Find the Cost of Convenience

I hate TicketMaster with an unbridled passion that sometimes scares my friends. I’ve contemplated all kinds of ways to dethrone the tyrants. But the only way that really makes sense is to just stop going to shows where tickets are only sold via TicketMaster, and to go to the actual box office for venues that still have one.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of live Rock and Roll. It is our Right, it is our Duty, to throw off TicketMaster, and to provide a new System of purchasing tickets.

I’m not sure how the new system should work, but Sunday morning, sitting on the cement outside the Chicago Theater waiting for the box office to open so I could go see Beck and the Flaming Lips, I started to question the value of my principles.

It wasn’t the waiting; I had my trusty copy of the Chicago Reader, a couple of donuts, and Jolie’s company to help pass the time. It wasn’t even the students from the Art Institute with their 19-year-old, know-it-all conversations and their Kafka. “I can’t imagine Beck playing in an opera house.” (I can remember being annoying like that, and I hereby apologize to anyone who might have overheard me talking out loud when I was in college.) Besides, they cut in line behind me; had they cut in line in front of me, I wouldn’t have been as friendly as the dreadlocked hippie a few people back who gave them a little shit but didn’t actually get anywhere. “I’m sure they have more than twenty tickets,” condescended the frog-voiced student, revealing how little he knew about the mechanics of popular ticket sales in the internet age.

As it turned out, the show had sold out before the first person in line made it from the doors to the ticket booth. Fortunately for us, the guy at the box office pulled enough tickets for those of us waiting in line. At least enough for me and my posse. Like I could give a fuck about all the suckers behind me, ha ha. That’s the nature of this game, tough guy. If I’m going to drag my ass out of bed after drinking all night in the newly opened Blue Line Club Car, and make it in line ahead of the crackheaded pawns of the ticket brokers (legal scalpers in Illinois, ticket brokers hire homeless people to wait in line for big shows), then I sure as hell deserve these god damned tickets.

But waiting in line, with my ass getting sorer and sorer from sitting on the piss-stained cement, I started feeling like a stooge for not just ordering my tickets during the internet-only pre-sale on Friday. That’s what grown-ups do, I thought to myself, looking around at all the dopey kids around me. That’s even what real fans do, right?

I asked the girl in the checkered Vans sitting next to me why she didn’t just order the tickets by phone or on the internet. “I just live right there,” she said. When she asked me the same question, I mumbled something about my intense aversion to TicketMaster. “So it’s kind of political?” Yeah, I guess it is, but is this a worthy political stance? Especially now when there are very real political issues that are worth taking a stand on, like John Ashcroft’s “War on Freedom” and George W’s “War to Redeem My Father’s Soiled Name and Re-Election for Me If My Timing’s Right.”

I don’t know. But here’s the math: I paid $148 for four tickets, out the door. That’s $35 each with a $2 restoration charge for the ornate Chicago Theater, a surcharge I am more than happy to pay. That’s a lot of money, but here’s what I would have paid had I ordered the tickets through TicketSatan’s internet-only pre-sale on Friday:

Tix Qty. Type Face Value Convenience Charge Building Facility Charge Tax Total
each G 35.00 7.25 2.00 0.22 44.47
Subtotal:
4 140.00 29.00 8.00 0.88 177.88
Order Processing: 3.30
Total Charge: 181.18

So I saved $33.18. I spent about an hour waiting in line, and the commute takes me about 40 minutes each way. But I had some other things to do downtown, so we don’t necessarily have to count the commute. Still though. Was it worth it? I’m not so sure. But at least I didn’t give any of my money to the Evildoers.

13 thoughts on “Find the Cost of Convenience”

  1. Did you include the mailing charges, Jake?

    Everyone I know has a Ticketmaster horror story. Another thing that irritates me is the venue that DOES have an alternative, inexpensive web vendor, (but no box office) but because the show is a JAM production, I have to prepurchase through TM.

    In addition to Ticketmaster, everyone should boycott the brokers.

