Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Ticketmaster: Master of nothing, king of fees

Posted in concerts, scam, scams, tickets by commorancy on February 16, 2009

If you’ve ever purchased tickets to a music concert, chances are you’ve had to deal with Ticketmaster.  You know, the ticket printing company that claims to help you obtain tickets to your favorite concert or event.  In reality, this company is nothing but one big scam.  Having sold tickets for Ticketmaster in the 80s, I’m well aware of their practices and how they choose to do business.

Scam or Scalper?

The only reason Ticketmaster exists is for convenience of the artists/promoters, not the concert goer.  If you’ve ever had to stand in line waiting for tickets at a venue, you can at least count the number of people ahead of you and know about what tickets you will receive.  Enter Ticketmaster with their near global presence.  Now, you stand in line at a Ticketmaster outlet and you have no idea how many other people are ahead of you or how many tickets they may purchase.  Combine this with Ticketmaster’s scam of holding back tickets for later release, random selection of tickets and you get the recipe for failure.  Even if you’re the first person in line at an outlet, you may walk away with upper promenade tickets simply because that’s ‘best available’.

Best Available

This notion is Ticketmaster’s way of searching their database and giving you whatever they deem is the ‘best available.  Note, however, that most outlets won’t let you specifically search or ask for tickets in other sections even if it doesn’t show to ‘Best Available’.  Yet, they may be available.  For example, I’ve specifically searched for seats in lower prom sections and found tickets there even when ‘Best Available’ shows to be upper prom.  So, whatever algorithm that Ticketmaster has written is completely flawed and doesn’t work (or is intentionally designed to NOT give you best available).

Released Tickets

Granted, some promotors do hold back sections of seats for their own use.  Some may be reserved for other purposes and some may be reserved for the venue to sell directly.  When these seats aren’t sold, given away or whatever, they are then released to Ticketmaster.  These seats (some front row seats) can appear even just hours before the event!  I have found front row seating for several events the day of the concert simply just poking around looking for tickets in Ticketmaster’s computer.    Granted, when you find them, you have to be willing to purchase them immediately because any of the other thousands of outlets could also be looking for them too.   For example, I had found front row seats for Neil Diamond (back during his heyday) and front row lower prom for Stevie Nicks (back in her heyday) within one or two days of the event.

Fees and more fees 

Ticketmaster now charges $12-$20 per ticket convenience charge.  Ticketmaster might as well be considered scalpers. In 1979, tickets to concerts COST $15.00.  The cost of Ticketmaster’s convenience charge is now close to or more than the event ticket cost in 1979!  For example, with Britney Spear’s 2009 tour tickets, why would you give Ticketmaster $18.75 for you to go to the web, search for ‘Best Available’ and then issue and print your  own tickets?  It doesn’t cost $18.75 to print two paper tickets and mail them.  The cost for that process is perhaps no more than $2.  $1 total for the ticket paper, ink and envelope and $1 for postage.  Ok, so there might be a small fee incurred in hand carrying the envlope to the post… So maybe $3.  Paying $18.75 for $3 worth of materials is outrageous.  If you choose to print your own tickets from your printer, they STILL charge you!  Yet, you paid for the paper and ink.

Online Ticketmaster

Now that Ticketmaster has moved to the web, their searching process has not changed.  But now, you have no control over what they find for you and you have no idea how many other people are out there doing the same thing.  They also do not give you the ability to actually search for tickets in specific seactions.  You take what they find for you even if they aren’t the best.  Worse, Ticketmaster still charges you the $18.75 convenience fee for you to do the work.  Other than their print and mail process, which is probably automated anyway, this fee is now completely outrageous and unnecessary.

No Ticketmaster concerts for me

Ticketmaster is part of the problem.  For the reasons above (price, fees, bad business practices), I do not trust Ticketmaster.  As a result of that lack of trust combined with outrageous ticket prices by the artists, I do not go to concerts.  When concerts cost no more than $20 to get in, I’m game.  When they get to $80, that’s when it’s no longer worth it.   After combining Ticketmaster’s outrageous and unnecessary fees with the cost of the event and the venue fees, I don’t understand why anyone continues to use Ticketmaster for purchase of tickets. You’re just paying to ensure Ticketmaster’s continued existence. Sure, it’s convenient, but it’s also a complete rip-off.  Insist on buying your tickets directly from the venue directly without the need for Ticketmaster.  If the venue sells you a ticket with a convenience fee, insist on not paying it as there is no such thing when you’re purchasing it directly from the venue.

Unless concert promoters wake-up realize that Ticketmaster is not the answer for selling tickets, they are likely excluding a lot of people, like myself, who would go to more events but simply will not use Ticketmaster, but still want a web based ticket purchase.  Promoters: Ticketmaster is not helping you fill the arena.

Competition is healthy

Visit your artist’s web sites and let them know that you don’t want to pay Ticketmaster’s gouging fees to obtain tickets to their event and encourage them to use other ticket distributors such as BandsInTown.  We desperately need competition in the ticket selling space to force Ticketmaster to rethink their outrageous fees.

Note that buying your tickets from a scalper is not the answer. nor is that competition.  Not only are you now paying Ticketmaster’s fees, you’re paying the scalper’s outrageous upcharge.  Again, scalpers are not competition to Ticketmaster, they are just there to mark up Ticketmaster’s already scalped prices.

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