When I was told, "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't," I wasn't really listening. I heard the "too good to be true" part, then I kind of spaced out. That's what happens when I hear "free." My eyes glaze over and I start to salivate. Mostly metaphorically, but the common sense part of my brain begins to shut down and I start to lurch toward whatever special offer hangs in front of me. Before I revert completely to that slobbering lizard brain that seeks out only those things too good to be true, the left side of what is left of my gray matter tries to focus in on the fine print. There has to be a catch.
There always is one. A catch, that is. Most of the time, I catch myself before I put on my shoes and leave the house. Sometimes the fresh air is enough to bring me back to my right mind. They aren't really giving away new cars. Or big screen TVs. They're dragging you to their store/lot/showroom to try and convince you to buy something to ease the disappointment you feel when you don't win. But what happens when you don't get that breeze in your face?
Sitting in front of my computer a few nights ago, I spotted a story on Al Gore's Internet that said Ticketmaster was giving away tickets. It seems that after years of charging all those "convenience fees," a lawsuit was made and eventually settled to the tune of many millions of dollars. As it turns out, a small chunk of this court-directed largesse was pointed in my direction, verified by a quick check of my Ticketmaster account. At the time, I went immediately to the link that promised to show me the available events for which I could exchange my vouchers for free tickets. Free.
I should have seen it coming. I wanted to go see Flight of the Conchords, and lo and behold their show was included on the list of available events. I spent the next hour or two trying to get their web site to fork over the free tickets. "Sorry, we are unable to process your request at this time. Please try again later." That's what I did. Later. Then again early the next morning. When business hours for the customer service folks began, I was poised and ready. I dialed.
I really don't know what I should have expected. It's a great big tentacled corporation that has been taking my money for decades now, and I really expected it to reverse that trend? All those free tickets were gone. The limited number of tickets released to each of the selected shows were gobbled up almost immediately. Not that their web site could give me that message, nor the first two customer service representatives who insisted that I should be able to simply apply my voucher codes to the blah, blah, blah, blah. No, it won't work. I was put on hold again to have my concern escalated. Escalated to a guy who told me the same thing, but when I walked through the steps with him on the line and asked him to do the same, he came up empty as well. There were no free tickets. Gone, they were. Absent. Snapped up. Not sold out, but given out. Handed to those who were not me. They were someone else. Without a clear explanation of the process or an expectation of how I might expect to use my vouchers, even though I have years to use them.
Thanks for the adventure, Ticketmaster. The thrill of the chase and so on. Things went back to normal after I hung up the phone. I still have all those vouchers, and sometime in the future I hope to turn them into something besides the hollow offer of free. Hope is the thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson once wrote. I won't be flying anywhere soon.