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November 4, 2003 03:01 AM

Broken: Ticketmaster feature

Drew writes:'s "ticketFast" feature enables you to print your ticket after ordering. Great idea in concept, but they blew it by assessing a fee for this service. So - in addition to the $6.75 "convenience" charge per ticket, and the $3.05 "order" charge, Ticketmaster will allow me to pay an extra $2.50 for the privilege of using my own paper and ink to print a ticket?

No thanks, I'll let them incur the postage and will instead pocket the savings.


Ticketmaster also now allows for que jumping. Its no longer first come first serve. You can pay a premium price for tickets and get to go ahead of all the peons who wait for hours in line to see a concert. So now, all the fat old rich guys will be in the front row.

Posted by: Dan Devaney at November 6, 2003 07:44 AM

I am a former Ticketmaster employee. When I was with TM the TicketFast program was still in pilot stage.

I, too, was recently shocked that it cost $2.50 to have computer code generate a PDF file, but no extra charge for the company to have an agent print tickets, stuff two envelopes, and apply postage to one of them.

The company is attempting to move more sales to the Internet and this is how they encourage the least expensive method of fulfilling ticket requests? If anything, TicketFast should be free and Standard Mail delivery should be charged.

A couple other things about TM:

1. TM does NOT control the events. TM is only the delivery of the ticket and gets nothing from the face value of the ticket.

That's where the fees come in. The company's take is a PORTION of the fees (some goes back to the walk-up outlet, some goes to the venue -- and TM does not own either of these entities). Outlet computers, T1 lines, TM regional offices, employee salaries and such cost real money that's gotta come from somewhere.

This model is necessary because for every sold out show, another X shows are not sold out. Again, TM doesn't book the shows. Promoters do and they take the risk of the show not selling. Tm just delivers the access for their client (promoters and artists).

2. Fans standing in line for tickets in a first-come first-served fashion has been obsolete for quite a few years.

TM replaced this for two reasons. One, the stores with outlets were potentially liable should anything happen to a someone while in the line. Two, depending on the size of the line, the first 5 to 25 people were paid by scalpers/brokers (use your own term) to be there.

In example two, the peons in line weren't getting front row anyway. So TM put a random draw in place. Someone arriving one second before the last drawstub was given out could be first in line the same way someone who waited 12 hours could. Fair to everyone involved ... except to the scalpers.

When this happened, the scalpers began paying people inside the ticketing offices at the venues or even promoters to siphon off tickets in greater numbers. Guess what? The peon in line still aren't getting front row tickets this way.

Remember, TM is just the delivery agent -- the client (ie promoters and artists) determines which tickets are available. If they tell TM to not sell the first 10 rows, then TM doesn't sell the first 10 rows.

Of course, these first 10 rows fall into the hands of scalpers (usually) and are sold at a premium. Usually to "fat old rich guys."

See where I'm headed with this? The line jumping that Mr. Devaney described is TMs way of giving consumers the opportunity to access better seats at a price cheaper than the ones the brokers/scalpers charge.

Plus, unlike with brokers/scalpers, should a show be rescheduled or canceled or if you fall and break your hip the day before the show, TM can give you a full refund. Just try and get one of those from a broker/scalper.

3. More about the fees. TM is like UPS. We accept that it costs so much money for UPS to ship a package from to your door and that Amazon will -- in most cases -- pass that cost along to you. No one gripes about UPS charging their fee -- which has a profit margin -- to deliver your books.

Ticketmaster's model is exactly the same. Why is this so hard to understand?

*stepping off my soap box now*


Posted by: trebor at November 7, 2003 08:53 PM

Most everyone I know thinks Ticketmaster is evil because the price for letting us order tickets is so out of proportion to the actual cost of doing business. At least in paying to ship something results in a product being transported from one place to another. Ticketmaster feels like usury while Fedex seems like a good deal. Ticketmaster could post the "service charge" as part of the ticket price since the fees seem to be a set amount per unit. Posting the actual ticket cost -- what a concept!

Posted by: Shirley Vaughan at November 10, 2003 06:29 PM

And maybe the fact that they call it a "Convenience fee" and a "Venue Fee" (Didn't the band pay that? Why am I paying for the venue too?) is part of the problem.

Posted by: Paul at November 13, 2003 03:00 AM

"... the price for letting us order tickets is so out of proportion to the actual cost of doing business."

One would think. Not every show sells out ... not even close. Think of an arena show that has 10,000 tickets available to the public.

The costs for TM are the same whether it sells 1,000 tickets or 10,000 tickets (the T1 lines, computers, TM labor costs in building the ticket database, etc -- those costs are relatively fixed).

TM loses money on the 1,000 ticket show and makes money on the show that sells out. Remember, TM doesn't book the show. TM's client does so TM cannot determine which shows they'll ticket and which ones they won't -- they ticket it regardless.

And the fees that belong to TM are set on a sliding scale that is influenced by venue capacity, ticket price face value and sometimes by the promoter's and/or talent's requirements.

