Hear no, see no, speak no ...ticket fees
Ticket fees that equal 67% of the purchase? Has K-pop turned to chaos because of outrageous face-value mark-up? Fee Free Friday is back with those stories and more tales of ticket buyer misery. It seems the ticket industry just wants to pretend they see no evil, hear no, and, when pressed on the issue of the subject of unreasonable per-ticket fees, will speak no evil...
Fee Free Friday to the rescue!
The worldwide hyper phenomenon of Gangnam style originated in South Korea with K-pop megastar Psy and concert events even remotely associated are in extremely high demand. High demand tickets attract unscrupulous resell practices. Regular readers of Fee Free Friday are all too aware that where there is smoke there is fire...
On Tuesday, The Star online reported that a concert promoter Running Into The Sun (Rits) has taken such great exception to outrageous face-value mark-up being applied to their tickets they are publicly shaming the "value added re-sellers" on Facebook. According to The Star, the scalper mark-up has been giving resellers a 65% profit.
An executive from Rits stately his anger:
It is difficult to ignore the antics of black marketeers when fans queue for many hours to get tickets, and may end up paying a higher price for concert tickets. Scalpers, who ride on gigs by top acts to profit, use social media, fan forums and auction sites like eBay to offload tickets.
Rits noted that they will work directly with the venue to enforce “enhanced security features” contained in the tickets that detect unauthorized re-sale or re-use. The K-pop concert tickets must be purchased at authorized sales outlets and then original purchaser must present them at the gate. If that sequence is not observed, admission will be denied. So far, this pre-emptive strike has lead to 34 tickets being invalidated and the ticket holders will be barred from the Nov 23 event at the Marina Bay Floating Platform.
This may be a burgeoning trend. If artist and the valid ticket outlet begin to publicly shame the unscrupulous re-sales that hurt their bottom line, as well as the ticket buying public, using social media outlets, there may be a shift in power.
Unauthorized resale and the associate outrageous face value mark-up may become a thing of the past. Time will only tell if the same method will be used for ticket fees and service charges.
The Politics of Ticket Fees
Some very harsh words about ticket scalpers were spoken earlier this week by The Detroit News editor Henry Payne. The OpEd pulled no punches and framed the all too familiar misery of fees, service charges and face value mark-up in a political context.
With the not so subtle title of 'Big Scalper's GOP cronies' heavily criticized several members of Congress for siding with the ticket re-sellers by fighting legislation that would reduce or outlaw them outright. From Payne's editorial:
The two GOPers have joined Democratic busybodies in sticking their noses into ticket minutiae from how tickets can be resold to the price for which a ticket can be resold. But the real prize in this regulatory overkill is paperless ticketing - a longtime target of the Big Scalper lobby. Paperless tix for concerts can't be scalped - but must be used by the purchaser. And there's the rub. Scalping is a big industry in this eBay/StubHub era - and the Scalper Lobby isn't happy with the money it's losing from paperless ticketing.
Payne continues with some damning accusations of political corruption between Congressmen and the large ticket re-sellers. If you have the stomach for it, you are encourage to read the entire tirade yourself.
We find the language used a bit strong, and cannot endorse statements like "Republicans have decided to intervene in the ticket business on Big Scalper's behalf" but the larger issue of reforming the ticketing industry is one we do support. The focus must be on the consumer and any legislation must be framed to serve them first and foremost Left, right, center, we do not care what political side anyone is on, so long as ticket fees and re-sale are held in check. We are, of course, a long way away from that.
We wrote of the Sarah Millica boycott story back in early September and this week, Variety brings an update to the saga. David Benedict wrote that the situation has become even more toxic with additional theater owners and authorized ticket sales agents joining the fight against unreasonable tickets fees.
Millica's standup comedy will be enjoyed by fewer people because of one reason - tickets fees. Millica is boycotting any theaters run by Ambassadors Theater Group. The boycott started as a line in the sand by one artist, but more are joining in as Benedict points out in 'Ticket Fees spur backstage drama':
It's not just talent that's unhappy, producers are too. [The] fees are levied by all theater owners, and in many cases have been significantly increased. Those escalating charges have major implications on a show's ability to pay back investors.
Some eye-popping dollar amounts in the article can not be ignored.
Fees can account for a major chunk of the money shelled out on an individual ticket purchase. For instance, anyone wanting to buy a ticket to see standup comic Jimmy Carr at Milton Keynes Theater, one of ATG's 39 houses, must book through ATG's own ticketing system. The ticket's face value is $41.84, but costs rise as the buyer proceeds through the online system. A per ticket fee of $6.27 is added, along with a transaction fee of $4.59, so that what initially looked like a pair of tickets for $83.70 weighs in at $100.80.
Cracks in the dam are beginning to show as a result of the donnybrook. Apparently ATG is "in lengthy discussions over restructuring its fees with one possibility being a fee determined as a percentage of the ticket cost rather than as a set charge."
Proof that when consumers ban together with their favorite artists they can force a change in ticket fee policy. While we're on the subject of consumer outcries....
Wall of Woe
The weekly Wall of Woe is usually a long list of examples of ticket buyers writing how much they hate outrageous per-ticket fees, but now you hear it for yourself. Australian broadcaster ABC put the audio of consumers speaking directly of their disdain for fees from the popular call-in show. Every type of fee is mentioned but the obvious theme is "unjust and unfair". The hour long recording is recommended listening for anyone working in the ticket industry, especially if you have become callous to the written voice of the ticket buyer.
The recording is available as streaming audio or a s downloadable file here: https://blogs.abc.net.au/queensland/2012/10/your-calls-on-hidden-fees-and-charges.html
While those voices can be heard, here's more of the same in written form from across the Internet:
"Why do the processing fees go up as the seats get better? does it cost ticketmaster more to print a ticket with a closer seat number on it? $210 bucks for 3 people to sit where they can see? a 63% mark up on seats you can’t see from? seriously?"
"No, thank you, Ticketmaster. Your service charges suck."
"Concerts don’t sell out in one minute people, it’s the scalpers that buy half the venue. it really pisses me off that actual fans of artists can’t see them because some greedy man needs to sell a $25 ticket for $300. it’s really unfair to people who want to actually see someone perform."
"Why on God's green earth would you send out an email for discounted tickets and then when one goes to BUY said tickets, they aren't there!! I hate Ticketmaster! I hate Live Nation and I HATE that you've duped me again!!!! HATE!!!"
Yet another week has elapsed with no end to the roar of ticket buyers being continuously made miserable by unreasonable ticket fees. If anything the outrage seems to be getting louder and more frequent. Definitely not the direction the industry should be heading. We know there is better way.
ThunderTix does not charge ticket outlets per-ticket fees. We offer multiple tools to apply reasonable ticket fees and services charges including the option to not charge your patrons any fees at all.
If you are wondering if your current ticket fee policy is in-line with the expectations of your patrons, we encourage you to read our guide 'Sell Tickets Online No Fees' and decide for yourself what is best.