    [should be a great show]

  2. Thank you Jake, for not giving in! What we all fail to realize is that it’s not about the fucking money. Sure, the $33.18 Ticketbastard tax (at “only” a 22% rate, actually quite low by their standards) is a bitch to pay, but the real problem with Ticketmaster is that they have created a bad system that harms the fans. It’s hard to even get tickets most of the time because of this system. Before Ticketmaster monopolized and nationalized ticket sales, ticket prices were lower and tickets were easier to get for local fans. I wouldn’t mind paying a convenience fee if it actually came with any convenience, but the only convenience it provides is a way for all the best tickets to get siphoned off immediately regardless of where I’m standing in line. It’s fucking ridiculous that the venue in which an event is being held can’t even get more than a handful of tickets to sell at its own box office.

  3. This reminds me of my wonderful experience trying to see Bruce Springsteen in Nashville a couple years back. It was that super-popular, return from retirement, E-Street Band, back to save the rock n’ roll ’cause U2 ain’t doin’ it, tour of 2000.

    Seeing that it was Bruce, I figured that then might be the best time to practice some oldschool fanboy dedication and camp out for tickets. I lived in Chattanooga, TN at the time, so I left Friday afternoon to make the 2 hour+ drive to the Rhyman Auditorium in downtown Nashville for the ticket sale on Saturday morning. Upon arriving at the venue around 8:00pm, in the midst of a torrential downpour, my girlfriend and I stood horrified and dismayed at the 8 1/2″ x 11″ printouts posted on the doors announcing,

    “Tickets for Bruce Springsteen will go on sale Saturday, Oct. xx at 9:00 AM at all ticketmaster locations.”

    My ass could have stayed at home and ordering tickets on the freakin’ internet! Of course, my initial reaction was that of stupidity and foolishness. That quickly subsided into some false nostalgia of an era that I sadly never experienced myself. Ticketmaster, and the like, have robbed us (not only of our wallets), but also of something of the rock n’ roll experience. The dedication to a band or an artist, enough to fight the elements and concrete bed, shouldbe worth something. What kind of world do we live in where a kid can camp out of Star Wars and not the Boss?

    I still can’t get over the fact that I would have been better off getting tickets in front of my computer at home, than actually going to all the trouble i did. Sure, we showed up at a tower records the following morning, purchased a couple tickets (very last floor section) got our names in the newspaper for being the boobs that drove 2 hours for shitty tickets, and headed home.

    The show was still amazing. Ticketmaster had no ability to ruin that.

  4. Hey-o, my new town of Seattle seems to have an alternative to Ticketmaster. I’m in the midst of researching it and it seems that all the small venues in town seem to go through this service instead… I’m not sure of how it works and will research it once I have the appropriate funds to even purchase a ticket.

    Another thought, we all make fun of Deadheads but their devotion to seeing every show and not having the ability to be at the box offices in each city’s venue caused the band to start their random mail order system where the band had a certain batch of tickets for each and every show they played that the devoted fans would send in mail orders for and hope for the best when their envelope arrived. Is it right to expect some of our favorite bands afford us this opportunity as well? Not to mention, a lot of the tickets were apparently adorned with a lot of interesting artwork that leads to a more collectible feel for your stub as opposed to a hundred stubs that all look the same except for a little type face in the middle that distiguishes it as the ticket for that specific band…

  5. agh, getting tickets is such a crapshoot.

    there’s a grave need for ticketbuying reform.

    bought tickets from an actual venue for the first time in forever this sunday and it actually (beyond my hangover) went smoothly! online i may not have fared so well. who knows, all i know is i hate ticketbastard and there is no excuse for their greed.

  6. Go Team!

    Honestly I don’t have an answer as to how to topple ticketmeister. I can only say that I attend maybe 1-2 shows a year where they come into play, and usually I’m going to those shows to see some band out of nostalgia’s sake.

    I’d much rather go see Jucifer at Cactus Club, or Mates of State at The Globe, than see a show where I have to pay over $20, wait for an enternity on the phone, or on a sidewalk, and then have to put up with the *#$*@[email protected]% of frat/sorority(sp?) people.

    Tangential:

    I’ve gone to 4 ticketmaster shows in 3 years. Paul Simon (good), Rush (Very good or maybe that’s nostalgia, incidentally isn’t this band and Von Der Graaf responsible for math rock?), Jane’s Addiction (a total joke, $50 and a 1 1/2 hour show), Flaming Lips with Modest Mouse, De La Soul and some frat boy headliner named Cake.

