By Briane Nasimok
(TORONTO, ON) – Last week, performing another selfless act of step fathering, I spent many stressful moments trying to access tickets for Kanye West’s concert in November at the Air Canada Centre.
The designated stepson suggested that this would be the ideal birthday gift in lieu of the Lamborghini he so richly deserved for getting his G1. Being a somewhat unemployable freelance writer, who could easily find the time to join the great Internet rush when the seats were going on sale, I acquiesced to the request.
But, as an American Express cardholder since 1985 (they were the only company that would accept me at the time in my life when I was even more unemployable), I had the privilege of to going to the “Front of the Line”. This meant that, on paper, I could book tickets well before they went on sale to the great, unwashed masses that merely held VISAs and Mastercards.
Unfortunately, the request from the young man-wonder, came well after the early bird offer went public, so when I went to the Ticketmaster “Front of the Line” website, I discovered that there were only seats in the 300 level, a somewhat obstructed view behind the edge of the screen, with a price that seemed equal to the cost of a small Caribbean island.
So, I went to the phone to contact the Mecca directly.
I remember in the old days, before progress, all you would have to do was push “0” after the first recorded message and a wonderful, compassionate human being would be there to talk you through the ordeal. No such luck on this journey.
The following is, roughly, my adventure in direct dialling.
After punching in the 1-855 number, I was asked by a very pleasant, recorded voice which of the two official languages I would prefer. Tough call. I opted for “English”. Maybe next time I will press number two.
Following that, the choices came fast and furious, after of course, the obligatory announcement that this would be recorded for quality control or possibly so they could play it back later and laugh at my futility.
I was informed that I was going to the Main menu and asked if I wanted to buy tickets. “Yes,” I answered, as I was not there for a tarot card reading.
Was the event in Toronto? “Yes.”
For what event? Even though I asked for “Kayne West” somehow I was given the opportunity of hearing the dates and times of Keith Urban.
So when the time came, “Kayne West.”
After my choice was acknowledged, I was given the option of two dates and asked to repeat which one. “November 12.”
I was asked if my choice was November 12, after which I replied, “Yes,” my decibel level increasing ever so slightly.
The information on my choice was repeated and after I was asked if that was right I confirmed with a hearty, “Yes.”
How should they search for my tickets; price range, location, or available seats? I asked for, “price range,” and was told that they would be somewhere between $50 and infinity, with a limit of eight tickets per household. I opted for, “best seats available.”
The voice wanted to confirm that I was an Amex holder and my, “Yes,” came with a little more gusto and futility. I was congratulated for being a member.
This was followed by a query if I needed accessible seating and if so I was instructed to press 9.
And after a longish pause, I was informed that children under two could sit for free on adults’ laps. I am sure that Kayne has a big following in the toddler set. Didn’t he and Elmo do a duet? Maybe not.
Finally I was asked how many tickets I wanted to buy. With a sense of relief, “Two,” was my response.
After a search of the best location, low and behold with all its privileges, I was back up in section 306. Those were the “best available.”
I was not giving up.
Somehow I accessed the main menu again and went through steps one to four and then opted for November 13; a little louder and more intense. But I was informed that tickets, as yet, had not gone on sale to the general public.
Why taunt me?
“Goodbye,” I said, or something like that, which I am sure was caught on their recording of my ticket-buying attempt.
“Aha,” I said to myself. An idea!
I went back to the Amex website and found a different phone number where I could talk to a real human being, even though they were from a southern US exchange.
Eventually I pled my case to an agent, who had no power to help me jump the “Front of the Line” and buy the myriad of tickets that were to go on sale a mere ten minutes later.
So, back to the drawing board, which meant that, at 9:59 am, I was on the Ticketmaster website again, joining the unwashed masses who would be much more savvy at this ticket-procuring exercise than I.
10:00 am sharp. I opted for the just announced November 13 show seconds after they went on sale, and by 10:03 I had two tickets in section 106.
And a second mortgage to pay for those seats.
I had won. Another large step for mankind.