18:43 PM

Mugged By Ticketmaster - The Outrageous Tax On Culture

My daughter Sarah asked me to buy a ticket for her for a music event at a San Francisco venue. The ticket was $13.50 but I ended up feeling I'd been mugged by Ticketmaster.

I'm used to the outrageous fees that Ticketmaster levies but they snuck one up on me that was hidden. In addition to a facility charge of $1.50 and the convenience charge of $5.90, there was a hidden order processing fee of $5.40! Total cost was $26.30!

And it could easily have been more, I could have chosen to print out the ticket for a fee of $2! instead of the will call option. I could also have chosen insurance for my ticket, and other options that would have taken the price closer to $30. That's for a $13.50 ticket! Outrageous!

What value has Ticketmaster provided?!

Did Ticketmaster rehearse in a garage for years so that they could play live at large San Francisco venue? Did Ticketmaster hire the venue staff and deal with the serious logisitcs of thousands of people and the safety requirements?

No, Ticketmaster's added value was to serve up a web page and process a payemnt. Visa and Mastercard do that for 4 percent cut and people complain. But Ticketmaster takes nearly 100 per cent of the ticket price!

This is an over-the-top tax on culture from a greedy corporation that has bought monopoly rights to tens of thousands of venues.

This is a tax on culture, it cuts down on live performances and on people getting together. My daughter is 15 and she can afford a $13.50 ticket but when it gets inflated to $26.30, she can't and that means the artists lose out too.

Ticketmaster imposes an unfair tax on our culture by making it more expensive to attend cultural events. This is not good for our society.

If I can help it I will never buy from Ticketmaster again and I urge the FTC to block any of its acquisitions such as with Live Nation. And I urge others not to invest in Ticketmaster or any of the funds that invest in Ticketmaster [TKTM].

UPDATE: There are more than 150 comments on this story on ZDNet: When web services go bad: Ticketmaster's outrageous tax on culture - it harms society | Tom Foremski: IMHO | ZDNet.com

And here are some emails I've received from readers:

For example:

A reader writes:

When I bought five tickets for my family to see Aerosmith and the show got cancelled, Ticketmaster only refunded the face value of the tickets - not any of the extra rip-off fees. That added up to a hefty hunk of change for a show we never saw.

...Collecting Ticketmaster horror stories