The Problem with Ticketmaster

I absolutely understand why there are service charges on tickets.  I get it, and I even support it.  People need to get paid for their work, and since musicians actually get so little of their album sales they take the lion share of the ticket sale, and the promoter, the venue, and the staff, and of course running a service like Ticketmaster isn’t free, so they need a cut to pay for running their service that lets you get the tickets.

The problem I have is that the presentation of the service fee blows.  They sneak up on you.  I go to the site, find my concert, see the ticket price is $23, pick my ticket amount, hit the “Find Tickets” button and then, WHAM!, now they are $32 each.  You know, I don’t mind the $9 service charges, I understand them, but it would have been nice to have seen, on the original price listing page, an all-inclusive price.  Even if it was shown as “$23 (+ $9 service fees)” or “$23 ($32 with service fees)” or just “$32”, something to let me know upfront what the total cost per ticket is going to be rather than slapping it on at the end.

This is ultimately why people dislike Ticketmaster.  It is not the service charges, it is the presentation of the service charges.  People just don’t respond well in any context when they are given a price, and then at a later point told the actual purchase price is more.  I mean, if you went to buy a car and the price tag said “$23,000”, but once you talk to the sales rep he explains that there are $9,000 in service fees, so to drive it off the lot you have to pay $32,000, you’d be a tad upset that the price tag didn’t tell you that upfront.  Or how about if you went to a restaurant and bought a steak dinner listed as $23 only to find out there is a $9 preparation fee. Sales tax is one thing, since its a relatively fixed amount, but seeing a service charge after you’ve seen the original price is another, especially with Ticketmaster service charges being as unpredictable as they are.  I’ve seen $100 tickets with a $9 charge, and I’ve also seen $9 tickets with a $15 charge (yes, the service charge was almost twice the price of the ticket).  There is nothing on the initial page that lets you know what your final price might be.

Anyway, that’s my gripe of the week.

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