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Ticketmaster Struggles to Satisfy as Fans Rush for Free Tickets

by Lucy Bayly /
Fans of Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber react as he performs at a free open-air concert at Zocalo Square in Mexico City
Fans of Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber react as he performs at a free open-air concert at Zocalo Square in Mexico City June 11, 2012. REUTERS/Henry Romero?(C) Henry Romero / Reuters / REUTERS

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So much for rocking in the free world.

Hot on the heels of Ticketmaster's announcement on Tuesday that 50 million customers would receive discount codes and free tickets to upcoming concerts as part of a $386 million class action lawsuit over bloated service fees, the online ticketing platform is struggling to meet demand — and facing new dissatisfaction from would-be concertgoers.

The settlement was supposed to be Ticketmaster's attempt to repair the damage to its reputation after the lawsuit accused the ticketing giant of "deceptive" practices. However, a stream of technical snafus, dead ends, and lackluster concert choices has left customers less than impressed with Ticketmaster's handling of the distribution of freebie tickets and vouchers.

Customers were quick to fire off after the site went down, voucher codes failed to display or completely disappeared from customer accounts, and information on the free concert series (via Ticketmaster's parent company Live Nation) was slow to be released.

But feedback was swift once Ticketmaster finally tweeted on Tuesday afternoon, "Our site has experienced unprecedented demand... We are also experiencing extremely high call volumes and appreciate your patience as we work as quickly as possible to address all inquiries."

"How could you have been this unprepared? This settlement has been coming for YEARS," responded a frustrated customer. "Thanks for these useless 'active' voucher codes and wasting the last hour of my life. Burn in hell," wrote one dissatisfied customer on Ticketmaster's Twitter page. "Ticket vouchers still don't work as advertised. Your company is a giant smoldering garbage fire," added another.

Read More: America, Check Your Email: You Could Have Free Ticketmaster Tickets

To make matters worse, once the list of eligible concerts was released, customers hoping to see their favorites were disappointed to find the lineup included artists such as Steely Dan, Buckcherry, Queensryche, the Proclaimers, and an Elton John tribute band — with no mention of the marquee names currently advertised on Live Nation's website (like Kanye, Justin Bieber, and Drake).

"The Ticketmaster settlement of free tickets to Slipknot and Darius Rucker is the corporate equivalent of paying a parking ticket with pennies,” tweeted one disenfranchised concertgoer.

Additionally, many people were frustrated to find that eligible venues were only located in 19 states, rendering their "free tickets" practically worthless.

One customer had his own particular summary of the debacle: “A perfect illustration of my relationship with Ticketmaster over the last 15 years.”

Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but by Thursday morning it had posted on its website that, "Given the overwhelming interest, Ticketmaster is adding another $5m worth of eligible tickets so more class members can redeem ticket vouchers."

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