Monday, February 16, 2009

Paying The Fees

When Bruce Springsteen announced his 2009 world tour, I was excited as I always am whenever he announces a tour. I knew that tickets were being sold through Ticketmaster and that there were going to be some ugly fees showing up in addition to the price of my ticket. That didn’t sit well with me, but it hasn’t for years.

Ticketmaster’s argument is that buying tickets online is a convenience, and thus they can justify their “convenience” charge attached to each ticket purchased. Their claim is that the customer didn’t have to get up, drive to the box office, wait in line, and then buy tickets. The customer was able to do all of this from the comfort of their own home.

There is only one small problem to that argument. For the Bruce Springsteen concerts at the IZOD center in NJ, there was no option to buy the tickets at a box office. The only way tickets could be purchased was through That would mean that this was no longer a convenience, but the only option. Did Ticketmaster take away the convenience fees? Nope. The charges were still there.

An ad taken out in the Star Ledger (seriously, you need to advertise that Bruce is coming to town? The economy may be bad, but it’s not that bad) clearly states: “Tickets will not be sold at the IZOD center Box Office.” So how does one get tickets? Tickets were available via charge-by-phone (which incurs fees) or (which incurs fees). There was an option to go to and buy tickets, but guess which website it redirected to? That’s right! Ticketmaster!

Now, let’s look at the fees Cousin Ryo had to pay. For the ticket price of $65, here is the breakdown (all fees are per ticket):

Facility Charge - $3.00
This is a fee that the building charges to help them recoup some of the cost of promoting the show. Okay, this is a livable fee that anyone can handle.

Convenience Charge - $10.45
This is absolutely ridiculous! As I stated, there was no other way to purchase tickets! How is that a convenience? And to pay over $10 per ticket? That’s worse than credit card interest rates! It’s highway robbery! To quote the immortal John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!”

Delivery – No Charge
I chose Standard Mail, so there was no charge for me. However, if I chose to print the tickets myself (which would have cost Ticketmaster no money at all; mailing my tickets does) I would have to pay an additional charge of $3.00. How does this make sense? I’m just glad they haven’t started charging for mailing the tickets. Give them time, I’m sure they will.

Order Processing Fee - $4.00
This is the cost to process and ship the order, check that the credit card number is valid, and to make sure you get your tickets. I’m also okay with this fee. I don’t like it, but I understand it.
So let’s recap:

Ticket price: $65
Facility Charge: $3
Convenience Charge: $10.45
Order Processing Fee: $4.00
Total: $82.45
Total in Fees: $17.45

And we haven’t even touched parking yet. What can be done about this? Unfortunately it doesn’t look like anything, unless people stop going to concerts, and that only hurts the artist, not the ticket broker. I thought that Live Nation becoming their own ticket broker was going to help the situation, but now that they have merged with Ticketmaster, we are right back to square one. Once again, the fans get screwed while the corporate companies glom all the benefits.

What do you think? Do you mind paying the fees?

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