Monday, December 17, 2012

Tying Several Posts Together

Yes, I'm a rock star--temporarily, and in my own way, but a rock star nonetheless!  And in celebration of that new-found status, let me relate a story:

Back in 1982 or so, I had a ticket to see Fleetwood Mac in Sacramento.  Unfortunately the concert was put on hold because Stevie Nicks caught "a cold"--which, if I read the bios well enough, is code for "rehab"--and when the concert dates were rescheduled, Sacramento's was canceled.  A couple years later Christine McVie released a solo album, and I got to see her perform when she played at West Point's Eisenhower Hall.  A few years ago I saw Lindsey Buckingham perform on a solo tour, and just two summers ago I went to a Stevie Nicks concert.  At that point I'd seen all three of Fleetwood Mac's "lead" singers perform, but never as Fleetwood Mac.

Sunday, May 26th, at the MGM in Las Vegas, I get to see Fleetwood Mac perform (Christine doesn't tour anymore, but OK).  I'm very much looking forward to it!

In order to buy tickets I had to go through Ticketmaster, and you wouldn't believe the stupid fees they get away with as a veritable monopoly!  Yes, I want the tickets enough to pay the fees, but that doesn't mean that they aren't stupid fees.  I mean here's the list:
"convenience" fee:  $11.15 ea
order processing fee (I have to pay them to take my money?): $3.75
TicketFast delivery (ie, I get the privilege of printing my own tickets): $2.50

I get to see Fleetwood Mac! After a weekend in Las Vegas!


allen (in Michigan) said...

To get back to our previous thread, no one's putting a gun to your head so if the price is too high then don't buy the tickets.

If you're willing to pay the price, and you insist on whining about it, the only sympathy you'll get is from Max who's commiserating with you only because it's convenient to his political beliefs.

If you're concerned for the republic, Ticketmaster having waxed rich and powerful by providing a worthwhile service, then relax. Sooner or later the venue-owners and the talent will get tired of paying Ticketmaster its tith, come to the realization that Ticketmaster's technical advantage is getting rapidly easier and cheaper to duplicate, and refuse to sign the sweet agreements that Ticketmaster offers them when they come up for renewal.

Then it's sic transit gloria Ticketmaster.

Just like every other monopoly that doesn't have government's coercive power to back it up and, interestingly, every monopoly that did have government power to back it up.

maxutils said...

Ticketmaster maintains their control by offering enough back to the venues in kickbacks so that the venues really have no incentive to offer a chance to a competitor. Don't hold your breath . .. by the way Darren, those fees aren't meaningful unless we know the price of the ticketr . . . I would think a 10-15% fee plus a nominal handling charge would be reasonable.

W.R. Chandler said...

Too bad they won't redeem your ticket from '82. It seems to me that they owe you a concert!

Darren said...

Max, I disagree. What "convenience" am I getting if I don't actually receive the tickets? I have to pay extra to receive them? It would be "convenient" if they had one stupid fee and not 3.

Mr. Chandler, I got my money refunded in '82--but a few years ago the friend I was going to go with said she still had *her* ticket.

maxutils said...

I agree with the three fees being stupid being broken down . . .but, some of those are per order, and some per ticket. My belief is they will still mail them to you for free.

Darren said...

Why do they charge me for printing them myself???

maxutils said...

THAT I have no answer for. . . save, that they CAN. Where else are you going to go?

allen (in Michigan) said...

Ticketmaster maintains their control by offering enough back to the venues in kickbacks so that the venues really have no incentive to offer a chance to a competitor.

And your point then is that it'd be ever so nice of Ticketmaster to reduce their kickbacks so that the venue-owners have an incentive to offer a chance to competitor? And what will those competitors do to win the business of the venue-owners?

They'll offer bigger kickbacks then Ticketmaster's offering of course. What else do they have to offer?

Oh, and your feelings on a reasonable fee are immaterial. Ticketmaster has no obligation to you other then to deliver the contracted-for goods. That'd be the tickets you purchased under no observable duress.

Ticketmaster's obligation is to its owners/shareholders and that obligation's to maximize their return on investment.

By the way, does your antipathy towards monopolies extend to patents, copyrights and trademarks?

maxutils said...

The difference would be that multiple companies could sell tickets for the same shows at the same venue. This was th the system that existed in to the late 80s . . . I'm not sure what the two major competitors were outside of California, but we had BASS tickets and Ticketron -- both drew from the same pool of tickets, and were forced to compete for customers. Service charges were almost always right around 10% of the ticket's value. Now that ticketmaster has contracts which forbid such competition, service charges run three to four times that much -- and I'm guessing production costs have not increased that much. I don't mind patents, copyrights, and trademarks for two reasons: first, they serve a purpose-- to promote innovation and creative product and second, that government has specifically decided that they are exceptions to the monopoly rule BECAUSE they serve a purpose. The difference with ticketmaster is that their contracts are in direct violation of federal law . . . tying contracts are one of the four main provisions of the Clayton Act. Ideally, if multiple providers were allowed to sell tickets, the venue would be the determiner of how much it wanted for each ticket . . . the venue's primary sources of revenue are its share of the ticket price, and the concessions and parking at the event. The only reason the ticketmaster kickback is enough to matter to them is that it covers every single event . . .