U2 fans get screwed

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Sat Feb 5 07:13:46 CST 2005

>From Reuters at:

U2 Fans Bemoan 'Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday'
Fri Feb 4, 6:26 PM ET   Entertainment - Reuters 
By Ray Waddell 

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Even in the concert business,
the laws of supply and demand are irrevocable. 

That harsh reality hit home for thousands of U2 fans
when huge demand taxed the presale system for U2's
Vertigo tour, leaving many fans with less than
desirable seats or no tickets at all. 

As much as 30% of tickets were allotted for the
presale, sources say, a generous percentage. Even so,
demand greatly outstripped supply. 

And as on-sales for the general public have now shown,
the mania surrounding the tour rivals any in history.
Tour organizers walk a fine line between satisfying
public demand and keeping u2.com members happy. 

That could be a stiff mandate. Irate fans who paid $40
to join the fan club site for a chance to purchase
choice tickets on Jan. 25 prior to the general public
have made their feelings known in vitriolic postings
at U2's official Web site. 

Referring to the on-sale issues as "Tuesday, Bloody
Tuesday," one fan wrote, "What's the point of spending
$40 for the membership of the site and getting a lousy
seat for more than $165?" 

Another ticked-off fan wonders, "How are so many
tickets already on eBay for thousands of dollars?" 

In Europe, where problems seem to have been even
worse, a U.K. fan writes, "What we have got is
complete ineptitude, incompetence and disregard of U2
fans by U2's management, the Web site, Ticketmaster
and, dare I say it, U2 themselves." 

In response, U2 plans to make more tickets available
when the tour returns to the United States this fall.
"Don't forget, if you have a subscriber code, it will
still be honored when the band plays more dates," was
the official message posted Jan. 30 on u2.com. "There
will be more tickets for u2.com subscribers." 

Data captured by u2.com and Ticketmaster during the
presale process will show who used their unique
password and whether they succeeded in obtaining
tickets. Most fans affected have been or will be
contacted, and attempts are being made to resolve
these issues, sources say. The surest way to address a
demand issue is by upping the supply, and U2 will be
on the road for most of 2005. 


U2 worldwide promoter Arthur Fogel, president of Clear
Channel-owned TNA International, insists the snafus
and disappointed customers are just symptomatic of an
incredibly hot tour. 

"These fan club presales go on all the time, but
they're usually under the radar," Fogel said. "This
one (was) beyond belief. There's no question there
have been some technical glitches and some
dissatisfied people, but people are working as best as
possible to sort it all out." 

Clearly, ticket brokers and scalpers added to the
problem. Their modus operandi is to buy as many
tickets as possible, then resell them at a much higher
price. With tickets offered by brokers topping $1,000
apiece, a $40 fan club fee is a small investment. 

"The reality is, there's nothing to stop a broker from
joining a fan club and being part of a presale," Fogel
said. "As a broker, you spend every day of your life
trying to figure out how to beat the system." 

U2's official site acknowledged the scalper issue: "We
are very aware that some people seem to have abused
the system to scalp on eBay or similar sites ... We
are currently looking into the possibility of
identifying these people and withdrawing their
tickets. Any help you can give us on this would be
gratefully received." 

In retrospect, insiders say, the biggest mistake may
have been not cutting off membership -- some estimate
100,000 fans signed up-to the presale at u2.com. But
there was no way of knowing who would buy for which,
if any, shows, and bands have rarely been faced with
the prospect of turning away fans from fan sites. 

"There is no question the demand, both here and in
Europe, is as high as I've ever seen, and with that
comes difficulties in managing that kind of volume,"
Fogel said. 

All U.K. shows sold out, with more than 260,000 seats
gone, and 55,000 sold for the June 10 European opener
in Brussels. Sellouts in the United States include
four shows at Chicago's United Center and three at
Boston's FleetCenter. In total, more than 600,000
tickets sold in less than a week. 

It looks as if U2 is well on its way to realizing a
potential gross in excess of $250 million, and it is
doubtful relationships with fans will be seriously
harmed. History shows much will be forgotten once the
first note is played in San Diego on March 28. 

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!

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