Those F’n Fees and Other Ticketing Woes

Let’s imagine I want to go to the store and buy a book…

I drive to the store, I go in, I find the book I want, I pick it up and take it to the cash register. The cashier asks me if I found everything all right. The item is scanned, the price is totaled, my credit card is swiped and I’m handed a bag with my book and receipt in it. I leave the store and go home to enjoy my purchase.

Now let’s imagine that my book buying experience is like the average ticket buying experience for many theatre patrons…

I drive to the store, I go in, I find the book I want. I then have to travel next door to the book buying store, this is just where the books are displayed. I head next door, the buying store looks nothing like the display store. After some searching, I find the book I want, a staff member picks books off the shelf he think I might also be interested in. I bring the book the cash register. I’m asked if I have an account with the store. I don’t. I give the cashier my name, address, email address, phone number, and favorite food. The cashier asks if I want to make a donation to the store to help it continue to provide books. I decline. The cashier asks whether I want to take the book home now, or have it delivered for an extra fee. I opt to take it now. I am asked how I want to pay, I hand over my credit card. I am then told that I will be charged an extra fee — half the cost of the book — for the convenience of being able to purchase the book with credit card at the store. I am handed a bag with book, receipt, thank you letter, request for a donation, and the store’s latest catalog. I leave the store to go home and bang my head against my purchase, good thing I bought a hardcover.

There are a ton of online ticketing systems out there, some organizations have their own, some use a ticketing company or other online transaction service. Many companies are sort of stuck with what they can afford, so Brown Paper Tickets or PayPal it is. Some can afford better and the experience is — occasionally — slightly easier (though I hear some better ones are starting to surface).

Of all the inconveniences present the most annoying is the CONVENIENCE FEE. What convenience? The convenience of being able to buy my ticket from the comfort of my bedroom and pajamas? Or the convenience that I’m giving you, Mr. Producing Organization, of knowing that you have advance ticket sales and can expect an audience next thursday night?

If the former, I can buy books from the comfort of my bedroom and pajamas for LESS than in the bookstore. Sometimes I have to pay for shipping. But I’ve also got Amazon Prime so usually not.

If the latter, well then Mr. Producing Organization, you’re just trying to nickel and dime your way to losing a customer.

Buying a ticket should be easy. It’s hard enough to try to get audiences to our theaters, why provide the extra hurdles?