THE DODD COLUMN: It all started with an internet search | Opinion


“Let us sing and dance; These two entertainments have no harm in the world.”

Voltaire

Scrooge is alive and well. The Grinch steals Christmas. The Nutcracker has been kidnapped and we are being held for ransom.

I know by now some of you are thinking, well, he finally lost it. It was a good run. I wish columnists could be retired and put out to pasture like old thoroughbreds. Well, some purebreds are retired to breed. Older columnists are viewed more as horsemen.

All I wanted was to enjoy a night at the ballet. I tell you something. If I looked as good as those ballet guys in leotards, I mean, those guys have no secrets! A secret from my past is that one year the parks and recreation department in Jeff offered free tap dance and ballet lessons. I was the only friend in an all-girls class, and that was during my goddamn middle school years. I wore sweatpants.

It all started with an Internet search. Usually, many of my problems start with an internet search. Any time I want to buy tickets to a sporting event, the theater, a concert, book a hotel room, or do almost anything else over the Internet, I’m an innocent (albeit somewhat ignorant and computer-simple) victim. I have to tell the story of being charged $400 for a hotel room I booked and never used. Even the voice in India couldn’t help me solve the problem.

A brief happy ending — after a year of fighting and sending a two-page registered letter to the CEO of Hilton Properties Worldwide with a return receipt requested — we now have a certificate for a free night at a Hilton hotel anywhere in the world. I have a healthy respect and fear for ordering anything over the computer.

It all started with one search entry – Nutcracker Suite tickets.

Several different sites emerged, all closely mimicking the Kentucky Center for the Arts, Whitney Hall, or the Louisville Ballet. Most of them don’t. They are ticket scammers and/or ticket scalpers.

I finally got the $40 tickets listed for $89 and they were going to sell out if I didn’t order. Some dates are flashing, there are no tickets for the dates I selected. Even after overpriced tickets are “purchased”, a small warning states that additional fees and service charges will be added. And all this time I’m not even on a legitimate site that’s supposed to sell tickets. I left the site.

Then I came across a Louisville Courier Journal article from 2019 and several other Internet warnings about Nutcracker scams. Seriously, a cultured guy like me (my closest theater friends call me “Butterfly”) can’t enjoy the beautiful art of ballet without crossing the landmines of scammers on the Internet. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy! Is there nothing more sacred?

And it’s not just ballet. I saw an opera in full costume. If you’ve ever been to a live opera, you know the extreme parameters of the human voice. You’ll know where the word never ends comes from when you know who’s singing it! I am so cultured that I once watched an entire foreign film with subtitles. I mean, the short nap in the theater couldn’t have lasted more than five minutes.

The Nutcracker articles I read said that some scam sites will even give you genuine looking tickets that won’t be accepted when you show up at the door. Fraudsters have your credit card information.

I almost gave up, but I called the Louisville Ballet Box Office at 502-583-2623. A very helpful young lady took my order and sent me a confirmation email. He said tickets will remain at Will Call for next Thursday’s 7:30 show. Otherwise, The Nutcracker will live up to its marquee billing!

I hope that will be the case when it comes to Will Call. How easy it is for well traveled guys like me to find these criminal and vile sites on the internet. Of course, the authorities can easily find them and fire them.

We talked to the lady on the phone about these shady sites. Legitimate businesses are just as vulnerable as the rest of us.

Here’s an idea. While Congress has spent years and tens of millions of dollars on Hunter Biden and January 6th, I think I found something worth investigating.

And if I wear them today, those sweatpants from my ballet days look more like tights. It will definitely keep me on my toes!



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