29 November 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Hassle

On Friday, 9 November, I excitedly purchased my advance tickets for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. While I've never been a huge fan of Fandango, I had previously purchased tickets from them for the Lord of the Rings blu-ray event two summers ago; since I had no issues then, I had no qualms about purchasing from them now, especially after seeing this promotional offer:

At first, I didn't think too much of it when I didn't receive the code within 24 hours as expected. Assuming that it was due to a high volume of buyers, I gave it three days before I contacted customer support.

The first e-mail response contained nothing at all. The auto-response was: "suggested solutions displayed," but there was nothing else in the e-mail. So I responded, telling them I had not actually received any solutions or information. I told them "I was hoping to either have the code for the free download of "The Adventure Begins" resent, or just be informed that the codes have all been sent out," to which someone named Jace responded:
"Unfortunately we do not have the information you are asking for. We cannot send the code for the free download on our system, the only information we have at this time is that because of the high number of people purchasing for this offer it is going to take a little longer than we had hoped to send out those codes.We are very sorry for the inconvenience or frustration this may cause. We are working hard to get this problem solved for you."
Okay, I thought. Perhaps it's still just really backed up. After all, I'm sure lots of people are taking advantage of this offer.

But by the 21st, I had grown impatient. So I sent another e-mail:
Good afternoon,
The issue has still not been resolved, and I am growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of help I have received. I pre-ordered my tickets for the Hobbit film on November 10th and have still not received the free download code for "The Adventure Begins." I previously inquired about the situation but did not receive any helpful information. I have used Fandango for ticket purchases on many occasions, and this is the first time I've ever run into a problem. If you are unable to provide me with any additional information, perhaps you could point me in the proper direction.
Thank you for your time, Britta
Now the response was:
Unfortunately because this is a third party promotion you must contact Itunes to receive your free download. I'm sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you and I hope this issue is solved for you as soon as possible.

Naturally, iTunes couldn't help me, either. So back to Fandango I went:
Good evening,
You will understand my confusion when the Fandango website clearly states that "Once you've purchased your tickets, you'll receive an e-mail from Fandango, within 24 hours, with the song download code." Additionally, the first e-mail I received, stating that "we cannot send the codes from our system," but that a high volume of purchases could result in it taking "longer than we had hoped to send out those codes" is very confusing. There is no mention anywhere on the Fandango site of iTunes being the ones sending out the code. 
Of course, I did not purchase the movie tickets solely for the download; however, I did choose to buy them from Fandango based on that offer. I have contacted iTunes, but so far they, too, are "unable to send the code." This promotion was very misleading and I still feel that the problem was not adequately resolved. I appreciate your efforts in this matter, but I am not completely satisfied, and therefore will likely take my business elsewhere in the future.
Best regards,
The long-expected response came on the 27th:
We are very sorry for the troubles this may of caused but we have found out what was going on with your download and you will be receiving your claim code within 24 hours.
I still wonder if "Jace" is even a real person. In any case, 24 hours went by with no code. In another half an hour, it will have been a full 48 hours since I was supposed to receive my code.

So I made a phone call. The man who answered – whose name I didn't catch, unfortunately – apologised up and down, but it sounded more condescending than sincere. I gave him my name and e-mail address (which he misspelled several times, prompting him to tell me there was no Fandango account in my name). We finally got that sorted out, and I explained my situation very politely. He asked where I had heard about the promotion, so I told him it was on Fandango's Hobbit page. He sounded confused or panicked, and said he would "check it out." The next thing I knew, we were disconnected.

I called back – this time, a woman answered. She seemed disinterested as I explained my situation. I explained that where the promotion ends tomorrow, 30 November, 21 days after I ordered my ticket, I wanted to ensure we got this resolved so I wouldn't wind up with the "sorry, the promotion ended" excuse.

"Yes, I can see that it's been just over 24 hours," she said. "There's nothing I can do for you at this time. The e-mail has been marked for corporate, so we are waiting to hear back from them. You should hear from them within 24 hours. Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

"You've helped enough today," I said, and suddenly she perked up as she wished me a good day.

You may wonder why I care so much about a download, especially when I can just buy the entire soundtrack in another week and a half. Usually I do let things slide, even when I am very obviously being misled or walked all over. If I had been told in the very first e-mail from "Jace" that they were out of codes, I would have just accepted my loss and waited until December 11 for the soundtrack. But as someone who has previously worked in retail, where "'I can't help you' is not an acceptable answer," Fandango's response left a bad taste in my mouth.

If I don't hear back by tomorrow, I'm going to speak with someone higher up.

In the meantime, you'll notice the promotional banner is no longer displayed on their Hobbit page.

* For the record, I don't normally like to complain about things, especially publicly, but this has been a frustrating ordeal. I haven't heard of anyone else having any issues getting their codes, but I have read a lot of negative complaints about Fandango in general from other customers. If nothing else, you might want to consider purchasing all future movie tickets from another website.*  

** One other thing: while I am not a user or fan of Apple products, I will praise their customer service team for being very kind and as helpful as possible. Fandango could learn a thing or two from them. **


  1. Obviously they don't have Dwarves in charge of this promotion otherwise it would go as smooth as clockwork. I suggest truly free musical downloads dedicated to Durin: http://minstrelsongs.com/track/song-of-durins-awakening-baruk-khaz-d-khaz-d-ai-m-nu

    1. What a fantastic song! I'm downloading it right now :) Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Did you just take a picture of your screen? Tell me that you didn't just take a picture of your screen...