Hell Freezes Over
191.3% of the purchase price are ticket fees? That would make anyone curse under their breath. How about a $17,000.00 fee for the "right to purchase a ticket"? Think that made someone swear? What four letter word would you say after paying a fee for "being allowed" to print your ticket at home?
Read on with Fee Free Friday as your lifeguard on the Lake of Fire, it's going to get a bit warm...
Hell Freezes Over
Many a maligned ticket buyer has said they expect ticket prices to be displayed clearly, with the total amount shown in an up-front manner, when "Hell freezes over". Well, put on your parkas, that may have actually happened.
On Wednesday, the Ticketmaster blog announced that their resale channel Tickets Now will adopt the up-front pricing for Ticketmaster event tickets. The 'We Heart All-In Pricing' post quotes Ticketmaster CEO, Nathan Hubbard from his Fast Company interview from June, 2011:
Hubbard favors a flat price, without fees broken out, like virtually every other product or service. Apple wouldn't be Apple if it charged music fans 69¢ for a song and then tacked on another 30¢. Oh, wait,that’s exactly what it does, but consumers don’t see iTunes’ surcharge every time they buy. The way the [event] industry presents pricing is Byzantine. We don’t break out the rent for the venue or the gas it took to bus artists to town.
The FastCo, interview, dubious title 'Ticketmaster: Rocking The Most Hated Brand In America' does convey insight into the challenges Hubbard faces with consumer sentiment towards per-ticket fees. At the time, Fast Co.'s Chuck Salter wrote:
[Hubbard's] challenging of the status quo regarding Ticketmaster's fees. Last fall, he launched a Ticketmaster blog and immediately took on the elephant in the room. 'We get it -- you don't like service fees,' he wrote in the opening post. He has persuaded a third of venues to eliminate the truly shameless $2.50 TicketFast charge for the service of letting you print your own tickets. And he has worked to move fees to the first page of a transaction because springing them on customers at the end is wrong. The change, he says, 'never would have happened if I'd asked permission from the industry.'
Now, with this past Wednesday's Tickemaster blog post, Hubbard seems to be following through on his original 2011 intent. It must be acknowledged that the sheer size of the ticket industry giant does make up-front pricing policy change slow to implement.:
We have several changes we’d like to see to the way fees are presented. At Ticketmaster, we aren't able to make many of these changes without our clients’ approval. Our clients own the tickets we sell, they set the prices, and they determine much about how tickets are put up for sale. That’s as it should be. But with over 10,000 clients, it means change doesn't come easily.
We wholeheartedly applaud Hubbard and Ticketmaster for the initial effort in up-front pricing, including displaying all ticket fees at the beginning of the purchase process. We also hope the entire industry adopts the same "fan first" modus operandi.
The question must be asked: Will up front pricing of ticket fees decrease or increase cart abandonment? The sticker shock of event tickets that include all fees and services charges being displayed on step one of checkout may be too much to bear.
What the Hell am I Doing Here?
This week beloved bands Radiohead and Orbital signed the anti-secondary ticketing charter, joining forces with several large entertainment organizations and venues. The charter is authored by the Association of Independent Festivals. The AIF charter is described as a pledge to be "transparent with the pricing and distribution of tickets for events". The 55 industry execs, artists, promoters and festivals who have signed express their reason for doing so as "adopting ticketing processes and technologies which ensure tickets reach the hands of real fans rather than touts."
Tim Ingham of Music Week wrote of the AIF's latest celebrity members and cites the ever growing list of popular artists signing the charter for the sake of their fans:
Signatories of the AIF’s Charter include Radiohead, Orbital, Gotye, Portishead, the Coda Agency, Hospital Records, Ninja Tune, Wildlife Entertainment (manager of Artic Monkeys and Miles Kane) and WeGotTickets. Live events and festivals that have put their name to the Charter include Bearded Theory, Bestival, the Eden Sessions, Kendal Calling, Truck, Secret Garden Party and Green Man.