    That last show was quite possibly the worst event of the year. Everyone went through the motions except the Lips, and even that seemed a bit pretentious. Also $50 and that is a total joke considering the headliner, and a has-been hip-hop band. Not to mention the fact that I drove down to the venue from Milwaukee at 5:00. The venue stated Mouse would start at 7 but when I got there at 10 min after 7 I saw all of 3 songs. What the F?? with that?????

  7. I believe Ticketmaster is now a subsidiary of Clear Channel…. I ask you, who is the real axis of evil? Seriously, Ticketmaster is a bonafide monopoly now. If the feds won’t take action (and they already didn’t back in the early 90’s) ain’t nothin’ going to change, simply because Ticketmaster has no viable competition.

  8. admirable stance and admirable action Jake. Vote with your dollars. also agree with your points sab and jaime. I hope what Proptronics is finding in Seattle comes true for the rest of the country… a little more competition, from regional companies… bass tickets out west, tickets plus around here in the midwest, etc.

    One point- Nationalizing tickets isn’t so bad if it allows country folk to get into concerts they wouldn’t ordinarily have been able to attend. A lot of artists appeal to the heartland, the country folk.

    Also agree with Dan that, if you go to the right shows, they don’t even USE ticketmaster! So obviously you aren’t going to the right shows (wink).

  9. Well written Jake. It seems we’ve all had previous run-ins with Ticketmaster. How ironic that they call it a “convenience” charge. I also live in Seattle and one of the biggest local venues (Graceland) sells tickets at about 4 local record stores for cash only- great. This venue has small national touring groups (ie Interpol)only though. There is a larger problem here and that’s the escalating prices of the tickets themselves. Note, there’s a very interesting article at:

    http://www.fortune.com/indexw.jhtml?channel=artcol.jhtml&doc_id=209509

    Funny that The Rolling Stones Inc justify their high prices because ticket resellers get more on ebay… Poor Mick. -Shamus

  10. i’d be interested in seeing a follow-up piece on some the alternative ticketing places out there – which ones are decent and which ones aren’t much better….Virtuous isn’t too bad, I believe they only charge a $1 per ticket fee.

  11. Hey I am with you 100%. I know ticket master scalpes there own tickets. Let me tell you my story and if anyoen is ready down or want to start up a lawsuit against these mother fuckers please hit me at [email protected]. Check i made a purchase on there website for the Roc the Mic tour. Made the purchase with my credit card and waited for my tickets. I was moving and before they sent my tickets I made the change to the correct address. Now they made the change in there system and told me i will have my tickets. I waited and waited but did not see the tickets. I called them like 3 weeks after a friend of mine received her tickets. I asked if they sent my tickets, and politly I was told yes sir your tickets were sent 5/6/03. “well i do not have my tickets what address do you have?” 133 Kenville rd Apt D, “well i stay at apt B. They apologize to me and say we will void those tickets and send vouchers to the event and all you have to do is call at least 48 hours of the event to verify that your tickets are there and you will be there to pick them up. I had to bring my credit cared, ID and confrimation number. Once I get there i was first told that my credit card was rejected, when my bank had already verified that the payment was made. I was treated rudley by the fuckin window bitch and when i called the customer service number. This bitch told me a tottaly different story from the other whore. Check this, this bitch tells me that i never called ticketmaster at 48 hours of the event and that they voided my tickets from me! I tell the hoe yes I did and what the hell are u talking about. To make a long story short ticket master basically used me to hold two tickets which were damn good seats and voided them from me gave me back my money so they can sell those tickets the day of the event at a much higher price. Each time i called these fuckin people each rep gave me a different story as to why my tickets were voided. So If anyone is serious about boycotting, making a law suit against ticket master. Im all for it just email me or whatever and we can do this if we all join together and take care of this fucking problem, we all wont be on this damn message board crying on def ears and not taking care of business. I have everything documented my phone calls and all of you guys to help bring this mother fucking place down. Im sure im not the only person who has had this happened to them. They have so many other ways in making extra money of the artist and of the artist fans its not even funny.Holla at me [email protected]

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