About a month ago, I went to see the Summerland 2013 tour (Everclear/Live/Filter/Sponge), which I had a blast at. I’d been wanting to see Everclear for 18 years, and just had never had it work out, so I decided to treat myself and get the VIP experience. While I am working on a post about that experience, this post is about the company that tried to ruin that experience…
As part of the VIP package, that was coordinated by ground(ctrl), was a backstage meet-and-greet and acoustic session with Everclear. I simply couldn’t miss on the chance to meet one of my favorite musicians and songwriters, Art Alexakis. The day before the show, I finally got the details about the VIP event. This should have been a red flag, since I would have expected it much earlier so that I would be able to plan accordingly, but I shrugged it off. The e-mail said to meet up with their representative at 6:30pm to be taken backstage to meet the band.
My wife and I showed up at 6:25pm at the designated gate with our ID’s in hand (as requested). While I would have loved to be there earlier, it was a Wednesday, and we both had to work, so we hustled to make sure we were on-time. We’re asking around, and there’s no representative to be found. After a few minutes, a security member at Stage AE figures out where the rest of the group is (aparrently because we were “late”…and it was just after 6:30pm at this point) and takes us back to meet Art and the rest of Everclear, who tell us it’s a shame we missed the acoustic performances. While I was disappointed, I did get just enough time to meet the entire band, get their autographs and some pictures, and rocked out to an awesome show (like I said, details to come).
However, I was still annoyed that I was given inaccurate information about the event, so I contacted ground(ctrl) the next day to figure out what happened. I spelled things out for Graham, who took my call. He seemed sympathetic, and said he’d forward my complaint to their VIP events group to see what they could do, and hopefully they’d contact me early the next week.
Well, they didn’t. Instead, they took until today (7/17/2013…4 weeks after the concert) to finally get back to me:
This message is a follow-up to your phone call to ground(ctrl) support. Per our conversation, you were unable to check into your VIP event due to the event taking place before the scheduled time.
Our VIP department has investigated this issue, and they on site VIP staff has assured us that the check in for this event took place as stated in the VIP email: In front of the Stage AE box office at 6:30pm. After reviewing our conversation, it seems that you may have been provided with inaccurate information by the box office attendant at the venue. Due to the number of VIP events that may be taking place at each concert, the box office attendants may not be provided with all VIP event details. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer a refund or compensation for this missed event.
We sincerely apologize that we are unable to assist you further with this request and are sorry for any inconvenience this incident has caused. Please see out Ticekting/VIP policy for more details:
So, when I read this response, I was livid. Clearly I was being blown off because they couldn’t send me the right time for the event, and that was my fault. In addition, shortly after their response, they sent me event details for the Summerland stop in Danbury, CT on 7/19 (exactly one month after the show I attended), which helps to show how disorganized they are. I have since responded to their support staff, fairly politely considering how frustrated I was at their response, and copied half of the managers at Stage AE:
Clearly you have received faulty information or your associates are merely covering their own butts. I assume that the timeliness of your response (it’s been a full month since I initially called your support line), that you’ve decided to blow off the issue I politely brought up to you despite not receiving the experience I had paid for, mostly in hopes of preventing others from having the same problems in the future.
We were at the front gate of the venue (Stage AE in Pittsburgh) prior to 6:30pm on 6/19, and the venue staff managed to find where the group had been taken within 5 minutes of our arrival. At that time, the acoustic session and most of the meet and greet had been completed. I’m very skeptical that all this had been completed in 5 minutes, as you appear to be claiming. In fact, the staff at StageAE went out of their way to be helpful and get us where we needed to be to at least have met the band briefly.
In conversations with other attendees, we were told that they had been taken back around 6:10pm, and the venue staff told us that this was a regular problem with similar VIP packages.
Then, today, your company further demonstrated its incompetence by sending me a reminder for another event on the same tour (a VIP meet-and-greet with Everclear on 7/19 at Ives Concert Park in Danbury, CT, which I did not only NOT purchase tickets for, but am a roughly 10 hour drive from). I’m not sure who was supposed to receive that e-mail, but I hope you get it to them so they don’t miss out too.
You can go ahead and place the blame on the venue (because it’s just easier to pass the buck, right?), but with this lazy response and subsequent errors, I will be sure to avoid doing business with your company in the future, and warn friends and family about your “services”.
I will also be CCing Stage AE staff with this response.
Good day to you.
– Greg Nilsen
So, the short version of this is to avoid ground(ctrl) events if at all possible (and if you have to, show up at least an hour before they tell you to avoid missing the good stuff). It appears to be a fairly haphazard operation that is happy to take your money and run. And for any musicians who may read this, please avoid giving any more business to this company, because they clearly can’t handle it and will only disappoint your fans. Unfortunately, this will always be a tarnish on what was, otherwise, an incredible experience.