A day after ‘Bloody Tuesday’ (as our friends at atu2.com have named it) the start of U2 tickets presales for U2.com members has turned out disastrous for many of U2’s hardcore fans. Initially it seemed the EU subscribers were hit hardest, but U.S. fans fared no better in trying to obtain the ‘hottest ticket’.
We’d like to go back in time a bit and sum up pretty much everything that has happened so far, and explain why some fans have now dubbed the official U2 website “U2.con.”
The current incarnation of U2.com was initially scheduled to launch on the first of December 2004. Prior to this, various high profile U2 fan sites were contacted by Universal Music and instructed to either take down the U2 lyrics they featured on their site or face legal action. Webmasters were later told they would be able to obtain a license to publish lyrics on their sites, but so far nothing has been arranged.
The initial launch deadline was missed. When the site finally opened, fans experienced huge problems signing up for membership.
Former suscribers of Propaganda, U2’s official magazine, who were told they’d receive a 50% discount never got it and got signed up for a full $40 membership. Others got charged twice. (Fanfire, the company hired by U2 to deal with their webshop and memberships, is reportedly now succesfully addressing these issues.)
A lot of fans became members of U2.com solely because membership includes the chance to buy premium tickets during presales.
On Friday the 21st of January, Irish radio DJ Dave Fanning responds to an article in the Irish Mirror on membership problems with U2.com in his show on 2FM. He asks Sebastian Clayton (Adam’s brother who has overseen the launch of U2.com) to clarify a few things. Sebastian’s response:
“We’re still providing a really good service for free for fans, they’re getting all the news, they’re getting all the latest videos, audio, that kind of stuff. But if they (fans) want extra stuff, they can pay for it. We’re not trying to rip them off. We’re providing extra content and extra stuff. There is a cost to us, and we’re passing it along.”
“There have been a few technical problems purely because it’s been so popular. But we do have a support team online 24 hours a day, and we have been getting through all this backlog of problems people have been having.”
That same Friday, emails were sent out to all U2.com members to inform them dates would be announced that following Monday, with presales following on Tuesday the 25th of January.
In this email, it became clear the ticket presales would be limited to four tickets for any outdoor EU show, or two tickets for any indoor U.S. show, despite U2.com’s claim:
Priority Ticket Sales for the 2005 Tour // The 2005 Tour is being announced soon. It’s no secret that U2 tickets usually sell out in hours but we have secured agreement for U2.Com members to be provided with an advance window when they can buy U2 tickets at all venues before they are offered to the general public.
The e-mail also included the following:
Q – Will I get better seats than the general public? // A – U2.com have secured some of the best available tickets for U2.Com Subscribers.
D-Day arrived on January 25 10 am GMT, with European sales going belly up pretty much straight away. U2.com members who paid $40 for their priority ticketing and “guaranteed the best seat in the house” find out their presale codes are rendered invalid, thanks to timeouts on the Ticketmaster sites. Ticketmaster initially reactivates some codes, but apparently gives up at some stage (number of emails too overwhelming?).
Six hours later, tickets for gigs on the East Coast of the United States go on sale. This initially seems to be going more smoothly, until it becomes clear there are practically NO general admission tickets available at all, and the tickets that do become available are nosebleed seets at about $150 or more a pop. Some are even situated BEHIND the stage.
To make matters worse, Ticketmaster changes the floorchart while the sale is going on, so that people who think they’ve got a good view now end up having paid $300 for seats so far removed from the stage they’ll need binoculars.
Each following hour is marked by U2.com downtime from there on, and more disappointed fans around America. When the West Coast of the United States goes on sale, including the tour opener San Diego, the Ticketmaster site goes completely belly up. Users that have placed orders get server configuration errors when they want to finalise their sale.
The presale to the only Canadian date, Vancouver, seems to have been cancelled altogether without anyone getting ANY detail as to why. So far there has been no information forthcoming concerning this issue.
