Ticket Fees - This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things!
"This is why we can't have nice things!" - that's what every parent says when something nice gets ruined. This week's Fee Free Friday leads off with news that people are reselling tickets to the Sandy Relief Concert for up to $60,000 each, ruining the altruistic intent. Ghastly profiteering on a charity event is just the start. We find an all new source of outrageous ticket fees in the most unusual place (to date) and ticket buyers have made a video that asks "Are You a Belieber?" [sic]. Plus the Wall of Woe is back and worse than ever before.
After reading this edition of Fee Free Friday, the TMZ of ticket fees, you'll be screaming "This is why we can't have nice things!" too.
This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things!
When ticket are resold by unauthorized agents, the face value gets marked up to offensive amounts. Some call people that do this "value added re-sellers" some call them "scalpers". Semantics aside, the mark-up should be considered as ticket fees, the same way a stadium "seat license" is a ticket fee.
One would think that charity events, like the upcoming concert to help the victims of hurricane Sandy, would be immune from unscrupulous resell, but you would be wrong.
The mainstream media is rife with horrific headlines about the reselling of tickets to the Sandy relief concert. The very idea that anyone would try to profiteer on the misery of others is upsetting enough, let alone some of the dollar amounts being charged.
In the past few weeks, the line-up of performers for the Sandy relief concert, which is informally called "121212" for it's scheduled date of December 12th, 2012, has been adding more and more world famous acts. Bruce Springsteen Eric Clapton and Bon Jovi are just a few. With each additional new famous name, the tickets for the show have been becoming more and more sought after.
Face value for the tickets is between $80 and $250 each, nearly all of that going toward the relief effort. But no sooner did tickets go on sale did they start appear on resale sites like StubHub and Craig's List. Reselling regular concert tickets on those sites is one thing, but reselling tickets to a charity event is another thing entirely. As of this writing, the average price being gouged for 121212 tickets at around $400 and go up to an asking price of $60,000.00 (sixty-thousand).
The scalping of 121212 tickets, along with the outrageous face value mark-up that does not go to the Sandy victims, caught the attention of many, most notably Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The New York Daily News quotes Sen. Schumer
"I find it appalling that scalpers are trying to profit off this charitable concert." The senator called on the resale sites to stop listing tickets for the concert at prices above the face value of the ducat unless that person is willing to donate all money from its sale.
Also quoted are area residents, some of whom have lost their homes and are in desperate need of help, on what they think of scalping tickets to a charity event.
Michael Sullivan, whose family was displaced from Breezy Point by the storm, was equally disgusted — yet not surprised the scalpers would try to turn a profit on the backs of Sandy survivors. “They would sell tickets to their mother’s funeral if they could get a deal.”
To StubHub's credit, a search for 121212 ticket causes a pop-up to appear with a disclaimer that Stub Hub is donating all the money it makes from the resale to the relief effort. An admirable effort, but one must ask why they are allowing resale at all.
The often vilified TicketMaster is doing the right thing and not allowing 121212 tickets to be resold on their secondary outlet TicketsNow.
"No one but the Robin Hood Foundation should profit from this event." Ticketmaster spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson said.
We are just mortified by this abuse. We do not have words strong enough to denounce the resale of 121212 charity tickets for the purposes of profiteering. We call upon anyone involved to immediately stop and think of the storm victims plight. We also encourage everyone to go to the official Concert for Sandy Relief website and donate any amount of money possible.
After reading the above, you may take a moment to go get a drink of water to wash out the bad taste in your mouth (we need to) before continuing on...
Hail To The Chief
The realm of Fee Free Friday is usually within the confines of music concerts, theaters and the odd event that is charging far too much in ticket fees, our "un-comfort zone" if you will. We may need to expand our scope if this unusual source of overpriced tickets is to be believed.
The CBS affiliate in Baltimore Maryland ran an Associated Press story about president Obama's upcoming inauguration The story starts off as a somewhat mundane rundown of the event and some historical precedent. What gave us pause was the amount of money being paid by some to attend the January 21st 2013 spectacle. The CBS version of the story includes dollar amounts being paid:
Congressional offices will distribute roughly 250,000 tickets for people to watch in front of the podium, with members of the public able to attend without tickets down the National Mall.
[VIP] Inaugural guests receive special amenities including an edible chocolate photo of the president and commemorative inauguration pillow cases, or for $100,000, they can buy a package that includes four nights in a luxury suite, a private tour of Washington and other VIP access and a one-of-a-kind diamond and ruby eagle pin that retails for $35,000.
We have already heard rumors of scalping and CNN is reporting, without citation to a source, that the free tickets are selling for five figures:
Interest in President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration is running so high that one ticket broker is asking $20,095 for a single ticket.
Inauguration ceremony tickets are supposed to be free, given away to the public on a first come first serve basis by members of Congress. We found a website listing tickets for up to $12,000 each.
..."This is why we can't have nice things!" indeed
Are You a Belieber?
The average concertgoer has more power than ever before, one need only to look at the view counts of popular YouTube videos to confirm that. So it should be no surprise that ticket buyers have started to use the YouTube global soapbox to complain about ticket fees and other pain points that ruin their experience.
The nonprofit Show Me Institute has gotten the ball rolling with its new YouTube video 'Paperless Ticketing: Are You a Belieber?' (above). The pun laden title should not discount its potential. Young concert goers are asked about the ticket buying experience and the answers pull no punches.
Fans have very negative things to say about paper concert tickets, "scalpers" and the lack of control they have over what they think is their property. If you are a venue owner or an event promoter you are challenged to watch the video and note the answers to the questions.
The Return of the Wall of Woe
After a brief hiatus, the weekly Wall of Woe is back. Below is the global pulse of how the ticket buying public feels about fees. The mantra here at Fee Free Friday since day one is that unreasonable ticket fees cause long term damage to the ticketing industry as a whole and to each individual venues applying them. The Wall of Woe is where the loudest cries of anger are found.
Pop-music star Ron Pope spoke directly to his 30,000+ fans on Twitter and asking for an explanation as to why ticket fees are so high
It gets worse...
The wildly popular country music website CMTT went on a mini-tirade to a different set of 30,000+ people
This is occurring every hour, of every day. Of course not everyone has an audience of thousands but in aggregate, millions of individual complaints about unreasonable ticket fees add up to be just as powerful.
"It's why everyone hates Ticketmaster so much...it's one thing to pay $40 for a ticket, it's another to pay $15 and then 53 different fees on top of it that add up to $25. It may be the same total amount either way, but in the second case you feel like you're getting screwed."
"Those Ticketmaster order fees are reasonable." - said no one ever
Is the short term gain of per-ticket fees really worth having your venue or professional reputation disparaged to tens of thousands of people? We say no. We also say there is a better way.
ThunderTix is a no fee ticketing software giving venues the control to sell tickets online or at the box office fee free or with a nominal fee. 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.
Fee Free Friday, the TMZ of ticket fees, will be back next week with more perfect good events ruined by unreasonable ticket fees. Until then, be sure to take a look at our other features and sign up for a free trial today!