I’ve never been real comfortable with “Ticketmaster”. Whenever I use the site they have service fee upon service fee heaped upon the purchase. They’re kind of like the “Bank of America” of ticket sellers.
For example, last month I purchased tickets for a local play (Footloose) for myself, Michelle and 3 friends. The original ticket price was $15. Then Ticketmaster ladles on a $4.75 “Convenience Fee” per ticket (anybody know what the heck that really means?). Then there is the “Order Processing Charge” $3.65 (seems reasonable enough) and a “Ticketfast” charge of $1.75 (cost for them to allow me to print my own tickets).
This increases the final cost of the tickets by nearly 40% of the originally stated price.
So, recognizing and finally accepting that there really is no way to pay the advertised price for Ticketmaster tickets, and that they’ve got most venues around here locked up (does anybody know how to get tickets without going through Ticketmaster? I mean besides making an extra trip down to the venue to purchase them.). I picked up tickets for a show next month that were supposed to be $39.50 each. The “Convenience Fee” for these is $6.75 per ticket. Now they have a $2.00 “Total Building Facility Charge(s)” per ticket (?). I get a break on the Order Processing Charge as it is “only” $3.60 for the order, but they easily recoup that by increasing the “Ticketfast” charge to $2.50.
So my $39.50 tickets are now $51.30 each or 30% more than the advertised price.
“Fine”, I tell myself. Michelle will really enjoy the show and I really don’t have a lot of options.
This morning I get an email from Mondial Assistance thanking me for purchasing “Event Ticket Protector Insurance”.
At first I figured this was just a scam but then I saw that they had information that only Ticketmaster could have provided (date of the show, number of tickets). Further, when I checked on Ticketmaster’s site they *do* acknowledge the insurance scheme
but pretty much tell you that you need to deal with it on your own.
I know that I did *not* intentionally elect to take any insurance – 15% ($6 insurance vs. supposed original cost of ticket) is WAY too expensive for such protection and the risk that I’m going to miss a 2 hour performance is not really all that great (vs., say, the risk of missing a vacation package that spans a week or so).
But what is galling is the fact that I saw no mention at all of this insurance on Ticketmaster’s site when making the purchase. If there *was* it was not obvious and the little note at the top of the page saying “You have 2:15 to complete this form or you’ve gotta start over” would definitely impact your ability to carefully inspect your options.
As it is I haven’t seen the charge applied against my credit card yet, but this *is* the weekend. I’ve got a note on my calendar to check on Tuesday and cancel it. It’s a small amount of money but , gee whiz, don’t you just hate being taken for a ride?
*** Update February 17, 2009 ***
To their credit, Mondial’s VP of Marketing Communications contacted me after reading this blog and offered to initiate a refund of the premium for me. I had this on my “to do” list for the afternoon but I felt this was a nice gesture.
In his message he noted that:
The scenario you described was quite alarming to us and I want you to know that I have looked into it. I can assure you that we do not automatically charge people for the insurance. This type of “opt out” marketing practice is not used on Ticketmaster’s website. Each ticket purchaser is given the option to purchase or not purchase insurance.
I cannot say for sure how the option was presented to me, but I know I would not have opted in. And Ticketmaster’s reputation, being what it is, would leave me comfortable in the assumption that they were implementing an “opt out” strategy. After all, they are already selling tickets for more than the face price in the first place.
I see that the initial charge for the insurance premium has been applied against my charge card. I have already received confirmation that the insurance has been canceled. I’ll post to confirm that the reversal of charge has been applied as well.
** Updated February 22, 2009 **
I want to note that the credit for Mondial Assistance’s insurance premium showed up on my credit card account a couple of days ago. So they were true to their word on canceling and reimbursing me for the insurance.