Fee Free (Black) Friday
Black Friday is the pinnacle of consumer power. That means it's not just black Friday, it's Fee Free (Black) Friday. This week we find far too many parallels exist between a recent behavioral economist's study and ticket fees. We also see that a certain ticket industry giant has made the Consumer Reports "naughty list". The Wall of Woe gets turned upside down for black Friday.
If you're charging unreasonable ticket fees read on to find out if you're on the Consumer Reports "naughty list" too!
Week after week Fee Free Friday lists the low lights of event ticket fees and the misery they inflict on the ticket buying public. It seems some behavior economists have been listing another form of consumer misery - the madness of black Friday gift shopping. Kevin Roose just published 'Why Black Friday Is a Behavioral Economist’s Nightmare' in New York Magazine. Roose lists some nefarious practices retailers use against consumers on the biggest shopping day of the year, some of which have uncanny parallels to event ticket fees.
...on Black Friday, our rational decision-making faculties are at their weakest, just as stores are trying their hardest to maximize your mistakes. Here are just a few of the behavioral traps you might fall into this Friday
Implied scarcity: This is when a store attempts to drum up interest in an item by claiming "limited quantity" or "maximum two per customer," which makes us think we're getting something valuable when we may not be. It's a staple of deceptive marketing, and at no time in the calendar year is it in wider use than on Black Friday.
That sounds a lot like previous Fee Free Friday reports on tickets being intentionally taken out of stock in order to artificially shrink inventory. The parallel universe between retail and ticketing continues:
Post-purchase rationalization: When we've bought something expensive, we tend to overlook its flaws or defects in order to justify our decision. On Black Friday, the investment is more than just financial — we've emotionally invested in the post-holiday ritual of standing in line with friends or family and enduring cold, dark misery for the shot at cheap electronics. That excess investment leads to excess rationalization, and coupled with a return/refund process that is a nightmare at many big-box retailers, it leads to people owning a lot of things they're not very happy with.
Emotional investment? Yes, that too is a huge part of ticket buyers trying to see their favorite artist perform. Outrageous ticket fees that would normally cause cart abandonment, sometimes survive because the buyer wants so badly to attend an event. The harsh realization of just of much fees have increased the ticket price doesn't hit until the purchase is over. That leaves the scorned consumer to take to social media and tell everyone how they feel.
"We all make the same types of mistakes over and over, because of the basic wiring of our brains."
Retailers and ticket purveyors alike need to recognize the long term effects of unscrupulous practices. They made lead to more harm than good...
Checking It Twice
The 1934 song 'Santa Clause is Coming to Town' includes the memorable line "He's making a list, and checking it twice. Going to find out who is naughty and nice." The heroes at Consumer Reports have made a "naught & nice " list too, which they published this week. In the naughty column is ticket industry giant Ticketmaster (surprised?). Consumer Reports cite ticket fees specifically as the reason the Big T made the list:
This is our third annual Naughty & Nice List. Companies were dinged for hidden or tricky fees, fine print, and unfriendly practices...[Ticketmaster] charges customers $2.50 per order to print out their own tickets? That’s especially hard to justify since Ticketmaster will ship tickets for free via snail mail. But the company’s got that angle covered, too. If you choose to have your tickets mailed for free, Ticketmaster says they’ll ship within a leisurely 10 to 14 days of purchase, insufficient lead time for some events. Thus, you’re forced to trade up to expedited shipping (starting at $14.50) or choose to print them yourself. Gotcha.
This may be a good time to note that tens of millions of consumers refer to Consumer Reports and the influence on purchasing decisions should not be underestimated. Rather than risk a permanent association with unreasonable ticket fees, or worse, to have one's business be branded as "consumer hostile", the savvy venue may wish to make black Friday a day to eliminate ticket fees.
Wall of...Whoa Wait A Minute
Normally Fee Free Friday Wall of Woe is a long list of ticket buyers bemoaning outrageous ticket fees and service charges, but rather than beat a dead horse, below are venues and events turning making the most of the black Friday spotlight and lowering or eliminating ticket fees.
"The Golden State Warriors are partnering with Ticketmaster to eliminate individual game ticket fees for the Holiday weekend, the team announced today. The Warriors team store will also waive shipping fees for online orders."
The Kirkland Performance Center in Washington state is waiving all tickets fees for over a dozen performances during black Friday. They have even given the sale a great name! ;)
"Fee Friday Friday November 23rd. Buy tickets to any KPC presented performance on 11/23/12 and we will waive the ticket fees! "
Finally, The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco is having a no ticket fee black Friday special for tickets purchased online today.
"Get a jump start on holiday gift shopping when you buy tickets to any Warfield or Regency Ballroom show on Black Friday! Service Fee Relief on Black Friday. All service fees will be waived on tickets purchased online from 10am – 10pm on Black Friday, November 23rd"
( Bask in this warm fuzzy feeling while you can. Next week's Wall of Woe will be it's usual chamber of horrors. )
Black Friday mayhem is a good reminder of the power of consumer sentiment. Do not dismiss its impact on your business. There is a way to run a very profitable event while making your patrons very happy - apply reasonable tickets fees, or better yet none at all.
ThunderTix lets you sell tickets with no fees online or at the box office. We encourage you to pass along that savings to the consumer and show them the long term vision of your business is tied directly to their satisfaction. Your patrons will love that you don’t add fees. It’s that simple. Lower ticket costs through no added fees translate into higher sales and greater patron satisfaction.