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Ticketmaster’s Inaugural Screwup

Updated: 1:56 p.m. | The presidential inaugural season is upon us.

Cue general anxiety, hysteria about receiving party invitations, getting tickets to balls, venturing out into the cold and on and on and on. The good news: Bars in the District will be serving into the wee hours of the night. The bad news: Ticketmaster screwed up and many people who were hoping to go to official events sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, such as the official ball or parade, are out of luck.

The tickets were for the public, which means that even some PIC staffers couldn’t get tickets to some of the events they have been planning.

Here’s what happened: On Sunday about 3:30 p.m., the PIC sent an email to those who had signed up on the PIC website for more information about PIC events.


At 7:24 p.m., Ticketmaster sent out an email to people who had previously signed up online:

“The Presidential Inaugural Committee is pleased to offer you the opportunity to attend the Inaugural festivities. This email contains the information you’ll need to join us here in Washington, DC for the official Inaugural events,” the email promised. “This email contains specific information for your access to Inaugural tickets.”

In seconds, the Ticketmaster servers froze and the events were sold out. Just after midnight, Ticketmaster sent out another email:

“During testing of our email system tonight, you may have inadvertently received an invitation to purchase tickets for 2013 Inauguration events, including the Inaugural Ball or the Inaugural Parade,” the company wrote. “Public tickets to these events were originally scheduled to go on sale tomorrow [Monday] morning — you received the email tonight in error, and Ticketmaster takes responsibility for this mistake.

“However, a significant number of public tickets were purchased this evening, despite the early email,” the company continued. “Ticketmaster will be in touch with any additional information.”


Even though Ticketmaster has taken responsibility for the screwup, the company decided to honor all tickets that were sold Sunday.

In other words, if you were waiting for Monday’s email, too bad.

Much to the chagrin of staffers and Americans across this great land, official PIC events are now sold out.

Ticketmaster got back to us eventually, and said in a statement that “While an e-mail indicating that Inaugural event tickets were available was sent earlier than planned, tickets to Inaugural events were sold per usual Ticketmaster process on a first come first serve basis. Everyone who purchased tickets for the Inaugural Ball and the Inaugural parade will receive their tickets.

“We understand the disappointment people feel if they were unable to obtain tickets, but like all other popular events, demand was much greater than supply. Ticketmaster and PIC will continue to work closely to ensure everyone receives the latest ticketing information.”