It’s been a while since I bought anything online from Ticketmaster, mostly because I stopped going to big concerts. I prefer the smaller venues with indie bands, where you can actually see what’s happening on stage. However, on this occasion a very favorite band of mine, Mute Math, is coming to Houston and since the show will probably sell out I have to pre-buy them online. As is typical, Ticketmaster has a contract to be the sole distributor of ticket pre-sales.
Upon entering the site and finding the particular event I saw that The “General Admission” ticket price was set at $15 a piece. Of course, I was fine with that. I selected that I wanted (2) tickets and proceeded to checkout. I assumed there would be some type of service fee attached – afterall, Ticketmaster has to get paid – but I was surprised to find that the “convenience charge” was more than one third of the ticket price at $5.50 a piece! I immediately begin to wonder who decided that this was so convenient? And what exactly am I paying for? I could understand a couple of bucks, but this was just rediculous. So at that point I decided to find another way and not give them the benefit of the stupid “convenience charge”.
There are several other places through which Ticketmaster operates, and I intended on visiting one of them. I was just a couple of hours from doing so when my brother called to let me know he’d already gotten his ticket, and the charge is still applied even if you buy in person. At this point I begin to weigh the costs. I want to support the band, and my girlfriend wants to go just as bad as I do, but what voice do I have if I just give in to their game? I decided it just wasn’t worth suffering for and went back to Ticketmaster.com to pay for our tickets and the extra $11.00 in “convenience charges”.
I got back to the place I had last jumped off at and went ahead with my order. I was already irritated and tired of how they are using their monopoly over ticket sales to screw people over, so it’s not that surprising how I reacted to the next page. Apparently, in order for them to process you order they want to add a “processing charge” of $5.30. Now, being someone who works for a web design/development company I know what is involved with this so called process. When you click the submission button the website transfers money from your account, then adds your name to a list on the server. You print our your own ticket at your expense, and the venue prints out the list at theirs. It’s likely that Ticketmaster is charged a small fee for accessing my bank account, but it’s nowhere near $5.30!
After the added taxes of 92 cents (that’s for the convenience charge of course) the total, for what should’ve originally cost $30, is now up to $47.22 – it’s gone up $17! That’s more than the cost of a third ticket!!! Or in other words, 37% of my total cost is on fees and surcharges.
Now, this is nothing new. They’ve been ripping people off like this for years. Back in the 90’s, Pearl Jam – one of the biggest rock artists of the decade – tried to take Ticketmaster to court over a law suit claiming that they were using their monopoly to drive ticket prices sky high, and the only choice was to pay up or don’t see the concert. In the end, Pearl Jam lost the suit and Ticketmaster has retained their lordship over the industry. But the 90’s didn’t have the web-base that we have today. Thanks to “Web 2.0” formatted sites, average internet users are getting the power back in their hands and making a difference. Ticketmaster has seen a major drop in concert ticket sales in the last couple of years, and the odds are beginning to stack against them.
In 2005, Major League Baseball acquired Tickets.com, a major step toward breaking up the hold that Ticketmaster has had over the sporting industry. However, most people tend to use Ticketmaster anyway becuase it’s what they’re used to.
I’ve sent Ticketmaster an email (http://www.ticketmaster.com/h/customer_serve.html) telling them that I will no longer be using their services, and I think everyone should do the same, but words are nothing without action. I ask everyone who reads this to make a conscious effort to purchase tickets through other sources when possible, and in some cases avoid going to concerts and venues that sell exlusively through Ticketmaster. Make sure you let the venues and promoters know that you are dissatisfied with the way Ticketmaster handles their customers and you refuse to support it. You have to let your voice be heard.
We ALL need to let our voices be heard.