Ticketmaster Says People Don't Like Service Fees Because We Don't Understand Them
from the I-don't-think-that's-it... dept
If you follow the music business, you probably already know about or follow Ticketmaster boss Irving Azoff’s Twitter feed, which he kicked off earlier this month by calling two different reporters “jerks,” and generally jousting with some of his critics. He went quiet for a bit, but caused a bit of a stir over the weekend by announcing (sort of) that Ticketmaster had “full disclosure pricing.” Considering just how much hatred there is towards Ticketmaster’s “service charges,” this certainly picked up some attention.
The only problem? While the tickets Azoff pointed to highlighted prices that included fees (amusingly, the fees on the cheapest ticket markup the official ticket price by a whopping 50%) some quickly discovered that this wasn’t, at all, what they expected. That’s because despite the implication that these prices now showed you full fees, some noticed another $6.50 fee tacked on at the end. After people pointed that out, Azoff again responded by claiming that Ticketmaster simply can’t show you all the fees until it knows how many tickets are being bought and what the shipping method is.
A few hours later, Ticketmaster launched a blog, where the first post tries to delve into this by suggesting that the problem isn’t the fees, it’s that you don’t understand the fees. Yeah, really. This is incredibly tone deaf on Ticketmaster’s part. People understand fees just fine. As Eliot Van Buskirk at Wired points out “each dollar that comes out of their wallets is identical.” No one cares that Ticketmaster has to pay various third parties, such as “promoters, venues, teams, artists” out of those fees.
Years ago, we discussed a nearly identical situation with phone bills, showing how people were incredibly annoyed with massive unexplained fees, and the telcos insisted they were necessary to “recoup costs.” But, as we pointed out, in most businesses you recoup the costs in the list price and don’t break out fees. Otherwise, we’d have lots of companies doing this sort of crap: Want a pizza pie? It’s just $3, but there’s a $3.50 “crust fee,” a $9.38 “oven fee,” a $4.50 “service fee,” and a $2.18 “cleanup fee.” Plus tax.
That, of course, is ridiculous and would piss people off — just as telco fees do and just as Ticketmaster’s fees do. If Ticketmaster wanted to make people happy it would stop telling people they need to be better educated about fees — a subject they don’t care about — and just offer straight up, all-in, pricing. If Ticketmaster has to pay a bit more to some third party because of this, well, why not figure out a way to bake that into the overall price. It’s called forecasting, and most other businesses predict their cost of goods sold using various forecasting methods, and it seems rather silly that Ticketmaster apparently cannot.