Internet surcharge shocks U2 fans

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By Alice Neville, New Zealand Herald

Many U2 fans were shocked yesterday to find their "cheap" tickets came with an online surcharge of almost $20 a transaction.

Tickets to the Irish supergroup's November 25 show at Mt Smart Stadium went on sale in the morning, with advertised ticket prices ranging from $39.90 to $349.50. Tickets are still available.

The cheapness of the tickets was due to the tour's new stage structure - a raised platform will let punters see from all four sides and allow more people in. The concert promoters said that because more tickets could be sold, they could be cheaper.

But for those buying tickets online - the only option unless you could get to a ticket outlet such as Real Groovy (which charged a fee of $4 a ticket) - a surcharge of at least $19 was placed on top of the total transaction price.

So if you bought one of the $39.90 tickets, you would in fact be paying $58.90 if you wanted to pick it up from the venue or have it sent in the post. If you wanted to have it couriered, the surcharge rose to $23, and rural delivery was $24.50.

If you were buying more than one ticket in a single transaction, the surcharge remained the same.

TICKETEK

Although Ticketek is the company charging the fee, country manager Brendon Bainbridge said it was actually up to the concert promoters to decide to what extent they would cover costs or pass them on to fans.

"This particular concert didn't allow people to print tickets at home, which is usually the cheapest option," said Mr Bainbridge. "So there was only a limited number of options for customers to choose how to get their tickets."

The fee for picking up the tickets was the same as delivery because of staff costs, he said. "It's still a cost to Ticketek to have people available to hand out tickets."

It's also partly to do with the Commerce Commission's decision last year to allow retailers to pass credit card charges on to purchasers, he said.

"This concert also asked to pass on some of the costs associated with credit card purchases, something that's happening a lot more in live entertainment and a lot of other services since the law change," said Mr Bainbridge.

"They roll that into a transaction fee, so the normal transaction fee was greater. When U2 was last here four or five years ago, you wouldn't have seen fees quite as high because the promoter of the concert paid for some of those services out of the ticket price."

So why can't the surcharge be advertised as part of the ticket price? Again, it's up to the promoter, said Mr Bainbridge. "This is just how this promoter chose to do it."

Asked if he thought it was fair, Mr Bainbridge said people had a choice - if they didn't want to buy the tickets, they didn't have to. "It's just how things are, and as an agent I don't make those decisions. We have some clients who don't charge the customer anything - they absorb it all."

THE PROMOTERS

The promoters, the Australian-based Live Nation Global Touring and Michael Coppel Presents, are yet to respond to nzherald.co.nz's questions.

A quick search for tickets for other high-profile concerts in Auckland shows the practice of charging extra fees varies widely.

Tickets for the Bon Jovi concert at Mt Smart in December, which Ticketek is also selling, can be received as an email and printed for a $5 fee, picked up or posted for $8 or couriered for $12 per transaction.

For those going to the Blondie and The Pretenders gig at Vector Arena in December, tickets for which are being sold by Ticketmaster, tickets can be printed at home, picked up from the venue or posted at no extra charge. Having them couriered is just $4 a transaction.

The issue of ticket companies lumping concertgoers with additional fees is a global one. In 2008, British MPs passed a motion challenging Ticketmaster's practice of charging additional fees which were not advertised in the ticket price.

The motion called on Ticketmaster to "advertise clearly the additional prices they charge ... so that customers are not misled".

And just last week, the Los Angeles Times reported Ticketmaster in the United States was changing its policy, and while it would still charge additional fees, they would now be included as part of the advertised ticket price.

Concert charges

* U2 tickets purchased online have a surcharge of $19 on top of the ticket price, to pick up the ticket from the venue or have it sent in the post. The courier fee is $23 and rural delivery $24.50.

* Tickets for Bon Jovi can be sent by email and printed for $5, picked up or posted for $8 or couriered for $12.

* Blondie and The Pretenders tickets can be printed at home, picked up or posted at no extra charge. Couriered is $4 per transaction.

Copyright 2010, APN Holdings NZ Limited

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on September 3, 2010 9:57 PM.

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