I got cheated out of this show and honestly think I might be done with U2 after almost 30 years of fandom.
I looked forward to seeing this show at the Ziggo Dome for 10 months, even though I knew it was going to be hard work. It always is. You have to join U2.com, because if you don't do the presale, it's nearly impossible to get tickets in Holland - it's the usual story of Ticketmaster putting you in the queue while tickets are already popping up on the resale sites that they own. You stress yourself out during the presale but you finally get some tickets. You arrange a babysitter, gas up the car, pay for parking and get there as early as you can so that you can wait in line for as long as you have to. You get in as fast as you can and claim the best possible spot on the floor, being mindful to respect the people who got there earlier. Then you defend your real estate as best you can, taking turns going to the bathroom and hoping people let you back in when you return. It's hard work, but it's usually worth it.
Only on 7 October, it wasn't. When my wife and I finally arrived at the front door of the Ziggo Dome, we were told that our tickets had already been scanned. It was suggested that we must have been careless in printing the tickets or that we must have been hacked. I'm not sure how either is possible (all my devices are password protected and I printed them one time on a protected printer), and I couldn't really believe it, but the security guards were very insistent that we leave, so leave we did.
According to Ticketmaster, the tickets were my responsibility. They promised to investigate but it seems unlikely that there will be any kind of compensation. So I'm out about 220 euro (not counting gas, food, babysitting costs, etc.) and all I got was a long drive to Amsterdam, and I ended missing a U2 tour for the first time since 1997.
One thing that's especially frustrating is the fact that it didn't matter that my name was on the tickets. Other artists performing at the Ziggo Dome have sold personalised tickets and insist on the bearer showing ID (as I write this, Mumford & Sons is going onside in the Netherlands with this policy). If U2 had instituted this, I'd likely have seen the show. Ticketmaster says this is something for the artist to decide, and man do I wish U2 had done something like this years ago.
This isn't the first time I had Ticket problems either. I also did a presale for the Joshua Tree tour in the Amsterdam Arena. My in-laws wanted seats and I looked for the best ones. Ticketmaster showed me 4 of the best seats, just to the right of the stage, but when the tickets arrived in my inbox, I saw that we had actually been given seats several sections further back, in an Arena with sound so bad I could basically say that I paid 190 euro per ticket to hear myself sing.
At first I thought I had imagined this or done something wrong, but when a second show was added, I logged into Ticketmaster and somehow got through. Again I was able to book seats in the best section, but once I clicked 'purchase,' I actually saw the tickets 'move' to another section. I asked Ticketmaster on Twitter how this was possible and they said it was possible if you have more than one tab open. I find that hard to believe, given that I don't know anyone who doesn't have more than one tab open when trying to buy concert tickets. It seems much more likely to me that this has something to do with Ticketmaster's variable pricing.
It seems like every concert these days has regular tickets and then it has silver, gold and platinum packages promising the best seats and some perks for substantially higher prices. I suspect that what happened to me was that, while I was purchasing my tickets, another customer who was willing to pay more selected the platinum package and the site gave my seats to that individual. I can't prove it, but it's the best explanation.
It also seems likely to me that artists also have some choice in whether or not Ticketmaster is allowed to offer these different pricing schemes. Not all artists seem to allow it, but U2 does and I really, really wish they didn't.
It's not always easy being a U2 fan. Ever since I bought my first cassette of Achtung Baby as a 12-year-old, I've had to put in some work. In college, I had to defend my favourite band against charges of uncoolness in the era of grunge. In adulthood, I had to defend Bono against constant criticism of "bringing his politics onstage," which is something I have actually always admired and supported, along with the band's commitment to social change (I would have loved to be present for Bono's speech about the EU in Amsterdam, for example). Hell, one time when I thought Time Magazine had been unfair in a scathing article about No Line on the Horizon, I sent a complaint letter and they even published a bit of it.
I've been a diehard fan for more than 2 decades, but I can't put the work in any more. It's too much work to try and get tickets, competing with the platinum purchasers and scalpers. It's too much money for me (I'm a teacher) and it's generally too much stress, especially now that I can't even be sure that my tickets will get me in or that anyone will care if I run into a problem.
I don't imagine that the band will cry about my absence the next time they're in town (I don't think they missed me this time), but I wish they'd take a look at their ticketing and maybe take a few steps to better service and/or protect their fans, if only to reward them for all the work they put in.