Ingham goes on to quote AIF co-founder Rob da Bank:
The whole secondary ticketing situation does make me really angry, mostly because I just don't feel many of the people paying vastly inflated prices actually understand the mechanics behind it, and secondly because the people profiting are doing so driven by pure greed.
Artists and performers may join the alliance as "friends" and all venues and event facilities may also join as full members.
We have always thought that the long tail of small and medium sized venues could wield some stout authority if they ever banded together under one roof. The AIF may be the start of a much larger movement and unscrupulous ticket resellers should beware. Outrageous face value mark-ups are second only to per-ticket fees when it comes to consumer outcries. Imagine what would happen if the United Sates Congress were to join the AIF.
A $17,000 fee - What the Hell?
Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution broke the story early this week that the new NFL stadium being built in Atlanta may require current season ticket holders to purchase a so-called "seat license" in order to keep their place in the new stadium.
The idea that existing ticket holders must pay a fees for what they already own is not going over very well, to say the least. What's worse are the purported prices of the seat licenses - from $10,000.00 to $17,000.00 each(!).
Some Falcons fans have expressed concern about expected increases in the cost of attending games since stadium talks heated up earlier this year. An AJC examination of the three NFL stadiums built in the past five years, published in May, showed that ticket prices jumped by an average of 26 percent in the season the stadiums opened and that many fans paid thousands of dollars more in seat license fees.
Tucker writes that funding the construction of the new stadium may become a tax burden on the citizens of Atlanta, hence the seat license ticket fee.
Under the deal being negotiated, an estimated $300 million or less would come from bonds to be repaid by hotel-motel tax revenue and the rest of the cost – minus whatever is raised from seat licenses – would be the responsibility of the Falcons and the NFL. The state Legislature in 2010 authorized an extension of Atlanta’s hotel-motel tax through 2050 as a partial funding mechanism for a new stadium.
Falcon fans have raised some very valid questions. Would all seats require them? If not, what percentage? And what would be the price range?
You can read fan sentiment, if you have the stomach for it, in the official Falcons forums. Of note are the comparisons to the prices of seat licenses at other NFL stadiums. A Nashville Titans season ticket seat license is just $500.00 for example.
Currently, the Atlanta Falcon are the hottest team in the NFL, undefeated for the moment, and it would not be too difficult to wonder out loud if the seat license came into being because the team is doing so well.
Hell hath no fury like a ticket buyer scorned
In writing our weekly Wall of Woe, one of the top sources use to convey ticket buyer misery is Amplicate. The website was just recently refreshed for ticket fees. Much of the ticketing industry's bad reputation for unreasonable per-ticket fees ends up getting cached by the search engine's crawler bots, and sits static. Amplicate refreshes on a regular basis, keeping the consumer sentiment about ticket fees fresh.
Ticketmaster fees are outrageous !!! Ticket - 81.00 Facility charge - 4.00 Convenience Charge - 12.70 Processing fee - 5.95
Total $103.65. $23.65 per ticket in charges (23%) Shameful - I cancelled out before paying such rates
Fees, fees and more f___in' fees!!! Really, a fee to email my tickets to me so I can print them out? SERIOUSLY? Nothing like getting bent over again and again and again by your corporate overlords at Ticketmaster. All heil the meister!
They doubled the price of my tickets (actually 191.3%). Did not send the tickets, then charged over $42.00 in extraneous fees. Plus, we did not get the tickets we ordered when we "clicked" the Des Moines Civic Center seating choice.
The howls of scorned ticket buyers banding an event website shopping cart because of unreasonable ticket fees should not be happening. There is a better way.
We have a guide on the best practices for ticket fees in ‘Sell Tickets Online with No Fees’ which you are encouraged to read. ThunderTix online ticketing software has industry leading tools that give you complete control over fees and services charges – including the option to go fee free.