Pretty much immediately after each presale, tickets start appearing on Ebay at exuberant prices (over $1000) for all shows.
Later in the day, Ticketmaster Europe issues an apology to Euro fans, which can be read on U2.com. The cancelled code issue is fixed the following day, but presale general admission tickets for Brussels as well as London have now sold out. So far, Ticketmaster in the United States has not issued any statement.
An “Open letter to U2” site is put up within hours of the presales. Fans vent their frustration on our own site U2log.com, on @U2.com, but also on U2.com’s Zootopia forums. People demand their money back and some threaten to take legal action against U2.com for not providing services promised.
A number of questions arise:
- What will be done for fans who missed out on tickets?
- What will be done for fans who were forced to either buy crap/overly expensive tickets because they couldn’t get the tickets they wanted?
- What will be done for people who, to their horror, found out their carefully selected overpriced “at least they’re close to the stage” tickets are now at the back of the arena, thanks to Ticketmaster changing the floor plan during the day?
- How come general admission tickets are offered all over the place on eBay for silly money? How did these brokers manage to get tickets that were completely unavailable to the fans? What will U2.com do to fight eBay brokers?
- Why are general admission tickets in the United States about $45, whereas they are about EUR85 in Europe and up to 85 POUNDS for the Glasgow people?
- Will a refund be available for people who want their U2.com membership fee back?
At the time of writing this article, exactly 24 hours have passed since the presales started. It appears codes have been reset, but there is no information regarding this matter on U2.com or the Ticketmaster site.
We assume people behind the scenes must be as frustrated as we and every U2.com member out there are. The underlying problem is one of communication: promises were made that shouldn’t have been made. It should have been more clear from the outset that demand, even for presale tickets, would be far greater than supply.
We hope a workable solution to answer most people’s problems can be realised as soon as possible.
Here’s a selection of quotes from emails sent to us by fans affected by the current situation:
I was a member of Propoganda since the 80’s and the service they provided was fantastic. I actually miss the paper form they sent us.
I still love U2 even though today has been a day of despair and heart break. I just hope I can get a ticket soon.
I’m a huge fan of the band…have been for a very, very long time. Own all the records, singles, bought the freakin’ U2 iPod (when I already owned an iPod). To not be able to get even remotely decent seats on the paysite is nothing less than disheartening.
I’ve stayed up til 4am now (Im in Japan at the moment) trying to get tickets for the LA show and I just keep receiving a message that says “Internal system error” when I put the request through… what’s going on??
[I] appreciate the European info, but about North America, we have been kicked out after 3 – 15 min getting error messages: like “bad socket” “no connection made” “internal error” since 10 am.
In our time of need us folks here in Vancouver have been left in the dark as to when our presale has actually been slated to start. It sure isn’t 10AM local time which is at u2 have told us. Could you please post anything you know as soon as you know it because the fan site u2.com has left us out in the cold.
Your problems are not confined to Europe. There are many Southern California Members who have had problems. You can see many of there problems at craigslist.com, where they have resorted to looking for tickets from scalpers. I paid for my membership hoping to have a first crack at tickets, and I logged on at 10pm local time with my “code” and information for purchasing tickets. I proceeded to receive error messages for over an hour. Yes, I was doing everything right, and ended up finally getting tickets. I spent over $400 for 2 tickets which appear (from the venue map) to be a far distance from the stage. I have been a long time fan of U2, and am feeling very sore from the experience. U2 and U2.com OWE their fans more than this. I understand what happened this mornning was clearly unintentional. However, now is your opportunity to correct the situation. Ticketmaster has equal share in blame if not the full blame. However, simply pointing the finger at ticketmaster or ignoring the problem would be a great dishonor to the fans. Don’t forget we bought the membership from U2.com.
I can’t even tell you how much of a nightmare this is … The thing is I’m an old Propaganda person who never got the discounted code. I forked out the $40 because I want the same great seats I got with Propaganda. I just feel scammed … I love this band and have followed them for a long time. This just pains me to no end.