Ticketmaster holdback, pricing practices irk Kings of Leon fan

Julia Crawford paid almost $800 for two second-row floor tickets to the upcoming Kings of Leon concert at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. But a month later, she found out the so-called "Platinum Seats" weren't really the second row.

What started out as a perfect birthday gift has now become a nightmare for Julia Crawford

Closer, cheaper section added after woman pays $790 for two 2nd-row seats 2:30

A Vancouver woman wants to get the word out about what she calls "questionable practices" by Ticketmaster.

Julia Crawford paid almost $400 each for two second-row floor tickets to the upcoming Kings of Leon concert at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

The total cost, just under $800, wasn't an issue, because the experience was meant to be a special birthday present for her daughter — a big fan of the band.

Julia Crawford paid almost $800 for two second-row floor tickets to the upcoming Kings of Leon concert at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. But a month later, she found out the so-called "Platinum Seats" weren't really the second row. (CBC)

But a month later, Crawford found out the so-called "Platinum Seats" weren't really the second row.

The promoter had opened up a whole new general admission standing section in front of her seats, and was selling those tickets for much less — about half as much.

"I paid for floor seats and unobstructed views. And now, you know, you're telling me I'm not going to be able to see the band?," Crawford said..

Crawford called Ticketmaster to find out what was going on and spoke with someone in customer service.

Where's the second row? Julia Crawford was upset when Ticketmaster later released cheaper standing "seats" in front of her floor section. (CBC)

"She says the band and the promoters, I guess, decided at the the last minute to open a general admission area in front of the rows."

Crawford showed CBC News a printout from Ticketmaster's website that appeared to show a seat in the third row of chairs on the floor, right near her seats,on sale for much less, at just under $90.

She said she just doesn't understand why her tickets were so much compared to the other tickets around her seats.

'Confusing' dynamic pricing

Mario Livich, founder and president of Vancouver-based ticket broker ShowTime Tickets​, explained the difference was likely due to something called "dynamic pricing."

He said seat and section holdback and releasing cheaper tickets later on, is a business practice Ticketmaster and other ticketing agencies are experimenting with more and more.

Crawford also wondered how tickets for seats almost directly behind hers were around $300 cheaper than what she paid. (CBC)

He calls it "dynamic pricing."

"What they [the companies] are trying to do is get as much money as they can for the promoter for every seat in the building," Livich said.

"It's very confusing for consumers. Something's offered at a certain price, and they exercise the option to buy, and here they find tickets for half the price later," he said. 

Livich's main advice for ticket-buyers wishing to avoid the dynamic pricing market is "don't panic" when a show goes on sale. 

Instead, he says buyers should decide on a price they are comfortable with, be patient, work with a reputable source to find the tickets at they desired price, buy from a reputable source, and always use a credit card.

Ticketmaster responds

In the end, Crawford asked Ticketmaster to refund the difference between her tickets and the tickets sold for the new section in front of hers, but the company says that's not an option.

Ticketmaster's Jacqueline Peterson said the company instead offered Crawford a swap.

"We have offered the fan, if she wants, general admission tickets, which would be potentially a vantage point, because it's GA and right next to the stage," Peterson said. "But she's declined that."

Crawford says she doesn't want to be in the standing-only section with her daughter. She wants to keep her seats, but be refunded the difference in price.

"I feel ripped off. I paid for a service and I don't feel like I'm getting it," Crawford told CBC News.

Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Have you been confused about sections and prices when trying to buy tickets for a concert? 

Did your seats turn out to be something other than what you thought they were?

With files from the CBC's Farah Merali


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