Fee Free Friday – Mommie Dearest Edition

Fee Free Friday - Mommie Dearest Edition

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Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in the film classic 'Mommie Dearest' (1981)

Mother’s Day is this Sunday so #FeeFreeFriday goes all “Tina bring me the axe!” Mommie Dearest on unreasonable per ticket fees and services charges. Today, we find three more topics of interest. Live Nation made $868 million in the past 90 days, and we wonder how much of that is from exorbitant ticket fees. A disturbing news item of scalpers re-selling tickets reserved for the disabled. Finally, a K.D. Lang concert venue has a "constant craving" for high fees.

Live Nation says they're "kicking [the concertgoers?] ass"

Live Nation Entertainment has reported it made $868 million in revenue in the last 90 days, citing a 23% increase in concert ticket sales. The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Live Nation's CEO Michael Rapino about the company's first quarter of 2012...

We're kicking ass from a year-over-year perspective. More artists are on the road, and we're selling more tickets to each show. Importantly, we also saw a 6% increase in ticket sales this quarter as compared to last year, reflecting strong demand for our live events and giving us great confidence that we are well positioned for the summer concert season.

It is encouraging to see concert ticket sales are up, not for just Live Nation, but for the industry as a whole. Given the current state of the economy, it may not be prudent to [continue to] put the slight uptik in concert ticket sales at risk with unreasonable fees.

Mr. Rapino's boastful revenue claims come just two days after a Maryland federal judge refused to throw out a putative class action alleging Live Nation Entertainment Inc. imposed illegal service charges on tickets.

The city of Baltimore prohibits ticket service charges and fees to be more than $0.50 cents above face value. The class action against Live Nation asserts that Andre Bourgeois was charged a $12 service fee for a $52 Jackson Browne concert ticket.

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While we're on the subject of alleged scalping by Live Nation, the next news item is very disturbing. Pausing the normally light-hearted nature of Fee Free Friday for a moment, we report on it in a serious manner and with great concern.

Scalpers re-selling tickets reserved for the disabled

CBS news investigation in Denver Colorado reports that unscrupulous ticket scalpers are re-selling Red Rocks concert tickets reserved for the disabled. The investigation does not fault the Red Rocks Amphitheater expressly, leveling the blame fully on the immoral and unethical scalpers.

It seems the horrendous act is a loop hole exploit of the federal ADA law. CBS4 reports

The scalpers are very much profit driven and they aren’t thinking in terms of the moral conditions there. There are loopholes and they are quick to exploit them. Ironically, the very law that mandates disabled seating at concerts makes it nearly impossible to fix the problem. The Americans With Disabilities Act says that someone buying an accessible seat can then buy up to three additional seats for their companions in the same row. The ADA then allows the disabled purchaser to resell those seats, even to someone who does not have a disability.

Making it even more difficult to alleviate the problem, the ADA also prohibits venues or ticket sellers from requiring proof of disability as a condition for buying accessible seats. “They’re not breaking the law, but there’s a moral question there of how they’re taking advantage of people with disabilities".

The victim who was the center of focus in the investigation, Matt Feeney, a paraplegic, said of the scalper's immoral and unethical actions  “I wonder how these people sleep at night doing this.” We wonder the same.


The Overture Center’s “constant craving” for high fees

Ticket prices for the K.D. Lang concert at Overture Center seem reasonable at first glance, with seats listed at $35 each when purchased on the venue's website. But Madison On The Cheap took exception to that price, citing fees and services charges.

The cheapest tickets online from Overture are $35.50. However, there is a $5.75 fee added to the cost of each ticket and a $3.50 order charge added to the total. Two balcony tickets purchased online would cost you $86.

Madison On The Cheap did go on to say that Groupon had a pretty good deal for the K.D. Lang show. Using their affiliate link to Groupon, one could have purchased a lower-balcony seat ( a $60.50 value ) for just $30 and that price included all fees.

More importantly, we applaud MotC for their transparency, as stated in their post:

If you are already a Groupon member and click through on one of our links to purchase an offer, Madison on the Cheap receives a [very small] commission. We appreciate your support.

The Groupon offer has since expired, leaving the venue as the only ticket sale outlet and the 12% of face value fees and service charges remain. Queue Joan Crawford....

Should you charge ticket fees? We have some advice!

It goes without saying that people do not like unreasonable per ticket fees. Your ThunderTix account gives you the option to have your event be fee free and we encourage you to do so. Your bottom line is critical and should market forces require ticket fees, we urge you to use temperance and think of the long term success of your business.

Fee Free Friday will be back next week, and until then, we sincerely wish all the mothers a happy Mother’s Day.

As always, we want to hear from you about excessively high per ticket fees. Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation by using the #FeeFreeFriday hashtag!