one of the partners in the getAccess site. "It took us 31/2 hours to get the site back up."
The getAccess Web site is a partnership between Sam Goody, the retail music chain, and Clear Channel, the concert promoter giant, and it launched this week with a pitch to music fans: Give us $60 and you get one-year access to certain concert ticket "pre-sales" (including the Stones), discounts and other concertgoer benefits.
The lure of Stones seats is, of course, a strong one.
The band's tours are the biggest-grossing road affairs in all of pop music and, this time around, the fan excitement is being stoked by a rare series of theater dates tucked in among the itinerary of arenas and stadiums.
Those small-venue shows, such as the Wiltern Theatre on Nov. 4, no doubt added more frenzy to the pre-sale offer, although Hearne now says there was only a minuscule number of those seats set aside for the getAccess pool. "We shouldn't have even bothered with the theater dates because we had such a small allotment," Hearne said. "We took it down almost instantaneously."
That may not sit well with the online users who thought their $60 investment in getAccess at least meant they had time on their side in the mad fan scramble to find a seat at one of the theater shows. Many fans are already seething over the Web site hassles and the whole concept of pre-sale for a price, which some see as merely a new-look service charge.
"This is just gouging," says Charles Kornett, a Riverside fan who took the getAccess route. "If everybody pays in for the presale, then what are you really paying for? Where's the exclusive deal in that?"
Stones promoter Michael Cohl said it was painful to watch the problems unfold Wednesday. "People were getting very frustrated and they couldn't buy tickets, and we are, after all, in the business of selling tickets and then putting on phenomenal shows," Cohl said. "It's unfortunate. There was $12 million and six months' worth of study and everything was working fine in the tests, but they hit a glitch. But now the site is back up and they've been humming."
As for the thought that pre-sales are a way to gouge more money out of consumers already paying ever-increasing prices and service charges, Cohl said he can understand that point of view.
But, he says, the band purposely created a wider range of prices for this tour and the pre-sale is for the die-hard fans who want to ensure they will be inside for Mick and Co.'s visit.
Pre-sales are not new for the Stones. A few years ago, the band agreed to a promotion with Sprint that wooed consumers into switching to the long-distance carrier by giving them exclusive access to a pre-sale of Stones seats. Cohl said about 8% of all the fans who came to the shows on that tour were "Sprint switchers" and he expects the getAccess members this time will represent a similar audience percentage.
And, with 25% of all the seats on the tour earmarked for the getAccess presale, Cohl said there should be no getAccess member who does not get a seat. "Are they going to run out of tickets for the L.A. allotment? No, I highly doubt it," Cohl said. (Before the Wiltern show, the band is scheduled to perform Oct. 31 at Staples Center and Nov. 2 at Anaheim's Edison Field.)
That does not mean getAccess members will get the exact seats or even prices they want.
For instance, Debbie Yatska of Encino spent six hours trying to get tickets for the Staples Center show by the Stones and, once she finally got through to the Web site, she saw the seating chart and realized the $99 tickets she wanted were too far from the stage to give a meaningful view of the action. So she ended up paying $160 a seat (not including the $60 membership fee) and now has buyer remorse.
"How can I even think this is remotely acceptable?" she said and moaned.
On Thursday, a weary phone operator handling customer service calls for the Web site said the fans were unleashing their frustration on him in colorful ways. "I have to tell them," he said, "obscenities are not going to help you."
Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times
||I got a refund, no trouble. Just be nice, don't rail at them and accuse them of running a scam operation...
They will give you a refund no questions asked. I had no problems geting a refund.