U2 Fans Riled Up Over Fan Club Pre-Sale

The huge demand and system glitches that marked Tuesday's (Jan. 25) pre-sale for U2's Vertigo tour left hundreds of fans with less than desirable seats or no seats at all, but tour organizers say thei

The huge demand and system glitches that marked Tuesday's (Jan. 25) pre-sale for U2's Vertigo tour left hundreds of fans with less than desirable seats or no seats at all, but tour organizers say their goal is to satisfy all fan club members, or at least as many as possible.

Disgruntled fans who paid $40 for a chance to purchase choice tickets prior to the general public have made their feelings known in postings at U2's official Web site and elsewhere, including a slew of e-mails to Billboard.com.

Referring to the on-sale issues as "Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday," one fan wrote, "What's the point of spending $40 for the membership of the site and getting a lousy seat for more than $165?"

In Europe, where problems seem to have been much worse, a U.K. fan writes, "I, like many thousands of fans, have gone through this presale in the expectation that we will get tickets for the venue of our choice. What we have got is complete ineptitude, incompetence and disregard of U2 fans by U2's management, the Web site, Ticketmaster and dare I say U2 themselves."

But U2 worldwide promoter Arthur Fogel, president of tour promoter TNA International, says the snafus and disappointed customers are systematic of an incredibly hot tour.

"These fan club pre-sales go on all the time, but they're usually under the radar," Fogel tells Billboard.com. "This one is beyond belief. There's no question there have been some technical glitches and some dissatisfied people, but the reality is people are working as best as possible to sort it all out. And I'm sure they will, eventually."

Clearly, ticket brokers or "scalpers," considered a bane to the touring industry by most, are contributing to the problem. "The reality is, there's nothing to stop a broker from joining a fan club and being part of a pre-sale," says Fogel. "But the whole notion of a fan club is rewarding hardcore, loyal fans."

Dealing with brokers on hot tours is a "chess match," Fogel points out, and a tour like Vertigo is the Super Bowl to a scalper. "As a broker, you spend every day of your life trying to figure out how to beat the system," he says.

And often, Fogel adds, even a public on-sale faces technical issues. "Sometimes you go up on sale and the system fries because of demand."

Fogel says band, management and promoter are working to sell tickets. "Ultimately, it's our job to fulfill the mandate of the fan club, and to make sure the general public also has access to tickets," he offers.

As U2 tickets begin going on sale to the general public tomorrow in Europe and on Saturday in the U.S., all involved hope the system can handle the load. "There is no question the demand, both here and in Europe, is as high as I've ever seen, and with that comes difficulties in managing that kind of volume," Fogel says.

"I know this: one thing about U2 and the U2 organization, whom I've worked with since 1980 -- they will do whatever they can to make sure people are taken care of," he concludes.