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Friday, February 2, 2007

Ticketbastard

posted by on February 2 at 10:44 AM

Fed up with sticker shock when you want to buy tickets as advertised, and then get walloped with service charges and other fees.

This bi-partisan bill would require that the real cost is the advertised cost.

A hot-under-the-collar fan of this bill writes in: “HB 1978 would require that when a price is advertised for tickets, it’s the full price, including the facilities charges and convenience charges that Ticketbastard adds on. It would stop, say, The End from advertising tickets at $10.77 each when the real price you pay per ticket is more than double that (as happened with Endfest a couple years ago).”

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1

Sounds smart, but what about events where price varies depending on where the ticket is bought? For instance, buying tickets at the Showbox box office vs. at a Rudy's or QFC. I'm not saying they couldn't just make one price, but I'm curious to see what kind of support this bill gets, and from whom, and what arguments Ticketbastard will come up with against the bill.

Posted by steve | February 2, 2007 11:57 AM
2

Problem is that most tickets are set at the advertised price, and then how and where you buy them adds cost. For instance, a ticket bought from the Showbox ticket office is sold at face value. Online it is charged more, sometimes there are shipping options. There are credit card fees (set by the card operators), shipping costs, etc, etc.

The point behind the bill is great. Just not sure it will change anything. In Australia, many tickets are sold at an advertised price which includes all costs. It hasn't lowered ticket prices, in fact they are very, very high.

The real issue is the deals Ticketmaster makes with the venues. The bands have no choice on who sells the tickets to the show, it's all set by the promoter or venue. Some of the added costs go back to the promoter or venue, the band doesn't see them and is often unaware. Ticketmaster in turn give promoters ad space and promotion. It's a scam and the consumer gets ripped. See Pearl Jam vs. Ticketmaster.

Posted by Meinert | February 2, 2007 12:25 PM
3

I'd like to see this truth-in-price-advertising for all products. And in case anyone isn't familiar with it: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/

Posted by Noink | February 2, 2007 1:13 PM
4

"And you said nobody would pay a 100% serrvice charge, Smithers."

"It sure does ensure a healthy mix of the wealthy and the stupid, Sir."

or something close to that.

Posted by KEN | February 2, 2007 1:16 PM
5

Actually, even buying a ticket at the Showbox box office gets you an additional service charge added. Yay for nonsense.

Posted by KEN | February 2, 2007 1:17 PM
6

is listing multiple prices that hard? there are already multiple prices listed for many shows ("$7 advance or $10 day of show, $3 with a can of chunky noodle soup for the homeless, $4 for seniors, $6 for students, 2 drink minimum").

Posted by jamier | February 2, 2007 2:24 PM
7

Oh I hate them so much! I just bought tickets today for the shins. $25 dollars each. When ticketmaster got done with me, I spent $76 for two tickets. AND they wanted to charge me $8 extra EACH to EMAIL me the ticket! For some reason, having them olden days mail it to you is "free"
CURSE YOU TICKETMASTER
CURSE YOUR BLACK SOUL!!

Posted by blah | February 2, 2007 2:49 PM
8

can someone seriously explain to me what the deal is with all these handling fees? It makes no sense to me

Posted by blah | February 2, 2007 2:51 PM
9

When events are canceled or rescheduled, only the face value of the ticket is refunded. As frustrating as the current system is, imagine paying the advertised "real price" and then only getting half your money back.

Or would the bill force service charge refunds?

Posted by ugawuga | February 2, 2007 3:19 PM
10

The high prices in Oz/NZ are primarily overseas gigs; you can often see a bunch of great bands at RSL's in Oz very cheaply. The other arena in which all costs of the tix are now included in the advertising in Oz(or supposed to be, at least domestically): Airline tickets.

Posted by Dave Coffman | February 2, 2007 3:21 PM
11

Meinert,
Most of what you say is accurate. However, bands are not as innocent as they come off in your comment.

As you know, it is the agent's job to capture all of the money. Agents (correctly) assume that promoters have ticket rebates; they count on it. Without rebates (not just ticket rebates) promoters would not be able to pay the guarantees. An 85/15 split is virtually non-existent without promoters getting insides. To say that bands are unaware is inaccurate. Their representatives are banking on it.

In fact, on their last tour, a recently re-reformed band added $20 per ticket for the top two price levels and $10 per ticket for the bottom two price levels. This money was payable directly to the act outside of their ample guarantee-vs.-90%-of-the-net deal. Not only were they aware, they demanded that it be done and pointedly defended against resistence to the add-on by the promoter and the venue.

Beyond this example, several bands require that a fixed percentage of the house be sold through MusicToday or through the band's mail order ticketing system. Sometimes the fees to the consumer are minimized as a result. However, that is not to say that the artists are not adding on fees of their own. The lower price to the consumer is merely a function of the band not having to split the fees with anyone else. Again, to frame the artist as an unaware by-stander is just not supported by years of industry practice.

I have wondered when consumers would stop tolerating the iceberg method of ticket pricing. Maybe this bill is a step in the right direction toward up front disclosure. But, Meinert, I agree with you; it likely won't change a thing by way of total cost to the public.

Posted by Bands like money, too | February 2, 2007 4:56 PM
12

BLMT - you're write. Sometimes the bands are in on it. With Music Today direct to fan tickets, there is often a service charge set by the band of which the band gets a chunk.

Great article on page 6 of this month's Billboard on the economics of Sheds that should be read by anyone wishing to understand this crazy business.

End of the day, this law is just a well intentioned but pissed off lawmaker doing what they do to try to easily solve problems that exist in the market - make new laws that serve only to create more hoops to jump through. Before you buy a ticket, you know what the total price will be, that price isn't going to decline new law or not

Posted by Meinert | February 2, 2007 5:08 PM
13

Without pointing fingers or trying to rustle up a war, there's a ticket company already mentioned on this page who doesn't need any more publicity, that does just about all everyone is asking for and then some.

* prices up front that are like 50-90% less than the TBastard

* fixed fees (as far as the 6 or so tickets I've ever bought)

* price levels - senior, young, beautiful, poor

* tickets or ticketless your choice

* no penalty for calling on the phone to buy tickets

* no kickbacks - this might not be true, but I do know some very small events of friends that tried to hide a fee like the clubs do with ticketswest and TM, and they couldn't get one.

* they also donate and do good - if anyone really cares - cheap and send the damned ticket is all I ask for.

* basically, BPT already IS what everyone has asked for. Why don't they sell tickets to everything? Well, if there's that much money to be made, why give it up? Bands, clubs, ticketmaster, and promotors all feed off that so-called service charge! Fans still pay it! If you don't want to get hosed, don't go to their events. Just because the sex is good don't mean you take a beatin' from your boyfriend, right?

Wise up suckas!

Bootless Puss

Posted by don't go out much anymore... | February 2, 2007 9:22 PM
14

FWIW.

I've found legitimate tickets on craigslist at face value with no service charges.

I have also been searching eBay for good hard copy ticket deals.

There can be a decent assortment but watch out for exorbitant shipping charges and be sure to read all the fine print at the bottom of the page.

Posted by truthseeker | February 2, 2007 9:52 PM

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