I'm a Jimmy Buffett fan. This won't come as a surprise for those of you that know me. I've been to over 30 concerts, most at "Great Woods" (aka Tweeter Center, aka Comcast Center in Mansifeld, Ma but my love of Buffett music and concerts has brought me to Jones Beach, NY and even Las Vegas a few times. So bottom line, I love the music, and seeing Buffett live, is just something everyone should experience, oh at least ten or twelve times.
So on Friday, I received an e-mail from Ticketmaster (aka TicketBastard) saying Jimmy Buffett tickets for Mansfield, MA were going on sale on Saturday February 13th. I checked the dates, and it was looking good. I decided to try and get tickets right when they went on sale. Just so you know, tickets are generally hard to come by. They sell out within minutes (one time it was 4 minutes) of going on sale. You have to be really lucky calling in or using the internet.
As luck would have it, come Saturday morning, I woke up way to early (for a Saturday) and got distracted doing this and that and completely forgot about buying the Buffett tickets. I didn't remember until this morning at 8:00am -- 24 hours after they went on sale. On a whim, I went to Ticket Bastard and punched in 2 tickets, best available. I got the spinning icon and waited, and waited, and lo and behold, what was presented to me? Two Tickets. Available right now, for me! The seats were in section 15, all the way to the end. Now, those who know Great Woods/Tweeter Center/Comcast Center will recognize that section 15 is one of the "newer" sections that they built on a section of the lawn. So basically these are uncovered seats on an area that used to be the lawn (so they're not particularly good). Still, a seat was a valuable thing at a Buffett concert and I was happy anyway.
Happy, until I saw the price. I went from happy to confused, to downright pissed off. I think this screenshot captures it perfectly:
Do you see this? Base price for a crappy seat is $128.50? And, that's when I saw... the bear... hmmm no, that's not what I meant; I meant that's when I saw the "convenience charge". Sitting there, glaring at me - bold, cocky, and utterly ridiculous. But it was there, nonetheless, saying to me, "yeah, we know you really want these tickets. You're going to pay me, this fee. If you don't, some other sucker will!"
So I ask, what is a convenience fee? I assume it's something imposed on you because you are using the internet vs. walking up to a Ticketmaster window (do these still even exist?) -- however anyone who knows anything about anything, will realize an automated system (i.e the website) is cheaper to run than hiring a bunch of people to actually sell tickets (whether in a shop or on the phone)! Furthermore, the convenience fee is per ticket - which means that even though I am doing one transaction, the fee is per ticket. So it doesn't make sense that the convenience fee is anything to do with anything, except putting more money in TicketBastards pockets. It's important to note that Ticketmaster charges different convenience fees, based on the popularity and venue of the concert. Check it out - some are $13.50 per ticket. Some have none, even. So this 'convenience fee' is an arbitrary fee that they use to just plain get more money out of their customers.
And now that TicketBastard & Live Nation have merged, it's not going to get any better.
Now, the $7.50 facility fee per ticket? Isn't the $128.50 enough to cover that? I know that Comcast paid millions to get their name on the billing, however, why should I have to pay for it?
And finally, who sets the ticket prices? I have to say that I feel that $128.50 is a bit greedy for that seat (or any seat, really). Surely Mr. Buffett makes plenty of money on record sales, merchandise, beer, tequila, restaurants, prepared foods, and kitchen appliances that he doesn't need to bilk his fans for every last cent they have when they see him live. We love the music, we love the scene. We'll even buy an overpriced $40 tee-shirt, drink lots of Landshark Lager, do shots of Margaritaville tequila, and proudly display all of our Buffett paraphernalia we bought in the gift shop after dining at the Margaritaville restaurants. Clearly, Jimmy, we are giving you our money. Do you need to charge so much for the tickets?
I'm speaking with my wallet. I'm not buying ticket master tickets. I'm not going to any shows at the Comcast center, and sorry Jimmy Buffett, but there'll be a few less "real" parrotheads in the audience this year... I don't want a 12 pound Nestle crunch for $25, I'm mad as hell, and I don't want to take it any more.
From "Trouble on the Horizon" that Jimmy wrote in 1997 -