The Avengers was an awesome, fantastic movie, but actually getting into see it was a chore and a pain, a chore and a pain made entirely possible by the fine–…well, the folks at Fandango.

Fandango is an Online Ticketing Service that basically allows you to buy Tickets for Movies online before you go. The folks at Fandango should already know this. I write this to remind them what the hell their job is, and just how bad they are at it.

April 26th, 9 days before the Premiere of Avengers, and 11 days before I was scheduled to go see the movie I booked five tickets online: four adults, one child for the 3:55pm Show on May 6th. It was an IMAX 3D showing, which is a little more expensive. We’d had a good experience at the AMC Century City a month before, so we decided to repeat the experience. I received a Confirmation Email, notifying me that they had charged me the $90 bucks for the tickets I requested. I received a confirmation number (deep in my bones, I knew something was going to go wrong). One would think that I had tickets to a movie, right?

Imagine my surprise when I arrive at the Automated ATM to pick up my Tickets that it did not recognize the Credit Card for the purchase (Yes, the same card listed on the Email). I went to Guest Services and hand them handle it…only they couldn’t. They couldn’t find the Tickets in their system either. So the Manager, Diane (an Empire Strikes Back fan, according to her I.D.) called Fandango, using my Confirmation Number and CONFIRMED I had bought tickets. I was given…are you ready for this? an AMC Form, handwritten by AMC that said I had tickets called an UNABLE TO RETRIEVE form. (Apparently, this happens often enough with that they have a FORM for it.) My party and I then went to take our seats.

Imagine our surprise when five other people came in claiming to have our seats, and with actual (non-hand-written tickets) in their hand. We went to settle this, but were told that they were the possessors of the seats and that there had been a terrible mistake on someone’s part.

Basically what had happened was this, Fandango took my money and their computers somehow FAILED to tell AMC that they had sold the seats, allowing someone else to snake the same seats from under me. The man who took my seats told me he had only bought his tickets a week ago.

Remember, I did NOTHING wrong. I made the purchase. I got the confirmation. The money was charged to me. Fandango and AMC did not hold up their end of the bargain, which was GIVING ME MY TICKETS and SEATS.

I thought it was particularly nervy on AMC’s part to offer me free passes to another movie. Right, like I would trust this theater…or any one of the AMC Theaters ever again after this. In the end, I got my money back, and free passes for another show…which I probably won’t be using, because again…trust broken. One of my friends insisted, and I think rightly so, on getting the money back to the popcorn and soda he bought waiting for a movie he expected to see, but didn’t. Two of us were able to stay for the 5:30 show, EFX 3D (not quite the same) for free. Three of our party, including the kid had to go because it was a school night.

AMC’s personnel handled this as well as they could have been expected to, but at the same time AMC (the Corporation) is not blameless in this. Apparently, AMC switched away from MovieTickets.com because similar incidents happened, A LOT. My issue with AMC is that they’re trying to half-ass the costs on this by shipping the work to another company. The reason this doesn’t happen at Arclight or The Landmark is that they handle online ticketing themselves. That’s why they’re getting my business from now on, and not AMC.

As for Fandango, all I can say is they failed at their central mission, which is helping people purchase Movie Tickets online. If you rely on Fandango for your purchasing needs in the future, you’re taking your night out into your own hands. Don’t trust ‘em. They will fail you at some point.