Now I understand Pearl Jam’s pain

In recent years, I haven’t attended many concerts or other live shows, mostly because the ticket costs are prohibitive and partly because I live an hour from Philly (where most performances are in this area) and schlepping into the city, dealing with traffic and parking, and forking over a lot of bucks for a ticket usually seem like a bigger hassle than it’s worth to me.

But when Jan and I heard about the Walking with Dinosaurs show (oh, I’m sorry–it’s officially an “arena spectacular”) we knew we had to take our dinosaur-crazy daughter to see it. At first we thought, “Let’s get the cheap seats.” Well, it turns out that the cheap section comprises only the last four rows of a small portion of the arena. Okay then, how about the mid-priced seats? The only ones still available are next to the stage wings, which means that our vertically challenged five-year-old probably isn’t going to see squat from there. So we decided to throw down for the most expensive seats, which make up about 70% of the seats in the arena. Seriously.

Once that decision was made (after lots of agonizing and checking alternate dates, in case we could find decent less-expensive seat on another day–no such luck, alas), I then had to deal with Ticketmaster’s fees.

First, there’s a $10 “convenience charge”* per ticket. (My friend Rob, who attends many large-venue events each year, calls this the “bend over charge.”)

Then, I had to choose a delivery method. Interestingly, having hard-copy tickets mailed to me in 10-14 days will cost me nothing. But being able to print them immediately (which I did, because if there’s a screwup with my order I want to know about it as soon as possible) costs $2.50 per order.

And then, on the final screen, I saw that Ticketmaster assessed a $3.50 order processing fee. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

“Fuckers,” I muttered. And then I sighed and hit the “buy” button. Because if I want to take my kid to see this show, I have no choice but to do things Ticketmaster’s way.

Was it worth it?


Yeah. Totally.

Eddie Vedder, if you’re reading this, when you’re ready to take on Ticketmaster again, let me know. I’ll be in the front lines with you.


*Whose convenience, eh? I had to deal with captcha challenges every time I checked a different date, then had to accept Ticketmaster’s terms (which included letting them give my e-mail address to all sorts of advertisers) before I was even allowed to buy anything. Oh, you mean this whole setup is a lot more convenient for Ticketmaster? I see!

9 Responses to “Now I understand Pearl Jam’s pain”

  1. Deborahon 14 Jul 2010 at 5:31 am

    Ticketmaster is such a rip, but unfortunately if you really want to attend something they are in control. I still can’t believe they charge a fee to print tickets at home. That ain’t costing them a thing! Anyhoo, I’ve heard awesome things about this show and am so glad to hear it was totally worth all the hoops you had to jump through. Love the picture of Sylvia!

  2. Katie Jon 14 Jul 2010 at 7:55 am


  3. Imperatrixon 14 Jul 2010 at 9:21 am

    I feel your pain. Whenever I can, I try to buy tickets directly at the source (but of course, that only works if you live close enough to make it doable). But yeah, all those fees are the deciding factor (i.e., forget it, we aren’t going) for many many shows.

  4. One Tall Robon 14 Jul 2010 at 2:03 pm

    It could be worth a note or email to your Senator or Congresscritter urging a revisit of the DoJ’s approval (on Obama’s watch( of the Ticketmaster/Livenation merger. A couple of citations are and

    You can find more references with a lil googlification.

    It remains true that large venues in the Philly metro area are dominated by the Livenation/Ticketmaster behemoth. I’m loathe to sum up just how much they charge me to bend over in a typical year of concert-going.

    The worst part is that on a percentage basis, it’s unreal. My $29.50 Cheap Trick ticket, which is reasonable for me at face value, is suddenly $42.23, a 43% increase. What did that 43% surcharge buy me, exactly? Does it cost $12.73 per ticket to host the website and mail me my ticket? Yeah, right.

  5. Marshaon 14 Jul 2010 at 5:37 pm

    @Deborah: That show is on its way to Madison Square Garden next week, so you could catch it yourself… :)
    @Katie: EXACTLY!
    @Imperatrix: That’s one solution, but unfortunately many (most?) venues now sell only through Ticketmaster. Buying tickets directly from the venue was not an option for this show. Grrr.
    @One Tall Rob: Wow, that is one astonishing “convenience” charge. Yeah, I think my Congresscritters may hear from me about this–not least because I really want to write “Dear Congresscritter” as the salutation.

  6. Valon 15 Jul 2010 at 6:39 am

    One positive note: what an amazing picture of sylvia. I love the way you captured the moment.

  7. Marshaon 15 Jul 2010 at 9:25 pm

    @Val: Thanks! She loved the show (which was a surprise to her–she didn’t even know it existed, much less that we were going to see it, until it started), so that made it worth all the hassle.

  8. One Tall Robon 22 Jul 2010 at 2:14 pm

    From the You’d Be Proud of Me Dept.,

    Last night was Rush’s stop in the area at the Susquehanna Bank Center. My favorite area venue that is not named “Tower Theatre,” btw. I really do love the Susq, nee Tweet. Ticketing, of course, was administered by our pals at Livenation [spitting and giving the symbol of the Evil Eye while thus speaking. Seriously, isn’t “Livenation” usually written in the Dark Language of Mordor, which we will not utter here?]

    In addition to the usual Bend Over Fees during purchase, at the gate we were told “the artist requested that we not allow sealed bottled water into the venue. You can empty your sealed bottled water into this cup, though, and take it in that way.” Yeah, artist my arse.

    We grumbled but complied. What did we find Livenation personnel selling inside the venue? Sure, you guessed it . . . bottled water.

    Within the Tweet a Livenation dweeb attempted to offer me something from a pad of paper, either a survey to complete or an offer to enter a contest of something. Without even giving her a chance to get half of a sentence out, I ripped into her. “Livenation is EVIL! Y’all can go to hell!”

    I must’ve been wearing a beard last night, because I was One Angry Tall Rob From the Parallel Universe. I should’ve requested that she hand me her Agonizer.

    Livenation’s minions walked through the lawn area, shilling their magnificient bottled water. My cohort and I sailed into them, too, elaborating at some length on the peculiar deviant predilections of their employer. The best one kid could manage to retort was, “Hey, I work for them. I know they’re evil, OKAY?” Seriously. Direct quote.

    I’m about ready to start Fight Club Against Ticketbastage/Livenation, except that the first rule is I can’t talk about it. The only way I see to fight a monopoly that I’m unwilling to boycott is through acts of civil and uncivil disobedience.

    The concert was wonderful, though. The boys in Rush put on a better and better show each year.

  9. Marshaon 23 Jul 2010 at 3:16 pm

    @Rob: You are awesome. :)