Hate Ticket Fees? You're Not The Only One!
Fee Free Friday has returned chock full of angry consumers, news reports and radio broadcasts about the controversy surrounding ticket fees. This week includes some very bad news for high ticket fee-charging venues in Madison Wisconsin. Even worse news for ticketing software companies in Baltimore Maryland. Plus The Consumerist asks the public which is the worst company in America. All that and an especially brutal weekly Wall of Woe!
Mad in Madison
The past week has seen the sharpest rise in hostility towards unreasonable per-tickets fees since Fee Free Friday began. Starting with a lengthy article published in The Capital Times titled ‘Would you like a ticket with those fees?’
Written by Andy Downing, the article takes the ticket-buying public’s pulse in Madison Wisconsin and conveys just how unhappy they are:
Convenience fees, shipping fees, print-at-home fees, building surcharges and various taxes have gradually pushed the cost for many shows so high that some fans have chosen to stay away entirely.
Downing then quotes Milwaukee native Nicole Haase after she abandon the purchase process because of outrageously high ticket fees. Not only did the venue lose a sale, but by being quoted in a widely read newspaper, Ms. Haase is now functioning as an anti-salesperson for the venue. When asked how she felt just before abandoning the purchase process, she said "I never expected the fee would be more than the ticket. It’s almost comical. I couldn't have closed the window fast enough.”
It gets better [Or worse depending on your venue's ticket fee policy].
Downing published his random sampling of ticket fees charged by venues in the Madison area, the most egregious of which were between 25 - 37%. Downing includes the names of the venues and the individual dollar amounts, item by item.
The Frequency is an interesting case study. A bulk of the venue’s bookings are now handled by the Majestic Theatre under the banner “Majestic Live Presents.” For those shows, ticket fees on average account for a whopping 37.87 percent increase over the face value of a ticket. A ticket to Fever Marlene, for instance, cost $10 plus $4 in fees, bringing the total to $14, a 40 percent price increase.
The Capital Times exposé concludes with a caveat that the venues listed don’t have a practical alternative to charging high per-ticket fees (Wait. What?) and suggests consumers buy tickets directly from the respective box offices in order to avoid some service charges by third party re-sellers.
If the published list of Wisconsin venues charging high ticket fees can be considered "bad press” another list in Baltimore Maryland could be considered “really bad press”...
Previous editions of Fee Free Friday have gone into great detail on the ticket fee controversy in Baltimore, Maryland. City legislation made national news headlines during the past month when the decision was made to exempt industry giant Ticketmaster from a law that would cap the face value mark-up.
The majority of the news reports focus on the legal implications and made little mention of the plight of the ticket buying consumer. But Baltimore radio station WTMD has gone above and beyond by listing how much money the people of Baltimore are being charged in fees per ticket. From WTMD's website:
Jay Z and Justin Timberlake
Ticket Price $39.50
Facility Charge $5.00
Convenience Charge $12.50
Total Fees $17.50 or 44% of original ticket price
They Might Be Giants
Will Call Fee $2.00
Service Fee $5.50
State Tax $2.60
Total Fees $10.10 or 39% of original ticket price
Ticket Price $10.00
Processing Fee $3.50
Total Fees $3.50 or 35% of the original ticket price
Brown Paper Tickets
Ticket Price $10.00
Service Fee $1.34
Total Fees $1.34 or 13% of the original ticket price
Venue owners should know that the list was included as an addendum to the live WTMD radio broadcast, which can be heard here.
The radio station's market area includes all of the Baltimore metropolitan area, including Washington D.C. home to the nation's law makers. Just how many members of Congress heard the report is yet to be determined.
A reminder, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) has been pushing for federal reform of ticket fees with the Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act (BOSS ACT) since 2009. The latest iteration of the BOSS ACT has not (yet) been voted on by Congress.
Worst Company in America
Fee Free Friday kindred spirits The Consumerist have an on-going conversion about which company in the America is the most hostile to the consumer. The outspoken reports are couched in a bracket system like the NCAA basketball championships. This week, the two companies competing for the "prize" were Equifax and Ticketmaster. After a quick preamble about the credit giant, the public was asked to vote "Which Company Is Worse?"
The winner by a wide margin was Ticketmaster, with 63.78% of the respondents saying the ticketing industry giant is the worst company. The sentiment expressed by the public may be representative of the nation's venue owners too.
Music industry expert Bruce Houghton recently wrote of the success that alternatives to Ticketmaster are enjoying thanks to venue owners and event managers wanting to avoid high fees:
...Accelerating growth of the independent ticketing sector fueled improving technology and growing anybody-but-Ticketmaster sentiment.
Close review of The Consumerist poll results and Mr. Houghton thoughts are well worth the time if you are currently charging ticket fees. And speaking of angry ticket buyers...
Wall of Woe
This week's Wall of Woe starts off with a request of the ticketing industry from Bill Ruhsam...
I desperately wish online ticketing agencies would call a “convenience fee” something more truthful:
“WE HAVE TO PAY THE INTERNET SERVICE COMPANY”
“BECAUSE WE HATE YOU”
“BECAUSE YOU'VE CLICKED THROUGH THIS MANY SCREENS AND WE WANT TO SEE IF $5 ADDITIONAL WILL DRIVE YOU AWAY”
Seriously, this type of thing has got to be near the top of the most annoying customer service interactions.
Hopefully, the ticketing industry will have a response soon. In the mean time, here is a small sample of consumer sentiment toward unreasonable ticket fees:
If you are charging unreasonable per-ticket fees, how many abandon cart purchases has that caused? Have people like Bill Ruhsam and Vicky Sedgwick left your website after not buying tickets because of the high fees imposed by your choice in ticketing software? There is a better way.
ThunderTix does not charge you per-ticket fees. We let you decide on what fees to charge, if any, and provide the tools to intelligently mange how they are presented during the ticket purchase process. If your current ticketing software charges you and/or your customers fees, consider switching to ThunderTix. With ThunderTix, you can sell tickets without fees.
If you need to see for yourself how much money you could save by switching to ThunderTix, check out our online ticket fee calculator.