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Commentary: Ticketmaster should be more upfront about its additional fees

Courtesy of MCT

You head to your favorite online ticketing venue and find your favorite band is selling tickets for only $15. You know the drill.

First click: “Find tickets.”

Next page, you type in the illegible security check and prove you are indeed a human.

Then the timer appears in the bottom, right-hand corner reminding you how fast you need to type in your information.

Next click: “Submit order.”

But what’s this? You see your subtotal shoot up $5 for a convenience charge and you’re not even at the end of your order yet. Then you have to choose from different delivery options, and the recommended one TicketFast® NOW costs an additional $2.50 just to print the tickets at home.

Click.

At this point you expect the subtotal to read a little more than $20, but right at the end a $5 processing fee is tagged on and the total comes to $27.50, almost double the initial ticket cost.

This, while not a rare occurrence, was my ticket purchasing experience for Neon Trees in May. Now it’s not my favorite band in the world, but I do enjoy its music and my day was crushed when I saw that subtotal.

I had been looking forward to doing something all week because homework got the best of me. I was relying on the concert for a night to unwind. Thanks to Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc., it ruled out my hopes of dancing to some catchy beats with my best friend.

I decided to call Ticketmaster in search of some answers for the outrageous ticket fees that dampened my plans. After speaking with a representative, I was instructed to email Ticketmaster’s Charleston, W.Va., office.

With no email provided on the help page of Ticketmaster’s website, I had to fill out the online “Email us” form to submit my questions.

Once I clicked “Submit,” I was sent a list of FAQs that were already listed on the help page. Maybe my answer could have been listed, but I didn’t want an automated answer.

After fiddling with it the form again, I found a loophole and clicked a completely random subject line which resent my concerns.

Waiting for a human response, I looked deeper into Ticketmaster’s help page.

Its description of a convenience charge read that it’s a “fee (that) covers costs that allow Ticketmaster to provide the widest range of available tickets while giving you multiple ways to purchase.”

The help page also provided details about the order processing fee. “This charge includes services, such as taking and maintaining your order on our ticketing systems, arranging for shipping and/or coordinating with the box office will call,” the help page read.

I received a reply to my email the next day from Jessica_ZYS636 in which she merely copy and pasted the dreaded FAQ answers into her response.

Well thank you Jesscia_ZYS636 (if that is really your real name). I didn’t know how to find those answers without your help.

I checked the help page again in search of some answers and found Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard addressed the fee issue in a Feb. 22 post. “We’ll try to do a better job in this space over the coming months of helping you understand our business, and how our fees compare to others in the industry (both in ticketing and ecommerce in general). But the reality of the live entertainment business is that service fees have become an extension of the ticket price,” he wrote.

Way to give your condolences Nathan, but fans aren’t the only ones getting upset anymore. It’s bands too. In a New York Times article published May 15 fans and friends of the band The String Cheese Incident bought $20,000 worth of tickets and resold them on the band’s website. This was done to prevent people from paying more than the original $49.95 ticket price the band was selling the tickets for.

I understand fees are needed to pay for venues and other services, but I don’t understand why the middleman such as Ticketmaster can’t be more upfront with such charges. Maybe more bands should follow the suit of The String Cheese Incident to call more attention to the issue.

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