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Add-on ticket fees complicate purchases

Illustration: Alex Gomez· The Sentry

The total price should be advertised

Excessive service fees on tickets to events like live shows and sporting events are not an unfamiliar annoyance for anyone that has ever purchased a ticket to any sort of entertainment event. Essentially, the annoyance isn’t in the fees themselves but rather that the fees are tacked on to the originally advertised face value at the final step of checkout, making it rather alarming for those attempting to purchase the tickets.

Starting in 1994, investigations began concerning Ticketmaster’s exorbitant surcharges on event tickets, some even as high as 25 percent of the face value of the ticket being purchased. Groups like Pearl Jam often detested Ticketmaster’s way of business and regularly accused Ticketmaster for “monopolistic practices” due to the absurd amount charged in fees by the ticketing conglomerate.

Because of Pearl Jam’s accusations, the band attempted to negotiate lower service fees for their then upcoming tour and keep tickets at a modest $20, thus keeping service fees under $1.80 per ticket. The ticketing mogul refused and thus sparked the revolution of grievances toward excessive service fees for entertainment events. For many, the addition of these excessive service fees may cause individuals not to follow through with their purchase—ultimately deciding the event isn’t worth the money.     

Yet, the problem remains and continues to worsen. Currently, large name acts like Ariana Grande and Fleetwood Mac are advertising face value tickets anywhere from $34.95 to an upward of $499.95. The fees placed on the tickets are scarcely mentioned, except for a small warning near the face value prices of the tickets that reads “subject to additional fees,” until the fees are tacked on at checkout.

Tickets for bowl-level seats at the Pepsi Center that were once $120–200 now have anywhere from $50–73 in convenience fees added to the face value price of the ticket; and that’s when an online ticket through Flash Seats is used. “Will call” tickets and standard mail tickets tack on another $25 to the original addition of surcharges.

While the service fees do serve a purpose in making sure those working in the entertainment industry do get paid, the fees tacked on at the very last point of checkout is what is most frustrating.

As a solution, offering a breakdown of what fees are being added and why would certainly make purchasing a ticket to an event less agonizing.

Irving Azoff, manager for artists like the Eagles and Harry Styles, is trying to do just that. Azoff’s potential solution is to create an all-in ticketing experience. Meaning that the “face value” ranges presented before the point of purchase on ticketing websites will include those vexing service fees in the total price of the ticket.

While this is just one solution to an expensive problem, hopefully ticketing fees that are startlingly tacked on at checkout will begin to see an end, and service fees can then be included in the original advertisement of ticket prices.

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