I tried to redeem my free Ticketmaster concert vouchers. It was a hellish experience.

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Did you hear the news about Ticketmaster having to give away free tickets as part of a lawsuit settlement? Did you check your account to see if you had received any vouchers? Did you see multiple codes worth two free tickets? Did you get excited about all the cool shows you were going to see?

I used to be like you. But then I actually tried to redeem those vouchers—and I was reminded that, no matter what, Ticketmaster will always find a way to screw you.


The entertainment company has to provide the free tickets as part of a $386 million lawsuit over the high fees it charges people who buy tickets online. Anyone who bought a ticket between 1999 and 2013 is eligible to receive ticket vouchers and discount codes, which are supposed to be entered at check-out.

Actually attempt to do what Ticketmaster is telling you you can do, however—that is, get a free ticket to a show you want to see—and the caveats begin almost immediately, as I discovered when I made the attempt myself.


When I first checked my account, I was excited to see that Ticketmaster had blessed me with six vouchers (I go to a lot of live podcast recordings). I decided to try and score some free tickets at local venues. And that is where my troubles began.

First, you can't just go to any old show. The vouchers can only be used to get general admission tickets at a pre-screened list of shows performed at selected Live Nation venues. For me, that meant a three-hour drive into the depths of New Jersey if I wanted to see any of the shows on offer.

And then there's the list itself, which is fairly underwhelming. Almost all of the venues made available initially were large stadiums, which put pretty hefty limits on the locations (mostly suburban), acts (big arena tours) and seats (general admission lawn spots) you could choose from.

People were less than thrilled.


But let's say that you still decide to go to one of these concerts. Well, good luck with that, because each show on the list has a limit to how many free tickets can be claimed for it. After that, the vouchers that Ticketmaster was ordered to provide to people will no longer work.

I figured this out when I bit the bullet and attempted to get tickets to see Gwen Stefani. (I haven't listened to her much since the days of No Doubt, but my editor said she is "worth seeing.") Every time I entered the voucher code, Ticketmaster would spit out an error message.


I tried all six of my voucher codes and got the same error every time. The concert has since been removed from the list, so I can only guess that a lot of other people share my editor's love for Gwen.


How about Duran Duran? I wouldn't call myself a fan, but I've been known to be
"Hungry Like the Wolf" from time to time.


No? What about Hall & Oates. It's been a while since I heard them through anything but a phone speaker, but I could see that being fun.


Dozens of shows ended up returning this message for me as I tried to redeem my vouchers. I finally started from the beginning and just started trying my codes on every show on the list in my extended, local area. I would say one out of every six shows I tried, my voucher would go through and I would end up with two completely free tickets.

Thanks to that process, I've scored tickets for the following shows.

  • Slipknot
  • Sublime with Rome
  • G-Eazy and Logic
  • Ryan Adams and The Shining with Kurt Vile and the Violators
  • Brandi Carlile with Old Crow Medicine Show & case/lang/veirs
  • I Love The 90's With Salt N Pepa & More

It's going to be an interesting summer.

To add insult to injury, when I checked the site the next day, Ticketmaster seemed to have completely redesigned the entire process. Shows that no longer have free tickets available had been removed from the list, which was now sorted by region, and more venues were added to the list—and not just ones in Camden, N.J.


While I'd love to trade my Slipknot tickets to see The Proclaimers instead, the new list still leaves a lot to be desired (although Mets and Phillies fans should jump on those Lenny Dykstra tickets while still available). My experience was a brutal reminder that nothing is truly free in this world—even free tickets. The house always wins.