Mix'd Bag

Ticketmaster’d | A Matter Of Convenience

3 Comments 05 | December | 2011

If you’ve ever purchased tickets from Ticketmaster (TM) you already know that it’s a multi-step process that goes something like this:

Step 1: Search for the artist (e.g. “the Biebs,” “Rick Astley,” or “Ratt”)

Step 2: Select the quantity and location/price range for the tickets.

Step 3: Decipher an impossibly vague reCAPTCHA security phrase that appears to have been scrawled by heavily sedated kindergartner with mittens on.  (Note:  If during this step you have never clicked the “Vision Impaired” option, you really should.  A very nice computer lady reads a series of words and numbers while a garbled message from Satan plays in the background, ensuring no computers are able to pose as humans.  Scarred for life.)

Step 4: If the tickets are available (and that’s a big IF depending on which artist you are attempting to see) you will then choose your method of delivery.  TM recommends the print-at-home option which is so convenient that they only charge you $2.50 to send you an automated email you can then use to print your own tickets.  Surprisingly the list of delivery options doesn’t include “in the butt, no lube” because that is really the most accurate description of how you’re going to get it once you make it to Step 5.

Step 5: After conceding to pay an absurd charge for delivery, you notice the “Convenience Charge”.  A simple “WTF?!” won’t do; you want answers.  Like, “Why is this fee roughly 10% of the face value,” and “Where is a detailed breakdown of how this money is used to provide me convenience because it sure as hell isn’t going to the little monkeys in my computer that make the internet work.”

Soon you realize that the only way save a little money is to find a Ticketmaster office, physically go there and buy the tixs.  As far as I know there are two offices, Machu Picchu and Chernobyl, so good luck with that.   You’re stuck with the fees.  At this point you’re blasting your rape horn and pepper spraying your computer like an Occupy Wall St. protester.

Step 6: Submission/Acceptance.  You’ve successfully cycled through the steps of DABDA (the theory on coping with Death and Dying) 1) Denial, 2) Anger, 3) Bargaining, 4) Depression, and 5) Acceptance.  You come to grips with the situation and resolve to find your “happy place” as you click your final click.  There’s a reason it’s the “Submit” button.  TM is Lord and you are a hapless peon.  Know your role and shut your mouth.

If all of this is hitting close to home you’ll be slightly comforted with the fact that TM is in the process of settling a nationwide class action lawsuit that will reimburse select consumers for the “Processing Fees” that were tacked onto ticket sales from October 21, 1999 through May 31, 2010.

Finally, right?! Well there is a reason I said you’d only be “slightly” comforted.  What reward can members of the plaintiff’s “class” look forward to?  Answer:  a $1.50 per ticket reimbursement for up to 17 transactions.  Based on the 10% of face value assumption made above, that reimbursement figure is based on a $15 ticket price.  I’m willing to bet that since its inception not once has TM sold a ticket with a face value of $15.  In fact, I’m fairly certain that executives at TM wipe their asses with $15 tickets.  Nonetheless, if you max out all 17 transactions you’ll rake in a whopping $25.50 and that gets you 1/6th of a ticket to help cure your Bieber fever or go goo goo for Gaga.

There are additional reimbursements for UPS delivery fees, but even then you’re not making more than you paid.  Worst of all, TM will continue to charge these fees.  The lawsuit claimed that the fees were “excessive and deceptive,” but it seems the plaintiffs only won the battle on the deception front.  In the future TM will need to be more transparent about the fact these fees should really be labeled “Profit” or “Greed”.

On a lighter note, this ordeal reminds me of the Simpsons’ “Homerpalooza” episode which contained this exchange between Mr. Burns and Waylon Smithers:

Mr. Burns (sarcastically):  And to think, Smithers, you laughed when I bought Ticketmaster. “Nobody’s going to pay a 100% service charge.”
Smithers: Well, it’s a policy that ensures a healthy mix of the rich and the ignorant, sir.

I hate to say it, but it’s true.

Thanks to long-time friend and fellow Ticketmaster rape victim, Tyson V., for notifying me of this news and forwarding the legal email with all the details.  It’s a pretty long read, but if you’re interested in a copy, let me know and I’ll email it to you.  Don’t forget the $2.50 convenience fee.

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TALKING POINTS
Who wants to chair the Occupy Ticketmaster movement?
What’s the most expensive concert ticket you’ve ever purchased?  (Festivals not included)

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