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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.

10 Comments (Add your comments)

"Alicia"Mon, 11/21/05 3:34pm

It was definitely Pearl Jam, and if I remember correctly they actually sued Ticketmaster for being a monopoly, and lost. I hate dealing with Ticketmaster also, it's the feeling of being totally cheated in the most obvious and unapologetic and yet going along with it anyway, like some sort of fetishized humiliation act.

What would it take for someone to create a competing site? Why doesn't someone do that? The bands must hate pissing off their fans and for a year or two it would be good hipster cred, to use AlternativeTickets.com, right? Hope? Someone?

"Stacey"Wed, 11/23/05 11:55am

I'm going to pretend to know way more than I do here and note that I'm pretty sure that the thing that killed Pearl Jam's law suit and that prevents other bands from successfully speaking out on this issue is that the bands don't really have a choice, or rather that it isn't their choice to make. Again, possibly making shit up here, but I'm pretty sure that the concert venues and the concert promoters get to decide and they have no interest in leaving ticketmaster, especially since ticketmaster has long since suckered them all into some horrible version of a lifelong, exclusive contract. And so, we all bend over to corporate America again. Anyone want to go to Walmart and buy some censored CDs with me?

Bee BoyWed, 11/23/05 12:33pm

I definitely agree. (But I have a lot of experience pretending to know way more than I do.) The venues are making the Ticketmaster choice, and the musical acts have no influence in the decision, as usual.

I'm curious what it would take for a new competitor to lure venues away from Ticketmaster. I'm sure it'd be more than money because venues probably hate having to deal with the hassle of ticketing at all, and will happily continue paying a premium for the "convenience" of Ticketmaster (where "convenience" is defined as "being accustomed to the current hellish experience, rather than having to learn a whole new hellish experience").

Great to see you! Hope Teaspoon is well and treating you nicely!

"John"Sat, 11/26/05 6:04pm

There are alternatives to TicketMaster. The biggest I can think of at the moment is TicketWeb (see http://www.ticketweb.com/ for info.) They're fine and come with low fees but I've had to buy tickets from some third-rate competitors that left me feeling nostalgic for TicketMaster fees.

As much as I dislike paying all their fees I really do appreciate the services provided. The site is easy to navigate and a constant for hundreds of shows, sporting events and whatever all across the country. Plus, think of the traffic they handle; the site constantly survives being flooded with requests right at on-sale times.

Anonymous CowardFri, 12/9/05 8:57pm

ticket web is owned by Ticketmaster by the way...

Bee BoySat, 12/10/05 1:56am

And that's how they get ya! (Assuming this is true.)

The best way to maintain your monopoly is to wait until the tide of furious animosity is reaching its peak, then just when your customers are willing to try any alternative just to get away from you, release a "competitor" that's really a wholly-owned subsidiary. Brilliant!

"John"Sun, 12/11/05 8:20pm

Whoa. I guess you learn about something that happened five years ago everyday.

This is more of a maintain your control by buying up the minor competitors (in 2000, $50 million in sales vs $2.8 billion for TM) and using them as a relief valve for venues/artists/markets that won't accept larger surcharges.

"jimbo"Mon, 1/2/06 6:59pm

i rather pay a licensed ticket broker and at least know exactly what im geeting,they may be capitalists but at least they are smart,hey i work hard and i want to give my money to someone who earns it

Anonymous CowardSat, 11/3/07 2:21pm

Ticketweb is absolutely owned by tickemaster take it from a venue who just switched to try and save some money for the venue and the consumer. Only 1 small problem. Our sales our down 50% which means we will have to go back.

Anonymous CowardMon, 7/14/08 12:58pm

please contact David (239) 784-5112- regarding VivaTicketing, $2.oo surcharge AND 50 cent rebate to selesperson ( who signs the venue)!

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