Tried to book some tickets for the Australian Open today, now that the details have been finalised and it finally seems that the tournament will go ahead with all the players available.  Had to book through Ticketmaster – the monopolist ticket seller.  After my shocking experience of their misleading advertising and customer service, I wonder how this behaviour can be allowed.  ACCC:  here’s a case for you to tackle.

So here’s what happened.  I was attracted firstly by the offer of AO tickets to Margaret Court Arena for $56, both in the press and on the website.  Went on to the AO website that links you into Ticketmaster automatically for ticket purchase.  I chose my day and even section of the stadium – all good so far.  Then:

  1. Tickets advertised for $56 turn out to be $145!

I went back to check.  Still advertised for $56 on earlier screens, but I see that is also the price for children (separately shown).  So I try another section of the ground, higher up, also showing $56 tickets.

2. Tickets showing ‘available’ are not available (‘Sorry’) when you try to pay for them.

I found some tickets at the very top of the section.  They were $56.  Great!  I clicked on them.  Got the message that they were not available for booking.  I tried another set of apparently available tickets in the same section.  Same message – not available.

I tried a different section where the seats were advertised (when I got to the section) for $44, probably due to being partially in the sun, but I was getting desperate.  This time I got a new message!  But still a ‘No’ – ‘you haven’t left two seats clear.  Please choose again’.  Actually, there were only 4 seats available – next to each other – and so this was not even possible.

‘Yarra Valley Classic’ Ticket Booking Experience

Disappointed, I tried to book tickets for one of the 6 warm-up tournaments being held this week.  At least I’d get to see some of the players.  Tickets were advertised on the website for $20 for adults and $5 for kids.  I chose the Yarra Valley Classic, as Ash Barty was to play in this one.

3.  ‘No search results for this event’

Searching on the Ticketmaster site initially revealed the message ‘no search results for this event’.  Rather odd, since it starts today…

I found another way to search by going to ‘Tennis’ within the Ticketmaster site…and all 6 tournaments popped up!  Great!  So I tried to book 2 tickets on a week day… and got the following outcome.

4. Ticket offer of $165!

For this tournament, I could not search for a section and was offered specific seats (front row Section 2!) with no other choice at $165!!.  As this was nothing like what I was looking for, I gave up at this point.

The Ticketmaster Monopoly Needs to be Challenged

I’ve had lots of problems with Ticketmaster over the years, but increasingly they seem to be the monopoly provider of tickets to major events.  Customers have little alternative choice.  As well, Ticketmaster generally charges outrageous commissions on credit cards, when this is almost the only way to book.

Actually, if the monopolist actually delivers the service at the stated price, I don’t mind.  But – and I have found this previously in trying to book tickets with Ticketmaster – you get directed to more expensive tickets, given limited time to make a decision, and feel ‘lucky’ to have survived the experience. 

In today’s experience, Ticketmaster:

  • misled me on the price I would have to pay
  • offered me seats which were not available
  • did not even have a proper link to the tournament beginning today
  • gave me no ticket choice for this tournament
  • offered me an outrageously priced ticket for what is, in effect, a practice event.

ACCC, where are you?  Surely I’m not the only one complaining about Ticketmaster.  Consumers are desperate to see this once-a-year event (as are most of the Ticketmaster events) and Ticketmaster is taking advantage of us.  Time to stop them.  Help!