Photo (cc) by stephan_vereno
Most of you know I’ve had a hate/hate relationship with Ticketmaster for a long time now.
After all, this is the company that wrote the book on ridiculous consumer fees that, many people argue, only serve to exploit their hapless customers. It’s a practice that’s all the more galling because of their current market dominance, which, if you ask me, borders on a monopoly.
Last weekend, Ticketmaster gave me yet another excuse to despise them. I was on their website trying to purchase seats for an upcoming Maroon 5 concert at the Hollywood Bowl — which wasn’t easy considering I was typing with my right hand while holding my nose with the left — when I came to the obligatory “Captcha” screen that is used by many websites to weed out automated bots.
I think most of you are familiar with Captcha. Normally, you’ll see something like this:
So perhaps you can imagine my surprise when I saw this:
That’s right. Instead of an innocuous two-word verification code, I got an advertisement with a longer marketing slogan for a password: “Save with DISH.”
Now, I won’t begrudge a company’s quest to make a few extra cents through strategically placed advertising; obviously, I do it here on my blog. But this was a bit much for me to take considering that it was coming from Ticketmaster.
Why, I wondered, couldn’t Ticketmaster be satisfied with the ticket sale and their infamous 25 percent “convenience” fee they were going to get after I clicked the “purchase” button — especially considering they’re the only game in town?
Needless to say, I refused to play their game.
Instead, I opted for a new set of words, hoping the traditional Captcha screen would come up. Unfortunately, I got another advertisement from Dish — only with a new, even longer slogan: “Watch Live TV Anywhere.”
I still wasn’t going to bite. So I hit the “New Word” option yet again and got an ad for Dawn Ultra dish soap. This time, however, the ad specified that I had to click the ad box a second time before it would reveal the code. I know.
By now, I was curious to see how much more absurd this whole process could get, so I played along and clicked the ad. That revealed the longest password yet: “Dawn cleans 2x more greasy dishes.” I’m not kidding, folks.
Obviously, the Captcha slogans were getting longer with each request I made for a new verification code. And it didn’t take a genius to see that it wouldn’t be long before a McDonald’s Big Mac ad was going to pop up asking me to type, “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.”
With that in mind, I knew that if I was going to get any tickets before they sold out, it was in my best interest to enter that dang dish soap tagline into Ticketmaster’s new money-making Captcha tool.
So I swallowed my pride and typed.
A few minutes and $55.40 in “convenience” fees later, I had four tickets in my hand to see Maroon 5 at the Hollywood Bowl.
You’d think I would have been happy after scoring tickets to a high-demand event, but I wasn’t.
Then again, with Ticketmaster, that’s par for the course.