19:15 PM

UPDATE: My Ticketmaster Mugging... And Collecting Ticketmaster Horror stories

Lots of great responses to my recent rant about being "mugged" by Ticketmaster. I had to pay $26.30 for a $13.50 ticket.

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 payment. Visa and Mastercard do that all day long for a 4 percent cut. But Ticketmaster takes nearly 100 per cent of the sales price.

Over on ZDNet, there are now more than 150 comments on the story I posted there.

Ticketmaster has been aggresively trying to tighten its control of live events by acquiring Live Nation, a deal currently under review by the Federal Trade Commission. If the deal were to through, it would provide Ticketmaster with control over Live Nation concerts, and tickets.

I've not had any response from Ticketmaster [TKTM] but I've had some great emails from plenty of people. 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.

A reader writes:

I agree with you on the fees but unfortunately, LiveNation is just as bad. They make the ticket slightly cheaper and then charge a parking fee with each ticket (not per order but individual ticket). I have skipped many shows because of these outrageous fees. I also recently learned that TM buys up good seats and then sells them to scalpers. I guess as long as you can go to a venue and pay $.50 less for your TM fee or there are more than two ticket sellers the government considers it ok. They don't realize that tickets for each venue or show only are sold through either TM or LiveNation. Besides the high 'fees', LiveNation has a higher fees for more expensive tickets. Does it really cost more to print a $60.00 than it does a $10.00 ticket?
I'm with you.

A reader writes:

I been trying to rally people concerning ticketmaster for the past five years--with no success. The details of the exclusive deals unfortunately are private. There may be some hope under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act -- but someone with deep pockets needs to enjoin ticketmaster.

A reader writes:

Try booking a ticket for a big act within minutes of the tickets going on sale. What I have found is that there is not a seat to be had anywhere near the stage.

I have found that TicketMaster provides a "service" which redirects one to another website where tickets are sold at four times the face value.

The last time I encountered this was in an attempt to get tickets to see the Flight of the Conchords in Atlanta. Arriving within minutes of the tickets going on sale I learned that no seats were available at all (which would be difficult to explain given the duration of the sale at that moment) but I was redirected to this other website where the near tickets were better than four times the face value price. Those people are crooks and obvious ones and I called them and told them as much.

A reader writes:

An excellent expose. I wish our consumer culture produced more exposes. And the comments about your blog added information and opinion that only amplfies what you report.
Thanks and best wishes.

A reader writes:

My firm has worked with the DOJ Antitrust division on behalf of clients in a number of matters over the past 5 years. I think your piece on Ticketmaster should be escalated to DOJ for review.

Here's a link to the DOJ field offices, including San Francisco.


A reader writes:

In my opinion, it is ONLY the artists that can do something about it. Ticketmaster and Live nation are forcing writers such as yourself to bring to the attention of the fan how badly we are getting raped which is hurting their only remaining source of revenue (live performance).

We believe that tools like ours can empower the fan and the artist by collecting the money IN ADVANCE which 'could' change the way things work now. We have the owner of spin magazine on our board who is doing what he can to help us disrupt what's happening now. It only takes one or two major artists to change things.

Michael Birnholz


A reader writes:

I just read your ZDNet blog about TicketMaster and I couldn't agree more. I bought a $53 ticket to see the live tour of "So You Think You Can Dance" in Charlotte, N.C., two years ago, and by the time TicketMaster was done it was $76! I'm sure it would be even more than that now. Some fee would be reasonable, but what they charge has gotten beyond both greedy and ridiculous, and I think they're RIPE for both FTC and DOJ investigations.

If you're starting a national campaign on this subject, COUNT ME IN!

A reader writes:

Tom, its the same in the UK as well. Ticketmaster seems to have just about cornered the market here. And similarly to what some of your correspondents report we too have the same experience of shows being 'sold out' within a couple of minutes of going on general sale, with the same redirection to a site that is a Ticketmaster subsidiary offering the very tickets that have just 'sold out' at sky high prices.
There has been some movement, after government intervention, regarding tickets for major sporting events but not so far for music events.
The excuse for the resale sites is that they offer a socially useful service for people who discover after buying their tickets that they cannot attend the concert. It does seem odd though that so many people discover another pressing engagement seconds after purchasing their tickets and so have to resell them at enormous profit.
Good luck with the campaign to do something about it in the States

A reader writes:

I first encountered Ticketmaster in the early Seventies. I had very little cash in those days and I don't recall that their fees were objectionable. Yet they provided a unique service with their high-tech (for the era) remote terminals and the people who were necessary to operate them. How else could you have easily bought an event ticket, miles away from the box office? Today that scenario is as obsolete as teletype machines, and online purchases are commonplace. As you indicate, the actual service Ticketmaster now renders is trivial, but the price is so high that I'm back to buying my tickets at the box office. If the unregulated "free market" was actually preserving ordinary competition, the fees for what Ticketmaster does would also be trivial and I would happily pay them.

You can find email and phone contact information for your local district branch of the Antitrust division of the FTC here: http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/offices2.htm

- - -

Please see:

"Why the Justice Department Must Block the Ticketmaster/LiveNation Deal" - http://bit.ly/4D8fG5

Mugged By Ticketmaster - The Outrageous Tax On Culture - SiliconValleyWatcher

When web services go bad: Ticketmaster's outrageous tax on culture - it harms society | Tom Foremski: IMHO | ZDNet.com