No Good Fee Goes Unpunished
The ticket service fees are 91% of the purchase price?! And that’s not the worst of it. This week Fee Free Friday walks the gritty streets of Los Angeles and Toronto to find all new ticket service fees horror stories. Also, the legal rhetoric against the ticket industry goes up another notch and a first ever for the weekly wall of woe!
On Par with a Gangbanger
According to the L.A. Times a city attorney has allegedly accepted $18,000 in contributions from executives of Live Nation Entertainment Inc. At issue is the possibility of a conflict of interest since the city employee is currently pursuing an injunction against unregulated ticket resellers (or so-called "scalpers"). If the injunction were to pass Live Nation would benefit from it by becoming the sole event ticket re-seller in Los Angeles. Times reporter Alex Pham writes:
Live Nation's Ticketmaster service is the authorized ticket seller for Staples, the Coliseum and Dodger Stadium. Because the company would benefit from an elimination of competing ticket resellers, the donations could create an appearance of a conflict of interest[...]Trutanich's campaign officials adamantly denied a link between the contributions and the civil court action.
Originally, the city wide injunction on so-called scalpers was touted as the toughest in the country. The LA Weekly wrote of it a few weeks ago:
That guy with the cardboard sign yelling 'Tickets!' is on par with a gangbanger. At least that's the message City Attorney Carmen Trutanich sent with an announcement yesterday that Los Angeles will institute the nation's first-ever scalper injunction. What that means is that known scalpers - 17 of them in particular - will be preemptively banned from plying their trade at specific venues and associating with each other. This tactic is more commonly used against gang members, preventing them from congregating in particular areas, or with particular people.
That is the right idea, but the alleged conflict of interest between the city attorney and Live Nation may have mangled the injunction's benefits. The injunction was designed to protect public safety, not corporate interests.
One eye popping statistic in the article is the estimated amount of money made from the face value markup re-sellers get - an estimated $4.5 billion. That amount is in the U.S. alone and does not include Canada where the war against outrageously high ticket service fees and face value markup has a new front...
This week Bronwyn Oatley asked 'How do cities control ticket-scalpers?' in her investigative report for the Open File. Her approach to making consumers in Canada more aware of the laws against ticket scalping was to define the law in each province.
As Oatley cites case law, her tone changes from one of confidence to disappointment. Enforcement, she writes, is not effective, hampered by a lack of resources, but more over, a lack of commitment by the ticket outlets.
I don’t think the fines deter them that much. They just add it into the ‘loss’ category of their balance sheet. Though, we have seen their behavior start to change ["scalpers"] have gotten smarter. They don’t carry many tickets on them anymore because they know that we seize all of the tickets if they are caught for scalping. They will work with someone else and run back and forth as they make sales. this crime is rarely enforced, its partner law—one that prohibits the sale of a ticket at a price higher than that at which it was purchased—is more often handed down.
Oatley isn't the only person to call the ticket industry to the carpet this week...
What a Sell-Out
Suhail Khan's 'How ticketing companies deny our property rights and monopolize markets' is quite a scathing indictment of the ticket industry as a whole.
The OpEd rails against ticket fees and consumer hostile practices by venues and ticket resellers as being "violators of established private property rights". He goes so far as to cite the Fifth Amendment's right to own private property saying this freedom ensures consumers own what they buy and no institution or person can deprive a consumer of that property, or control how they use it.
In defense of the consumer, Khan goes into special detail on the ticket buying experience:
By tying tickets to the purchaser’s credit card, these companies are in effect stripping you of basic ownership rights. Most paperless tickets are non-transferable, meaning you can’t sell them to a colleague if you get tied up at the office; if there’s a family emergency and you can’t make it to the game, you won’t be able to give the tickets away to friends; you can’t even give paperless tickets as gifts. When companies and venues do allow restrictive tickets to be transferred, they force consumers to use a single, designated marketplace. These exchanges often require both buyers and sellers to pay fees — even to give away tickets for free.
Khan doesn't pull any punches when it comes to ticket fees either:
Laughably described as a 'convenience' the restrictive ticketing is simply and obviously a way for a dysfunctional industry to monopolize the resale market. Having long enjoyed near-monopoly control of the primary ticketing market.
The escalation of language is what should give anyone in the ticket industry pause. We report on "Usurious Ticket Fee", now Khan cites the Private Property legal statutes of the Fifth Amendment. The tone and case laws are getting more and more severe when it comes to ticket fees and service charges. It may be best for the entire industry to rethink the concept of fees.
Wall of Woe 2.0
What would Fee Free Friday be without a long list of miserable ticket buyers being displayed on the Wall of Woe. The wall is below but with a difference...
Noel Liebman noted that taxes and fees made up 91% of the purchase price for a ticket(!) as seen below.
The conversation started to take a turn for the worse, but then one of our favorite people, Austin software developer Keith Gaddis, chimed in with what we think is an excellent suggestion! :D
The Wall of Woe with a happy ending? That's a first!
That last bit of self-indulgence aside, the issue of how much people hate unreasonably high per ticket fees is a serious one. Fees and service charges that amount to more than half of the purchase price are bound to cause cart abandonment. In addition to abandonment, there is sure to be a subsequent tweet made, and you'll be lucky if only a few thousand people read it.
ThunderTix does not charge per ticket fees and we give you all the tools and options you need to pass that savings along to your customers - You can even go fee free! If you are not sure of the best practices for charging ticket fees, we encourage you to read Sell Tickets Online with No Fees.
Ticket fees, services charges, ticket fulfillment costs are serious business, so are the ticket fee fee tools in a ThunderTix account.