More on Ticketfly’s service charges

Damon at Ticketfly sent a prompt response to my open letter about paying $8.75 in service charges on a $20 ticket. Here is Damon’s response, and my reply.

Greetings Josh,
Thank you for writing in and giving us the opportunity to answer your questions.

Ticketfly provides a service, for a fee. Ordering through Ticketfly couldn’t be easier and you can do it from the comfort of your home or office!

Tickets purchased on Ticketfly.com are typically subject to a per ticket convenience charge and a non-refundable per order processing fee. In many cases, delivery prices will also be owed.

As we do not collect any of the ticket face value, we use the fee to pay for hardware, employees, training and so on. Basically, the fee is what keeps us running. If you wish to avoid paying the service fee, please contact the venue or promoter of the event to see if they offer tickets directly. This also explains your comparison to companies like Amazon. They do, in fact almost every “retail” outlet, charge a fee. For them it’s called “Mark Up”. Because they own the product they are selling, that mark up is where they get the money to pay their employees, train their staff, pay their rent and so on.

Ticketfly does not claim to be the cheapest ticketing alternative, but we are striving to be the better ticketing alternative.

Please do let me know if you have any other questions.

Thank You
Damon @ Ticketfly

My reply:

Hi Damon,

Thanks for the prompt reply, and for explaining what the service fees pay for.

However, this doesn’t answer all of my questions.

True, Ticketfly does not claim to be the cheapest ticketing alternative. But as I quoted in my first email, the company clearly recognizes that people are frustrated with ticketing services (citing “downright absurd” practices) and makes claims to being different (“We plan to get rid of all those hidden fees”).

Given this:

1. Why does the site talk about killing hidden fees if you still charge those fees?
2. What are some examples of “downright absurd” ticketing practices that Ticketfly does not engage in?
3. What does being a “better ticketing alternative” mean if you charge similar fees as other ticketing companies — fees that are by far the most frustrating thing about buying tickets?

Further, you say that “Ticketfly provides a service, for a fee” — i.e., letting consumers buy tickets “from the comfort of your home or office.” But there are thousands upon thousands of e-commerce websites that provide the same service — letting consumers buy something online — without charging “service” or “convenience” fees on top of the product price. (Of course, in many cases it’s *cheaper* to buy something online versus by phone or in a store.) The vast majority of these sites also have various hardware and overhead costs, but still don’t tack on extra fees.

Given this,

4. How is Ticketfly’s business (or the ticketing business in general) so different from nearly all other online businesses that the company has to charge consumers this fee?

Thanks,
Josh

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6 responses to “More on Ticketfly’s service charges

  1. Hello Josh,
    I work for Brown Paper Tickets, so while I can comment on #4, the remainder of your questions will have to wait for another response from Damon from Ticketfly.
    The only difference between ticketing and retailing online is the product. This is obvious but ticketing only represents the authority to participate or view an event. You can’t eat a ticket (well, not in a literal sense) or play games on it. It’s costs of production are relatively low and handling is pretty simple. A ticketing provider is contracted to distribute and handle the ticketing transactions of a promoter, producer or venue. So, we don’t pay the talent, rent the facility, take out the trash or sell concessions. We sell the tickets.
    And in my experience the fees and convenience charges you were charged are a means to maximize profits at the expense of the producers and consumers of events. Let’s face it exorbitant or “downright absurd” fees literally represent a barrier to entry. That is changing.
    As far as alternatives go, we are a better choice of primary ticketing. We have a mission at Brown Paper Tickets, to fix the industry. We’re doing this by empowering the producers of events and facilitating the purchase process. What does THAT mean? Ninety-nine percent of our services are free for producers to use. If you need bulk tickets or to rent ticket scanners, we do need to charge for those but it’s much more affordable than our competitors. So anyone can ticket any event. To list an event and start selling tickets costs the producer nothing. This motivates them to do more events.
    To the ticket buyer we offer the lowest fees in the industry: Ninety-nine cents for tickets under $9.99 or less, or $1.99 if the ticket price is $10 and up. That’s it. That’s all we charge, 99 cents or $1.99. Not getting gouged for tickets makes it easier to buy more tickets to more of the events producers can ticket for free. See how sinister we are?
    We have been at this for 10 years and have gotten really good at ticketing events. And while the margins are small in event ticketing, shouldn’t they be?
    We provide better service (including 24/7 phone support and free mailing – USPS in the United States) at a very reasonable cost. In fact we LOWERED our service from from 99 cents + 2.5% of the purchase price last fall. Okay this posting is kind of marketing-y. But honestly, $8.75 for a $20 ticket? C’mon. I’m loathe to say it – but that’s just not fair and the industry needs to catch up.

  2. Yea, F Ticketfly. Im sick to my stomach of these rape-artists gouging young people that are trying to support local talent. Notify your venues about how you feel and provide them with links to cheaper alternatives.

  3. Who cares that Ticketfly is 30% or so cheaper than TM/TW when TM/TW fees are already insane? I no longer use any of the services that start with Ticket, they’re ridiculously overpriced for providing a service that has such minimal cost after the initial infrastructure has been set up. Can you imagine credit cards trying to charge these types of transaction fees? Yeah, ticket volume isn’t as high as CC transaction volume but still, 50% fees AND UP are absurd. I used to track them on ticketmastersucks.org but let my hosting lapse because I got too busy with other stuff.

    Anyway, Brown Paper Tickets has it right AND their customer service is infinitely better than the alternatives.

  4. I don’t know if this will be of interest to anyone, but ComLinker (as per my name) very similarly allows for creating and managing events, but we do not exactly take a percentage off of the ticket price. Our processing fee is 5% up to $0.99 per ticket (meaning that it never goes above $0.99 per ticket, no matter how high the cost, and if under $20, then it’s even less than $0.99) – We add this fee (similarly to TM) on to the ticket price (you can see how it works here: http://www.comlinker.com/howitworks).

    We use PayPal to process payments, so all in all, there’s our small processing fee mentioned above + PayPal’s usual processing fee (2.9% + $0.30). Those are the only 2 fees (there are no hidden ones).

    We’re just a startup, but our goal is to make it as feature-rich, but inexpensive as possible for anyone to use so that people are Happy using it, rather than feeling “forced” to use it. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at support@comlinker.com.

  5. Long story short, Ticketfly just tried to chard 28.75 in fees for 2 tickets to Vans Warped Tour 2014. The tickets were advertised at $25 each. 2 tickets then became $33.50 + 20.50 in “fees”. To recap…$50 worth of tickets, through ticketfly, comes to $87.50. That is a difference of exactly $37.50 in favor of ticketfly. $50 for two tickets, $37.50 in fees. Ticketfly charges 75% of the face value in fees. (Sidenote – if i print at home). I was around for the pearl jam-ticketmaster fight. I welcome ticketmaster to an abomination like this. ticketfly charges 75% in fees. I no longer want to see a band that is breaking up at the end of the year 2014 – Anberlin. I like them, but I hate ticketfly on principle more.

  6. Just did a search on Ticketfly because of the huge fees that don’t show up until checkout. This is for print-at-home tickets too for a show at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon. The solution is for places like the Aladdin to stop doing business with places like Ticketfly.