Mon, November 21, 2005
Ticketmaster: The Sweet Spoils of Pseudo-Monopoly—11:11 AM
Begrudgingly, I bought some tickets on Ticketmaster today. I avoid this whenever I can, but I have done it often enough by necessity that I know the drill: pants down, waist bent, ankles grabbed.
Sure enough: $7.75 per ticket as a "convenience fee" plus another $4.50 for the entire transaction as an "order processing fee." Gosh, I'd have thought the actual processing of the order would fall under the definition of "convenience." An unprocessed order would be very inconvenient indeed.
Worse yet, the $7.75 appears to be based on a percentage of the ticket price. For the cheaper tickets, the "convenience anal rape fee" was only $7.50. Does it cost Ticketmaster more to provide the convenience of more expensive tickets? No!
Ticketmaster gets a percentage from the people whose tickets they're selling – which in any sane world would be more than enough to cover their overhead, since all they have to do is provide a list of shows, display horribly vague seating charts, and print out tickets. On top of that they charge their own fees, presumably to cover more costs. But then why does that need to vary in proportion to the ticket price? More expensive tickets aren't any harder to print. And why does an additional fee need to be added per transaction?
The answer: because they've got us over a barrel. They've been the dominant ticket-selling force forever, so venues are going to keep using them, and that leaves us, the consumers, with no choice. Given that captive market, Ticketmaster would be crazy if they didn't charge outlandish fees and provide terrible customer service. That's how capitalism works, particularly in a monopoly.
I vaguely remember – years ago – some band trying to cut Ticketmaster out of the deal and getting into a big fight. I think it was Pearl Jam, in which case it would have been the only thing they ever did that I have any respect for.