Ticket Masters of the Universe

Posted: October 10, 2010 in Culture, TV & Movies
Tags: , , , , ,

Visiting Ticketmaster.com recently, I began the process of purchasing two tickets for the Lebowski Fest, a celebration of all things related to The Big Lebowski. Little did I know, however, by the end of this seemingly simple effort I’d find myself feeling extremely un-Dude.

Advance ticket prices for the two day event were advertised at $20 and $25 respectively; a relatively hefty investment for a movie, bowling, and what have you. Nevertheless, it’s Lebowski Fest so I could hardly complain. Knowing Ticketmaster’s reputation for fees – partially thanks to a boycott by Pearl Jam in the 1990s – I did, out of principle, at first make an attempt to purchase the tickets elsewhere, but that only resulted in more frustration (like talking to Larry about his homework) at the local outlet:

Me: What is your fee on these tickets?

Agent: (Pointing at the computer screen) The tickets are $19.99 each, and the convenience charge is $9.60 and the facility fee is $1.

Me: Is that $10.60 per ticket?

Agent: (Again pointing at the screen) The tickets are $19.99 each, and the convenience charge is…

Me: Yes, I get that. But it doesn’t specify if the fee is per ticket or if it’s the total fee for both tickets. All I want to know is if I’d be charged $10.60 total in fees or $10.60 per ticket, like $21.20.

Agent: The tickets are $19.99…

Me: Okay. I’m leaving now.

With my options limited and the Fest dates rapidly approaching, I decided to bite the bullet and buy from the evil Ticketmaster.

  • Convenience Charge (for their convenience, not mine) = $8.60 PER TICKET
  • Facility Charge = $1.00 PER TICKET
  • Tax = $0.43 PER TICKET

Only slightly cheaper than the outlet, yet I’d still be spending potentially $10 more than the advertised price and that doesn’t even take tickets for day two of festivities into consideration, not a mind food and a souvenir t-shirt. But wait! There’s more!

Outrageous shipping charges are also available, if you don’t select “Will Call,” including $2.50 for the privileged of printing them yourself at home. (Apparently this charge covers the cost of sending you an email, which we all know is more expense than a postage stamp.) Then, once you’ve entered your credit card info and billing address, Ticketmaster tacks on ANOTHER “Order Processing Fee” of $5.94 as an afterthought.

So when all is said and done, a $19 ticket will cost you $32 at Ticketmaster. That’s roughly a 60% mark up.

Needless to say, after being asked to pay a facility charge, and a convenience charge, AND taxes on top of the advertised $19 price, the additional $5.94 inexplicably snuck in at the last minute was the final straw. I’d rather take my chances at the venue on the day than pay $13 in fees to a – in the preferred nomenclature – soulless corporation running as a monopoly.

 

Options.

 

Because Lebowski Fest, which began in 2002, doesn’t have the multimillion dollar marketing machine of, say a Justin Bieber, my chances of scoring tickets outside Ticketmaster were limited to begin with. However, for the bigger concerts and sporting events, there are far more ways to circumvent excessive fees.

Go to the venue – You can’t avoid all fees, but you’ll at least be able to elude the dreaded “convenience charge” by purchasing your tickets in advance or on the day directly from the venue.

Win tickets – Contact local radio stations to inquire about contests and giveaways for upcoming events. I won two tickets to my first concert this way. It cost quite a bit in stamps for all the individual postal entries, but it still cost less than buying two tickets at Ticketmaster.

Craigslist or Ebay – While you must be wary of scalpers and counterfeit tickets, this may be your best option to not only avoid Ticketmaster fees, but also find reasonably priced tickets to sold out events.

Outside giving Ticketmaster CEO, Irving Azoff, a bath with an amphibious rodent, what can be done to stop Ticketmaster’s fleecing of the general public? Is there any hope of defeating them when even the patrons of grunge-o-licious virtue, Pearl Jam, yielded to their former archenemy in 1998?

Unfortunately no. It’s all about supply and demand. As long as the average citizen doesn’t mind paying their fees (or continues to do so begrudgingly), Ticketmaster will remain the masters of the ticket universe.

As for me, I do mind, this loyal Big Lebowski fan minds. A $13 add on is just offensive and I refuse to reward their abuse of power. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man. And until there’s a major revolt, or promoters start disclosing ALL additional fees in the advertised price, you wanna know what the sum total of my money Ticketmaster will see?

Mark it zero.

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Comments
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  2. Blake says:

    Wow. 60%? I had no idea it was so steep. On the face of it, that sounds rather excessive.

    • natinanorton says:

      Excessive indeed.

      As I said in my post, I’m sure Ticketmaster can justify the fees by citing overheads (rent, gas/electricity, wages etc). Every business must take such matters into account. However, because these charges are not included in the advertised price of the ticket, the customer can’t help but feel ripped off. And that not only makes Ticketmaster look bad, but the promoters as well. It’s a prime example of the bait-and-switch.

      Natina

  3. Bob says:

    It’s criminal what ticketmaster wants to charge for tickets. The so called convenience fee, what the hell. Is it more convenient for me to drive out and pick up my tickets, have them mailed to my home or print them out. It really dosen’t seem to matter because they are going to nail me with the same charge regardless.

    The only thing that is different here in Manitoba than Washington State is that now the total price of the ticket is advertised not the before tax and fee price. So at least you know what you’re getting into. I think due to consumer outcry they passed a statute here recently.

    All I know that is since our local ticket agents went out of business a decade or so ago, ticket prices have gone through the roof.

    • natinanorton says:

      Another reason why life is better in Canada, eh? 🙂

      Ticket prices are ridiculous these day. In fact, it’ll costs ya anywhere from $40 for Monster Truck Jam to nearly $300 for U2; and God forbid if you need parking and food when you get there.

      There’s an argument to be made here for inflation, the free market (which should’ve been the fate of all the banks and car makers rather than government intervention) and Ticketmaster’s need to get their piece of the pie for providing a service. I get that. However, when a company is working as a monopoly, they’re open to manipulating the pricing and services they provide to their own advantage. That’s what the anti-trust law is for.

      As Herbert Hoover (American President, 1874-1964) once said, “Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress.” Look at any company today working as a monopoly and you’re likely to see inferior products and services, poor treatment or compensation of employees, stunted innovation, and inflated prices e.g. Microsoft (see Vista), World Wrestling “Entertainment” (WWE), and even the Republican and Democratic Parties to a degree.

      Competition breeds choice and feeds progress. Without it, consumerism is dead.

      Natina

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