Ticket Fees 2013 - Let the madness begin!
That's right, after a brief hiatus, Fee Free Friday is back as your TMZ of ticket fees and ticket industry news! ThunderTix still offers you the ability to sell tickets with no fees. The new year brings all new ticket fee horror stories including a scathing expose in Louisville, Kentucky. We also see One Direction going in the wrong direction and a new ticket fee with a very Orwellian name - "amusement tax".
If your new year resolution was to avoid paying outrageous ticket fees, well, we have got some real bad news...
Sometimes Things Get Complicated
Louisville Kentucky is famous for its horse racing and the Louisville Slugger baseball bat but this week it gets a new notoriety - being a city that has just had it with unreasonable ticket fees and service charges.
Jeffrey Lee Puckett of the Courier-Journal has written a scathing expose about everything that is wrong with buying tickets. In 'Buying concert tickets for Louisville shows getting more complicated' Puckett writes of Louisville ticket buyer's problems with high fees, scalper bots, and local venues seeming indifference to the misery. Just how bad things are starts off early in 'Complicated':
The tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. and they logged in a few minutes early at Ticketmaster.com. But by 10:05, the show was sold out and Meuer had zero tickets and two unhappy daughters.
Puckett also spoke to Fee Free Friday hero Dean Budnick, author of 'Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped'.
Budnick sees benefits to artists having tighter control over ticket sales, but also sees the secondary market as a potential gold mine for savvy shoppers. He has a friend who decided in 2012 that he would make scalpers his friends. “He told everyone that he was going to pay below face value for every single ticket he purchased” in 2012, Budnick said, “and through StubHub and various sites, he’s been able to do that. He’s gone to, I think, 28 shows without paying face value. He’s very proud of that.”
The lengthy report from Louisville spends the appropriate amount of time with regular, everyday folks who are just trying to buy tickets with their hard earned money, without being taken advantage of. The man-on-the-street style reporting is worth your time to read if you are currently charging unreasonable per-ticket fees for your event. Why? Because every week it seems as though a new city news outlet publishes a major piece about ticket fees - 100% of which portray the venues in a negative light.
It is not just the venues that suffer bad publicity when ticket distribution goes unchecked, some times the performers find themselves embroiled in controversy too...
European pop group One Direction has millions of fans and their concert tickets have millions in ticket fees in the form of face value mark-up. Jennifer O'Brien writes for The Sun and her report from earlier today has some rather eye popping dollar amounts therein.
The point of contention is European "value added re-seller" (*ahem*) Viagogo. The ticket re-seller has One Direction tickets for sale at 20 times their face value. The first word, in all caps, from O'Brien report says it all:
GREEDY sellers are attempting to make up to $950 off-loading their tickets to see One Direction this March. A number of online sites are advertising seats at the chart-topping band’s four-night stint at the O2 in Dublin. But with demand far exceeding supply, money-hungry touts are trying to cash in by advertising tickets at almost 20 TIMES their original value of just $52.
Online seller viagogo.ie is offering a single ticket to see the lads, including Irish hunk Niall Horan, for $959.86. The ad is for a ticket for the “flat seat” area near the front of the stage for $791.00 with a booking fee of $118.
The dollar amounts brush up against Fee Free Friday records, not something One Direction should be proud of. There is yet to be an official statement from the band or its management as of this writing. In the past, One Direction has made the effort to not let their fans be abused by ticket fees and scalpers, so we truly hope there is some kind of response for the concertgoers. Fans have taken to YouTube to express their anger over fees and resale mark-up (As noted at 3m 22s mark in the video above) - how soon will one of those video go viral, ala Gangman Style's one billion views? Should One Direction address the outrageous cost of their tickets, we'll report back.
"Amusing" Ticket Fees
The halpless ticket buyer just can't seem to get a break. If it isn't the venue and/or the performer charging outrageous ticket fees, then it's the city in which the event is to occur. To add insult to injury, the city of Bethlehem, in the state of Pennsylvania, has given the ticket fee a "double plus good" Orwellian name: "amusement tax". Few will find amusement in yet another ticket fee, but to the city's credit, some exemptions have been offered, according to Nicole Radzievich.
On Wednesday unanimously voted on first reading for an amusement tax that will impose a 5 percent tax on tickets to events that cost more than $10. The tax is capped at $1.50 per ticket. While the producer will be charged with paying the tax quarterly, some promoters have said the tax will likely be passed on to the user.
"This sort of fee you understand where it goes and it makes sense," Councilwoman Karen Dolan said after the meeting. "This will go to police protection and emergency services that you would expect at an event like this in the city. Officials at the six-month-old Sands Event Center initially criticized the tax because they did not have time to factor it into their business plan. But since then, city and center officials discussed tweaking the proposal to include a cap. Officials at the Sands have said the proposal is one they can live with."
Exceptions from the new ticket fees include nonprofits theaters, public schools and any event with less than 200 patrons.
The fee is reportedly to cover the costs of municipal services associated with events (sanitation, police presence etc.) but the tax was passed without regulation on the cost being heaped onto the public. Without regulation on the total amount of per-ticket fees that can be charged, the new tax is just another pain point for the consumer, the venues effectively feel nothing. This was also an opportunity to crack down on unauthorized re-sale by so-called scalpers, but that consumer protection was not addressed either.
Regular readers of Fee Free Friday know of our support for reasonable ticket fees, ones that are printed on the ticket in an easy to understand way. Sadly, the Bethlehem ticket fee does not meet our criteria for reasonable, especially since it does not include any limits on the other nebulous fees that can be charged. The city of Baltimore Maryland remains the poster child for limits on ticket fees, allowing only a 50 cent service charge over a ticket's face value.
Wall of Woe
It's a new year but the legacy of the weekly Wall of Woe lives on. The cries of angry ticket buyers are just getting louder in 2013, amplified by the power of social media.
"Resolution. My last minute decision to go to Resolution 2013 cost me $98 >.<. $75 ticket, and $23 to ticketmaster. I hate you ticketmaster."
Sell Tickets with No Fees!
We are definitely not off to a good start for 2013. The view through our rose-colored glasses has already been ruined in the very first week. It does not have to be this way all year long though.
ThunderTix does not charge you per ticket fees for selling tickets 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 sell tickets without fees. It’s that simple. Lower ticket costs through no added fees translate into higher sales and greater patron satisfaction.
Fee Free Friday will back next week with another long list of ticket fee fiascoes. Until then, if you want to sell tickets with no fees, be sure to take a look at all the features we have to offer and sign up for a free trial today!