Thursday, June 19, 2008

School Of Rock:Mail Order And The Old Re-Dial Button:AKA: Didja Get Tickets ? Part 2

I will assume that you have all read Part 1 already, so let's move on.

So I told you about some of my adventures waiting in lines for the ever elusive concert ticket to the "Rock Show".
At some point, the waiting in line became sorta quaint. The new system was to call on the telephone, and order your tickets THAT way.
Wow, it was fun!! Dial the phone....Wait...Busy...Dial again...Wait...Busy...Dial again...Wait..."IT'S RINGING !! IT'S RINGING !!"...Nope, busy....And on and on...
A barrel of laughs...Unless you had a rotary phone. Remember those ?
That's right... No re-dial button. trying to get concert tickets with one of these babies was like some sort of Gitmo welcoming party for your index finger. And, of course it was an 800 number, so you had to dial 11 numbers EVERY time!!! Good times, good times.
We thankfully did not have a rotary phone, so we were able to just hit the re-dial button again and again and again and again and again and again..
This WAS before the overwhelming popularity of cellphones, though, so we did only have one line to call from at each house. Poor, poor pitiful us.(Thanks, Warren)
It did not have the camaraderie of waiting in line, but it was easier, and it seemed to be more successful as well. Overall, I think it was an improvement.

Now, there was a band that did things a little bit differently...The Good Old Grateful Dead, of course.
When we decided to try to see the Boys in concert, or "live" as the kids like to say,we learned of this thing called "mail order" for Grateful Dead tickets. The band set aside a certain number of tickets for every show, and you could mail in to request tickets. It apparently started in 1983, here's a link about the genesis of it.

It was very simple, let me see if I still remember the system.

First, you would call the Grateful Dead East Coast Hotline, and there would be a recording that would announce the tour dates, the dates for mail order, and the instructions for the mail order. Of course, you never knew EXACTLY when the announcements would go up, so you would have to call the number, and the beginning of the recording would say something along the lines of"This is a new message as of..." and there would be a date...If the date was new, you kept listening.
Then they would lay out the info: Venues, dates, whether there was taping at the shows. And then: The Rules:(I am doing this from memory,and it has been 14 years since I have ordered tickets, so be kind if I'm getting it wrong)

A number 10 size envelope

A 3x5 card with the venue the date and the number of tickets requested. With "anything" written on it if you are willing to accept any available tickets. I can't remember the specifics, but I think it mattered where on the card you included the info.

A postal or American Express money order made out to GDTS(Grateful Dead Ticket Sales)

A self-addressed number 10 sized envelope, with the appropriate postage for the number of tickets you have requested( I might be, as Roger Clemens said, "misremembering" the postage thing, but i don't think so)

Then there very explicit instructions on WHEN the order could be mailed. If they were postmarked before a certain day, they got returned.

I know that last bit first hand. I believe it was for the same Spring Tour shows for which we waited out in the snow for tickets(unsuccessfully). We listened to the recording, got our envelopes and index cards and filled them out. Bought our money order, put everything into the envelope, and got into line at the post office at around 4:45 p.m. on the day BEFORE the first day that the orders could be postmarked. We paid for the postage, and asked the clerk if he was SURE that this letter would not get postmarked until the next day. he pointed to the clock, indicated that it was almost five o'clock(it was about 4:55 by then) and said that there was no way that the envelope would be postmarked that same day.

Well, he was wrong(or he was a dick and he lied). A few weeks later, we got the whole order pack, and the postmark was circled !!One day EARLY!!!! AAARGH !!!!

Amazingly, that was not the only time that the post office screwed me(gave me the old "Joan Collins special") on my GDTS order. When I was a freshman in college, I was trying to get tickets to the Spring Tour(again with the spring tour-what is it with the spring tour and postal ineptitude ?) and I bought a money order at the POST OFFICE, which one would assume is a POSTAL money order. well, apparently not at this branch in West Lafayette, Indiana. For I got that order back, with a little piece of paper indicating why it was returned- WRONG MONEY ORDER !!! AAARGH !!!

But, I must say, other than those two instances, I had 7 pretty good years with the GDTS mail order system.

Nowadays, of course, you can buy tickets on the Tubes, and bands have fan clubs(for PREMIUM tickets) and such. I still kinda miss waiting in line.

Next Time: Epilogue:Scalpers and Miracles:AKA Didja get Tickets ? Part 3

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