Featured / Union

Ticketmaster can take a hike

Author’s update: At 3pm on Wednesday, May 25. I finally received the email for access to the season ticket holders presale, 29 hours after the presale actually started. The email was from marketing@philadelphiaeagles.com. Nice. The Eagles can take a hike too.

Ah, those Union v Real Madrid tickets.

In the lead up to Tuesday’s 10am presale for Union season ticket holders, it was hard to find out any Real Information about the particulars. You know, the little things like how a season ticket holder might gain access to the presale or how much the tickets might cost.

As far as I could tell, the information wasn’t on the Union website. The most recent post there that I could find before the presale was almost entirely about how anyone who bought pro-rated season tickets would gain access to the presale. There are, what, maybe a few hundred season tickets left and, what, over 12,000 already existing season ticket holders? Talk about your mixed up priorities.

Elsewhere, the “Buy Tickets” link on the World Football Challenge website for the game linked you back to the Union home page, so that was no help either.

Come Tuesday morning, I still didn’t know what was going on.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Shortly before 8am I sent an email to my season ticket rep at the Union—who is totally awesome, by the way, and the only reason I won’t name him here is for fear of causing embarrassment or trouble—asking what’s what. He got back to me within thirty minutes and said an email would soon being going out to all season ticket holders with the necessary info.

I thanked my lucky stars for having so attentive and helpful a ticket rep, made sure both my ticket rep and the Union were on my email safe list (both already were) and waited.

And waited.

And waited so more.

At 10:01am I sent my ticket rep a message telling him I still hadn’t received the email from the Union (I still haven’t). He almost immediately sent me back the access code. I still didn’t know where to enter the code, though.

Another message to my rep later and he forwarded me the html email that links to Ticketmaster, the one I should have already received. At least it linked to Ticketmaster yesterday. Today when I click on it a blank screen comes up that says “Forbidden You don’t have permission to access /event/020046B3C8518C9D on this server.”

So, around 10:10am on Tuesday morning, I finally had access to the presale at Ticketmaster. I also for first time learned how much the tickets actually cost. Just so you know, the tickets range in cost from $30 to $225. Sons of Ben tickets are $35.

But, buying tickets from Ticketmaster is like buying an airline ticket: whatever the ticket “costs,” what you pay will be significantly more.

And forget about a $30 or $35 ticket (if you are not a SOB) and want a seat at the Linc that is anything like a seat a PPL in terms of proximity to the field.

Ticketmaster can take a hike

I sit in section 117 at PPL in The Land End. In 2010, I sat in the equivalent section—section 111—for the DC United, FC Dallas and Manchester United games at the Linc. Naturally, I wanted to sit in the same place for the Real Madrid game.

It took me, I don’t know, nine, ten, eleven attempts at “selecting” my seats—each time entering the same quantity, the access code, various price and location combinations, as well as those squiggly letter non word security phrase combinations (which, of course, change with each new “selection”)—before I finally gave up and just accepted what I was given.

At no point was I given the option to make a location more specific than “Endline.” At no point did any seats in section 111 (or 112) at the Linc show up as available, which is kind of strange thirty minutes into a presale. Needless to say, the seats I settled for are nowhere near where I wanted them to be.

Oh, those add on charges

Me and a friend have a total of ten season tickets on our accounts. With him out of town, it fell to me to buy the tickets that everyone on the account wanted, a total of 16. Each of the “$40” tickets had an additional facility charge of $4, a convenience charge of $8.15, plus an overall order processing charge of $3.55. That means each “$40” ticket actually cost $52.37. Nearly 24 percent of what I paid for each ticket went to add on charges. And, if I had wanted the tickets delivered to me quicker than in 10 to 14 days, the cost would have been even more.

So, instead of being happy about having tickets for the match, I felt disappointed, cheated and disgusted.

But even with the crap experience I had with the presale, at least I got in. A tweet from the Sons of Ben on Tuesday morning said, “And of course, the SS Code isn’t working now. The Eagles ticket office is working on it! We’ll update as soon as we know more.”

When I told my ticket rep about my displeasure, starting with me saying how I knew there was nothing the Union could do, he told me he understood how I felt, that it was like the Union were the visiting team in their own city.

It is not the Union’s fault

The Union v Real Madrid match is out of the Union’s hands—they are one of two entertainers on a bill owned by World Football Challenge in a stadium run by the Philadelphia Eagles. They can’t compel Ticketmaster to adhere to the admirable customer service standards the club has maintained from the start, standards that begin with the ability to contact real people with real names who respond promptly and almost always to complete satisfaction.

But the next time the Union has some high profile friendly and it is not their event, I’m not so sure I’ll be shelling out my time and cash to join in the fun. In fact, I’ve already told the people I bought tickets for that, next time, they’re on their own.

I don’t even like Real Madrid.


  1. It sounds like you wanted a certain amount of seats in a particular section. I’m thinking it may have been a better decision to call ticketmaster to make the purchase. I don’t know for sure, but I think they can override the “Best Available” setting and sell tickets in particular sections and rows.

    Also, in the last 10? or so years I’ve never spent less than $8 per ticket in ticketmaster fees when using their system. Ticketmaster is what it is at this point. The Union have for the most part been ticketmaster free except for venues that they don’t control (The Linc). Even more venues are using livenation (not much better) or just selling tickets themselves.

