The Livingsocial offer that wasn’t social at all

James Steidl/Shutterstock
James Steidl/Shutterstock
Question: I’m looking for your help in resolving an issue with a deal I found on Livingsocial.com. Recently, it published an offer for the Indy 500, which had options for $39 general seating, or $150 a person VIP seating. I wanted to attend with a few friends, so we all signed up for the VIP seats.

Livingsocial has an offer where if you purchase a deal, and then get three friends to do so as well, then you get yours free. Now, we all wanted to sit together, but figured 4 for the price of 3 wasn’t bad; however, there was no information on the deal page about seating policies. So I emailed customer support (their phone lines were down after their recent password issues) to ask whether this was possible.

After several emails back and forth, a representative called me and said she didn’t see a problem in having us sit together, even though we bought the tickets separately, and would confirm. So we went ahead and bought the tickets. Which is when things started to go south.

Shortly after buying the deal, I received an email letting me know that they would not be able to guarantee that we would be able to sit together, as we bought tickets separately. That is something I can understand.

I asked whether they could try to seat us together, and that I would appreciate an assurance that they try to seat us together. I received a brusque email reply telling me that I can’t have my cake and eat it too, and that I could opt to sit together or save on the single deal, and I chose to save on single deal.

Now this was not the communication initially outlined, which irked me. However, I offered that they refund me my deal so that all four of us could pay the full price of the pass, but simply ensure we are seated together, because at that point, we would have paid the same as four people having bought the tickets together. I received a one-line email back saying that since more than 24 hours have passed from the time the deal was issued, they would not do a thing.

Since then I have tried to call, and sent emails, and have not gotten any replies — they always seem to be “getting back to me” on this.

I do not even mind paying the extra $150 to ensure we are seated together — we have not received seat assignments yet and there is a chance we can still end up seated together. However, if we are not, this would be a very expensive trip for a lot of us (as people are flying in for this) in which we would not be able to enjoy each other’s company and thus making this entire trip a complete waste of time. Can you help? — Akhil Kejriwal, Cleveland

Answer: The Indy 500 race is a social event, which is something a site that calls itself Living Social ought to understand. If a representative gave you assurances that you could sit together, then the company should have made every effort to do so rather than blowing you off with one-liner emails.

Livingsocial’s terms and conditions are hopelessly confusing. I can’t tell which rules applied to your event tickets, since there are several offer categories, each with similar-sounding names. But in reviewing all of the terms, it seems clear to me that the promise to sit together isn’t part of the terms. So you would have to take the Livingsocial representative at her word.

Promises made by a representative on the phone are all but meaningless. And to be honest, as I review your own recollection of the conversation, it didn’t really sound like much of a promise, but more of a pledge to try to seat you together. That’s not gonna cut it.

Instead of the endless back and forth by email, I might have sent your whole thread to someone higher up at Livingsocial. You can find the right names on its website. Email addresses at Livingsocial are [email protected]

I thought your request to refund the tickets and buy new ones at the full price wasn’t unreasonable. If Livingsocial had responded to you on time, then maybe the 24-hour window for refunds wouldn’t have closed.

I contacted Livingsocial on your behalf. The solution was really simple, and I’m surprised they didn’t tell you this by phone. Both the general admission and VIP lounge tickets for the Indy 500 are open seating, so they are first come, first served.

A representative called you and informed you about the seating policy. You also received $10 in Livingsocial vouchers to make up for the trouble.

Did Livingsocial offer Akhil Kejriwal enough compensation?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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