“Ticket scalpers” have a tough time. Everybody seems to despise them: musicians, music and sports fans, promoters, sports teams, and concert venues. “Scalpers” are accused of “cheating” people (see sign above), and musicians like LCD Soundsytem call them really, really bad names like “pieces of f***ing shit,” “scalping scumf***s and “shitbags.” Wow! You would think they were talking about Osama bin Laden, Hitler, or Jerry Sandusky, not a seller engaged in a voluntary, market transaction with a willing buyer, sometimes for a ticket selling below face value!
Well, how about some outrage for the really, really, truly evil bad guys and ticket-selling monsters – Ticketmaster. Have you checked their fees and paperless ticket restriction lately? If not, here’s what the evil, anti-competitive, anti-fan ticket monopolist is doing, using the Eric Church concert in October at the Joe Louis Arena as an example:
1. If you purchase a $47.50 general admission “paperless ticket,” you’re hit with a whopping $11.30 ticket charge, which is 24% of the ticket price (see above)!
2. If you purchase a $37.50 reserved seat in the “upper bowl,” you’ll pay a 29% ticket fee, or $11.05 (see above).
3. Tickets for the Eric Church concert are “paperless,” and for this show they are NON-TRANSFERABLE, and the ORIGINAL TICKET PURCHASER MUST ATTEND THE EVENT. In other words, you can NOT sell the ticket after it’s purchased, even for a price below face value. And if you get sick or can’t attend the concert, too bad, there’s NO way to transfer the ticket. You can’t even give it away. Moving towards “paperless ticketing” is Ticketmonster’s strategy of trying to kill the secondary market, which then creates a new set of anti-consumer, anti-fan outcomes by taking away a fan’s property rights to his or her ticket, and creating fan inconveniences, see next item.
4. If you attend the concert with your friends and you bought four tickets together, you MUST all enter the venue at the same time as a group with the person who purchased the ticket, who must present a photo I.D. and the credit card used to purchase the tickets.
Is there anything that can be done to challenge the evil Ticketmonster?
Well, comedian Louis C.K. is going up against both Ticketmonster and ticket scalpers by selling tickets directly on his website for $45 to his upcoming national tour, here’s from a long rambling message on his website:
“Tickets across the board, everywhere, are 45 dollars. That’s what you’ll actually pay. In every case, that will be less than anyone has actually paid to see me (after ticket charges) in about two years and in most cases it’s about half of what you paid last year.
Making my shows affordable has always been my goal but two things have always worked against that. High ticket charges and ticket re-sellers marking up the prices. Some ticketing services charge more than 40% over the ticket price and, ironically, the lower I’ve made my ticket prices, the more scalpers have bought them up, so the more fans have paid for a lot of my tickets.
By selling the tickets exclusively on my site, I’ve cut the ticket charges way down and absorbed them into the ticket price. To buy a ticket, you join NOTHING. Just use your credit card and buy the damn thing.
Also, you’ll see that if you try to sell the ticket anywhere for anything above the original price, we have the right to cancel your ticket (and refund your money). this is something I intend to enforce. There are some other rules you may find annoying but they are meant to prevent someone who has no intention of seeing the show from buying the ticket and just flipping it for twice the price from a thousand miles away.”
MP: It’s not clear yet how he’ll prevent tickets from being sold above face value, but at least Louis C.K. has cut out the ticket monopolist by selling tickets directly to his fans, and we can expect to see more of that in the future. Charging service fees of 20-30-40% to process a ticket order that is both paper-less and now almost cost-less using online technology seems to be clearly unsustainable. Hopefully, fans will start to re-direct their frustration over high ticket prices from secondary markets (which generate huge benefits for both ticket sellers and buyers) towards the evil monopolist – Ticketmonster!