Monday, February 12, 2007

To Fee Or Not To Fee? Apparently, That Is No Longer The Question

To Fee Or Not To Fee? Apparently, That Is No Longer The Question

Saturday's issue of The New York Times included a must-read story for anyone who has been confounded by the rampant misuse of ticketing fees tacked onto Broadway tickets. Cara Joy David's exposé decodes the burgeoning use of "restoration" or "facility" fees, as well as the escalating costs for service charges and even mailing of tickets.

Now I realize that it usually takes a human to place tickets into an envelope when tickets are mailed out, but does it really take the $4 Telecharge now charges for the "service"? Or how about that $2.50 fee for an e-mail version of the ticket? According to David, a Ticketmaster transaction illustrated in the story incurs an additional $11 in fees -- essentially 10% more than the actual price of the ticket.

While theatre impresario Daryl Roth may try to spin his way out of this by stating, "That is not what people complain about anymore. People are understanding of it,” I share the belief of Ticket Central's Mike Rafael, who responds that it's all about additional profits. I just wish they'd be honest about it, particularly as most top seats are seeing yet another increase in bottom-line ticket pricing.

All this leads me to invite you to vote in my latest SOB Poll that asks, "What is the top price you're willing to pay for a Broadway ticket?" You'll find the poll on the right-hand column of the site.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 13 February, 2007, Anonymous Chris Caggiano said...

The whole idea of E-mail delivery is to cut costs. Why, then, am I paying $2.50 for the privilege? Sure these guys have to make money. But I think you'd see a drastic change in the business model if the government interceded, abrogated the unfair monopoly, and allowed fair competition.

At 13 February, 2007, Anonymous Esther said...

When I got my tickets for Moon for the Misbegotten, I thought it was actually kind of funny that they told me there was a $1.25 or $1.50 facilities fee tacked on. I mean, I was already spending over $200 a ticket, so the extra amount seemed so paltry in comparison, it was almost like why even bother mentioning it! And I figured, these are beautiful old theaters that have to be preserved and that costs money.

As for the Ticketmaster and Telecharge fees, well, I guess I didn't think too much about those either. I read somewhere that more than half of the people who go to see Broadway shows are like me, tourists. You just figure everything in New York City is expensive. You're on vacation, and that's just part of the cost. Besides, it's not like you can haggle over the price!

But after reading this article, I guess I do feel taken advantage of a little bit! I mean, I didn't really think about it before, but these theaters are owned by big corporations. It's not like I'm helping to pay for the upkeep of some little building owned by the local historical society! And it does seem like the ticketing agencies are trying to tack on as many fees as they possibly can.

It also seems to me that the ticket-buying system is already unfair even before you add on all the fees because American Express and Visa card holders get first crack at the best seats.

I wonder how this compares with buying theater tickets in London, in terms of all the extra fees? Is the process simpler there?

At 13 February, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

It's worth noting that Ticketmaster is owned by IAC (InterActive Corp.), which also owns the following businesses:
Classic Custom Vacations
Interval International

It's interesting to read IAC's Code of Ethics ( where it talks about "honest and straightforward business dealings."

When IAC is entirely built on technology, isn't it rather specious for Ticketmaster's spokesperson Bonnie Poindexter to argue "The infrastructure that it takes to deliver a ticket electronically is much more costly than arranging it so someone is given a paper ticket"?

At 13 February, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Interesting to note that many London shows are migrating their ticketing to, which charges no transaction or booking fees for shows where they are the sole provider. states: "The combined forces of Really Useful Theatres ticketing, Ticketselect and Way Ahead are now called See. That makes us the biggest UK-owned ticket company and gives us the muscle of a big organisation, whilst holding all the values of a small one. It's this attitude that makes us different - we're passionate about events - and getting you to the ones that you want to see. We also care about great service and treating people as individuals.
We want the first name people think of when they want to go to a live event to be See. We are continually working on delivering the best service from enthusiastic, bright people, and extending the breadth of our product so you will be able to get tickets for anything you want from us."

At 15 February, 2007, Blogger StephenMosher said...

They're greedy. I try to only buy tickets at the box office--but I live here and have that luxury. I also try to see shows that are discounted in some, in any way. But sometimes Angela Lansbury comes to the Broadway stage and you have to buy tickets online and, then, not only would I pay the fees, I would sell a kidney on the black market. Just to see Angela Lansbury.

But usually, I will do anything I can to avoid putting money in the pockets of greedy ticket brokers.


At 15 February, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Ste, I admit to going for broke on the tickets for the upcoming production of Deuce with Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes. I wanted to be as close as possible to these living legends to pick up even the slightest nuance.


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