We've all experienced it. You buy tickets online, and at checkout you get hit with a "convenience fee." (Aren't fees, by their very nature, inconvenient?) But Ticketmaster, part of the world's largest concert promoter after its merger with Live Nation earlier this year, has a reputation for taking its fees to breathtaking new heights. Drop $60 on tickets to a concert, and you may find the total cost has been hiked up to more than $80 thanks to a "processing fee."
If you've ever felt angry about these extra charges, you're not alone. In fact, if you purchased tickets using Ticketmaster after October 21, 1999 and before May 31, 2010, you may soon be entitled to a refund.
A class-action lawsuit filed back in 2003 against the online ticket company now appears to be making headway. Most every registered member of Ticketmaster received a court-ordered notice this morning that explained the merits of the case. According to the notice, the plaintiff's claims are divided between disputes over the order processing fee and the UPS delivery fee:
Plaintiffs assert that Ticketmaster’s Order Processing Fee is deceptive and leads consumers to believe that it represents Ticketmaster’s costs to process their orders, and that the Order Processing Fee is just a profit component for Ticketmaster, unrelated to the costs of processing the orders. Ticketmaster disputes these allegations.
Plaintiffs allege that Ticketmaster’s UPS Delivery option is deceptive because it leads consumers to believe the price they are paying Ticketmaster is a pass-through of the fees that UPS charges to Ticketmaster and that Ticketmaster substantially marks-up the amount it actually pays to UPS. Ticketmaster disputes these allegations.
The plaintiff's allegations don't come as a surprise, given how preposterous the site's fees are. Head to Ticketmaster right now and try to purchase tickets. Selecting the upcoming Usher concert? Apart from the standard ticket price, you can select from the following delivery options: $19.50 for two day delivery, $14.50 for three day deliver, or $25 for Saturday delivery -- that's for a bookmark-size piece of paper that weighs a mere ounce.
In addition, there's a separate order processing fee. In the case of Usher's tour, that'll cost you an extra $5.67--for "processing." Suddenly that $60 ticket costs $85.52. Again, for "processing."
The class action was filed in California -- but under California's False Advertising Law, the suit includes all U.S. residents who have purchased tickets between the above dates. And if the plaintiffs prevail on their claims? "They will ask the Court to award appropriate relief, including requiring Ticketmaster to repay to each Class member any money that Ticketmaster has made as a result of any conduct found to be illegal."
Naturally, according to the court notice, "Ticketmaster disputes that its conduct is illegal and also disputes that the Class members are entitled to any refunds." Nor does it look like the company will be nixing or reducing its inconvenient fees any time soon.