I had been looking forward to the convention for over a month. I bought my ticket ($25.00) on line last week. So today I made sure my camera was charged, and fortified with a healthy sandwich and some V8, I set out for the Javits Center. Typical of a lot of big cities, our convention center isn't exactly conveniently located. It's all the way on the extreme west side, on the river to be exact in the upper 30's. I live in the east teens. I could have taken a crosstown bus to lighten the walk but the sun was out and it was a relatively temperate day. So I walked it, arriving at the Convention Center around 3:30. The exhibit was scheduled until 7 so I figured 3 1/2 hours was plenty of time to wander around and see things. There were people milling about everywhere and it was hard to dope out where the entrance was exactly. Staircases were blocked with garbage cans and caution tape, escalators were turned off and nobody seemed to be going in anywhere. After 15 minutes of wandering I finally discovered the check in desk. Curiously, it was unmanned. I spotted a tiny woman with a ComicCon Staff shirt but from what I observed, she didn't appear to have much in the way of helpful information. Finally, after exhausting myself of other options I broke down and asked her where I could scan my ticket and get a badge. It was then she meekly informed me that nobody was being admitted to the convention. It was too full.
"You can't get in even if you bought a ticket?"
"No. They're not letting people in."
I happened to glance over at a piece of paper another disappointed attendee was holding. I spotted "Refund Information".
"Are they giving refunds to ticket holders?"
It was only then that she handed me a piece of paper of my own with the information. If I hadn't asked, it seems that they weren't volunteering how to get a refund. Worse, the refund information actually states that refunds are not guaranteed. And on top of that, if you got a refund it wouldn't be until the end of APRIL!
I hung about for a few minutes. A father and his friend and two little boys were just turned away as well, but told that "maybe" more people would be let in "later".
Now I can totally see if the turn out was big enough to stop selling any new tickets. But what fucking genius decided it would be OK or fair to turn away people that already paid for them? Or not offer to honor the tickets tomorrow? It was beyond lame. I got stopped by a reporter from the New York Post.
"I understand this has turned into a cluster fuck"
"Yeah you could say that."
"Can I ask you some questions?"
So I gave an interview where I expressed how disappointed I was and how I don't understand how you sell someone a ticket but then turn around and not honor the ticket you sell. Also, nowhere on the ComicCon page or when paying for my ticket was there any kind of disclaimer that your ticket may not get you in to the venue. I then responded that I would not try and come back tomorrow and further, I doubt I would come back ever, even though they're talking about doing this every year.
There was nothing to do but head home, but instead I took a side trip to Midtown Comics, just to see if there was any buzz there about the fiasco. The whole time I was there, the manager or some such head guy was on the phone answering angry calls from people who bought tickets through them. They were obviously sympathetic and a little embarrassed. I overheard him addressing the outrageous late April refund nonsense. You didn't hear it from me, but they were planning possibly to issue refunds themselves, as they hadn't sent all the ticket money in yet and then shorting the lame-ass event planning company, Reed Exhibitions.
ComicCon totally sucked. If you have tickets for tomorrow, get there early.
UPDATE: The Post ran the story about what a cluster fuck there was at the ComicCon. I was not quoted, but the guy who drove three hours from Hartford into New York, paid $40.00 for parking and then walked into the convention with his pre-paid, pre-registered ticket only to be turned away and not admitted, was. So I take a little comfort in that guy's misery. Reportedly, the lame-ass event planning company, Reed Exhibitions, feels just awful. Stupid fucks.