Iowan seeks refund of $800 from reseller on Civic Center 'White Christmas' tickets
Before you go shopping for the holidays, follow these three tips to avoid gift card scams. USA TODAY
TO READERS: This article and headline have been updated because multiple references to seat locations at the Civic Center in Des Moines were incorrect.
Jerry Hoffman of Urbandale planned to enjoy his Thursday night seeing "White Christmas" live at the Des Moines Civic Center.
However, his night would turn upside down when he learned the $805.99 he'd spent for tickets for himself, his wife, and her friend — over $260 a seat — would, in fact, seat them in Row Z.
Hoffman, 80, got the tickets through the resale service Secure Box Office, he said.
His tickets were scanned at the door and the group was admitted. But he didn't pay attention to the seating until he got inside the theater.
"We were so far away from the stage," Hoffman said. He'd wanted some of the best seats in the house because of his trouble hearing. In Row Z, it was harder to hear or see.
He asked those around him how much they paid for their tickets, and several guests said "$40."
Hoffman called the Civic Center on Friday morning. He said the people there told him they'd had several issues with guests ordering from other ticket sites.
Even if the group had been admitted near the stage, the top single ticket price listed on the Des Moines Performing Arts website is $155.
Hoffman ordered his tickets for "White Christmas" in April and received them via mail. "I didn't pay attention to the seats specifically, I just took their word for it," he admitted. As a fan of musicals and plays, Hoffman was deeply disappointed.
Hoffman said he was seeking a full refund from Secure Box Office.
A customer service representative for Secure Box Office said it couldn't respond to any questions from the Register, citing security.
"We try to discourage people from ordering from other sites," said Cathy Long, the publicist for Des Moines Perforrming Arts, which encourages patrons to buy at desmoinesperformingarts.org.
Jonathan Brendemuehl, Des Moines Performing Arts communications manager, said in a statement that "the only way to guarantee that you are purchasing legitimate tickets to a performance at the Civic Center, Temple Theater or Stoner Theater is to purchase the tickets directly from Des Moines Performing Arts by going to DMPA.org, visiting the Civic Center Ticket Office or calling 515-246-2300.
"DMPA cannot guarantee the authenticity of tickets purchased from any other source."
For more safe ticket buying guidelines, head to DMPA.org.
Sierra Porter covers entertainment for the Des Moines Register. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.