"... Ticketmaster could post the "service charge" as part of the ticket price since the fees seem to be a set amount per unit."

Also a reasonable idea. Legally, TM cannot do this. The ticket price is the ticket price and is set by the client. Some of the fees belong to TM. Others belong to the venue. They've gotta be separate and are labeled as such on the ticket.

One of the most frequent complaints that TM receives is that the advertising for the event doesn't show the fees. The ads, however, are placed and paid by the promoter, not by TM. The promoter has no interest in telling the public how much any of the fees are -- they have their own problems justifying a ticket price.

"... And maybe the fact that they call it a "Convenience fee" and a "Venue Fee" (Didn't the band pay that? Why am I paying for the venue too?) is part of the problem."

Yes. The nomenclature is a part of the problem. I think the largest part of the problem is that TM doesn't do much to overcome it's own bad image. It's gotten a little better, but not much.

No -- the band normally doesn't pay the venue. Which is why the venues began adding in a little for themselves in the ticketing. Plus, they keep the parking and concessions they host. (There might be some percentage take from merchandising sales, too.)

Again, the playing field is tilted decidedly in favor of the promoters and talent. In fact, the talent usually gets paid their full contracted amount whether they sell 1,000 tickets or 10,000 tickets.

Is any of this ideal? Or course not. Do I have a love affair with TM? I did mention I am a FORMER employee (and I'm not going back there any time soon). But I do believe that much of the public's anger is misdirected unfairly toward TM. At minimum, the assumption is that TM is nothing short of evil incarnte and that no one else has any influence in the industry.

For example, a recent major headliner show in a mid-market city had just 1/3 of the tickets available to the public through TM at a venue that seats about 15,000.

When tickets sold out in about 10 minutes, hundreds (if not thousands) of fans were unable to get seats. Many of these people were as close as eighth in line and they blamed TM.

TM had nothing to do with it.

The band stipulated that just 1/3 of the tickets would be available to the public, another 1/3 were to be available privately to the artist's fan club members, and the remaining 1/3 were for promotional use (promoters, media giveaways, label VIPs, etc).

Understandably, TM isn't going to tell you this, as it needs to protect its client relationships -- right, wrong or indifferent.

Posted by: trebor at November 17, 2003 02:34 PM

TicketMaster is on its way out soon uless it reinvents itself wich it might do. The prices are simply too high considering the technology involved. I run a similar srvice for several universities with a tenth of the overhead. Let me put it in terms everone can understand. I have 7 employees and the service charges that I have to pass on without funding from anyone else is $3.00 per event pass. All done on the Internet/Intranet. It wont be long. They are going to have competition soon. Give it less than 4 years and they will be scrambling.

Posted by: Scott at November 23, 2004 09:35 PM

ticketmaster allows SCALPERS to purchase their tickets and blocks out fans.

EVERY internet presale they've had for a show that has any kind of draw they have blocked everyone i know out from the exact moment the presale begins. But - and this is the amazing thing - that 5 minutes after the presale starts, you start seeing the tickets being scalped on EBAY for 3x the face value.

Why does that make ticketmaster evil and not just scalpers? Because they allow for this to happen. they don't care as long as they sell out, this way they get their money - and the scalpers get theirs. In fact, ticketmaster probably encourages this.

I also blame, Ebay to for allowing for this illegal act and greedy corporate-owned america for not having stricter laws in place.

yeah, the fat old rich guy and his loser son will get the tickets - just like how the loser son that runs the country got his job. America has gone to sh1t.

How do we stop this??? STOP BUYING TICKETS FROM SCALPERS. They'll stop selling if they don't get suckers to buy - and when people don't show up at events, the people behind those events will start to put pressure on ticketmaster.

If people weren't such suckers these days, if every joe schmo realized he had power that goes above and beyond the power of having money - these things wouldn't happen.

It's a good thing i like a lot of bands that the fat old rich guys and their loser sons don't even know about...their so trendy and dumb.

Posted by: j at March 4, 2005 04:19 PM

Scalpers are not discouraged by TM simply because TM is trying to sell every ticket possible to maximize profits. The talent discourages it because it wants their fans to have equal access to the tickets. I found the additional charge to use my own paper and ink ridiculous also so had them mailed. sorry but no one was complaining for shipping charges so the amazon example doesn't relate. I find that TM is not straight forward with all of its additional charges. Solution the promoters for the event should be charged a fee by TM depending on how many tickets they have to sell then the charge would be included into the price of the event that way TM makes their money whether the event sells out or not and the promoters get their investment back by doing their job which is promoting.

Lastly a little off post but it goes hand-in-hand with TM shady practices Pearl Jam was performing at a charitable event where they would make no money for performing so they asked TM who was making money on the event by charging for their service to donate just $1 of each ticket to the charity TM politely agreed then raised their service charge up a $1. This is what actually started the dispute with TM not the monopoly that they were accused of.

Posted by: Kent at May 6, 2005 01:00 AM

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