    I guess the bottom line is that this whole match is a cash grab for WFC, Real Madrid, and The Eagles. The Union are playing, so I’ll be there, but I know what I’m getting into.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      I’m sure wanting to buy 16 tickets was a factor but I still don’t understand how that number of tickets wasn’t available in section 111 (presuming I could have specifically selected that section, which, of course, I couldn’t) within 30 minutes of the presale starting.
      I can’t remember if Ticketmaster handled the home opener last year but I was able to get nearly 60 tickets for that. For Manchester United it was 40 tickets. All of them were in the section I wanted. (Same with the USA v Turkey match – 25 tickets – but I got them through US Soccer as a USSC member – they even waived the fees because of the number of tickets I bought.) I think for Manchester United I could only get 8 tickets at a time – a nightmare in itself – but all were in the same section and in the same general group of rows.
      I do admit I have had very little interaction with Ticketmaster. No doubt, the customer service the Union provides has spoiled me. But I hate feeling like a sucker for buying tickets to see my team against a Euro side I absolutely hate.

      • I don’t think the number of tickets had anything to do with it. I just wanted 2 tickets and ran into the same problems as you. My Union ticket rep was helpful, as she always is, but the ticketmaster process blows. To make matters worse, I selected my tickets and since I supposedly had 5 minutes counting down to finalize the purchase, I logged on to another session to see if I could do better. I found I couldn’t and went back to buy the ones I’d selected and the site kicked me out. It was still counting down and at about 2 minutes left!!! So I lost those seats and had to settle for some I was even less happy with. What should have been a most satisfying experience of buying tickets to see my team take on a major international opponent was ruined.

  2. I run an event every fall that sells over 6,000 tickets – most of which are pre-ordered (online, phone). Granted, all tickets are gen admission (no assigned seats) and 1 event with 6K patrons is nowhere near as difficult to run as several events with 30K or more, but online ticket sales are easy to manage – just ask the Union reps – and do not require such ridiculous fees.

    As for calling Ticketmaster: I tried last year for the MUFC/Union match. The rep had no idea which event I was talking about and wasn’t able to give me specific sec/row/seat info (he “didn’t have access to it”). Eventually he figured it out, but told me that I should just order online because he couldn’t do any better. “Convenience Fee” my ass!

  3. Good one, Ed, you made my day!! I received the email around 10.10am and must have made 5 attempts with the SOB code until it finally worked. Then ended up with row 12 in our section (130). Thought all the rows had filled up from 10am until I finally ordered (around 10.20am) but turned out that someone who ordered at 3pm ended up with row 1!!! So the way they sell tickets is totally random. That explains why there were so many United supporters in our ‘SOB’ section last year that caused so many problems (we wanted to stand but were abused and told to sit down, etc.).

    What they should do is sell tickets from the back of say section 130 and work forward. Then if we do not sell the section out then at least we will not obstruct anyone who likes to sit down.

    They should also have a map of the stadium and you should just be able to click on an unsold seat to be able to purchase a ticket for that particular seat. Tickets for WC matches and a lot other ones are sold like that.

    Glad that we have Ticketleap in Philly who are growing and will hopefully take more and more business away from Ticketmaster.

  4. The same thing happened to me…I have season tickets in 117 (Row B) as well…I wanted those seats for the Real Madrid game…Alas, all of my combinations of Lower Level/Endline wouldn’t bring up seats in 111 or 112. I ended up paying $50 a ticket (with surcharges) to sit all the way back in Row 32 of one of the corner sections. Thanks Ticketmaster!

  5. I stated the other day that I will not be attending for all of the reasons listed. If the Union were not going to make an absurd amount of money off of Ronaldo lovers this whole situation would drive me up a wall. I would guess that we did not get the best deal in this contract and although we will probably never know I’m going to hope we made out fairly well.

  6. Now you know what us Eagles season ticket holders go through all the time. Like back in March when there should have been an option to pay half the remaining balance on your account. Funny how that option wasn’t available, then in May the Eagles say “we are allowing season ticket holders to delay payment on the second payment (May) due to the NFL lockout”, when in reality you had already paid in full (March) because the option to only pay half (in March) was mysteriously missing from their web site.

    Eagles do this all the time…because they can get away with it. Don’t feel so bad…I never got my pre-sale access code from the Eagles even though I got a pre-pre-sale email from them saying they were going to send me a code to buy tickets (because I’m such a great guy and I pay in full all the time (sic)).

  7. Great post. You’re one of thousands in a similar predicament. The extortion fees may be just a blink for the Eagles fan when their game already sells out in less than 10 minutes, but I expect they should have trouble getting many tickets sold in advance with such limited options. Soccer supporters are expected to cough up all this extra money… for a friendly. Then, when the stadium has “only” 29,000 or 34,000 people there the pundits can look at this and say that soccer is a second tier sport and that’s why they didn’t have to open the second tier. Done right, this exhibition game could have 60,000+ fans! But they would rather gauge the prices and have an fan-exclusive event than have the extra expense of a full stadium in a fan-inclusive event. Thanks, Ticketmaster and Lincoln Financial Field.

  8. hey, question: can anyone tell me if the “sons of ben” section for the union vs. real madrid game is assigned seating or is it just an open section? i think i remember going to a game at the linc (usa vs. turkey i think) where you could just sit wherever you wanted in the section. didn’t know if it would be the same for this game also.

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