Ticketmaster And Kelly Clarkson Cost You $3.75

Reader Shaun writes:

My wife wanted to go to an upcoming Kelly Clarkson concert and we bought tickets. Clarkson has now cancelled the concert and Ticketmaster is givinga refund; however, they won’t refund the processing fee. This seems ridiculous to me, they should be refunding the whole amount. Is there any grounds for them to keep my processing fee? Thanks!

Shaun

Sorry, Shaun. Ticketmaster’s processing fees are non-refundable, per their purchase policy. It seems you’ve stumbled upon one of policies that Ticketmaster is famously hated for. Sadly, you can’t take your business elsewhere, because Ticketmaster has licensing agreements with most of the large concert venues in the US.

Read Ticketmaster’s letter to Shaun inside.

Ticketmaster writes:
From: “Notification” Reply-To: “RightNowIncomingMail” Subject: Ticketmaster Alert for Kelly Clarkson at Honda Center Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 09:41:19 -0500

Hello, this is Ticketmaster Customer Service with an important notice regarding your order for Kelly Clarkson at Honda Center on Thursday, July 19, 2007. Kelly Clarkson has announced that she will not be touring this summer. Tickets for the tour can be refunded at the point of purchase.

If you purchased tickets via Ticketmaster.com or by phone, your credit card will automatically be credited the ticket price and convenience charges, and should post to your account within 7 to 10 business days. Please note, the $3.75 per order processing fee and any ticketFast or UPS delivery charges are non-refundable.

If you purchased additional tickets at a Ticketmaster retail location or the Box Office, please return your tickets to that location for your refund.

As future concert dates become available, current ticket holders will be invited via email, mail, or phone notification to purchase tickets through an exclusive presale, which will take place prior to the general on sale date for each concert.

If you have any questions, please contact us online at:

http://www.ticketmaster.com/h/asktm.html

Thank you for using Ticketmaster where we really appreciate the opportunity to do business with you!

—MEGHANN MARCO

Purchase Policy [Ticketmaster]
Ticketmaster [Wikipedia]
(Photo: CST)

Comments

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  1. sncreducer says:

    So, uh, why is it that the government was willing to spend millions battling Microsoft in court to break up their monopoly, but won’t do a damn thing about Ticketmaster? Do they donate that much to political campaigns?

  2. BobChin says:

    It never cease to amaze me how some some companies will “rape and pillage” it’s customers. Ticketmaster is the epitome of dog doo customer service. Can’t get tickets at “on-Sale” times because their servers can’t handle the traffic, can’t get a human to talk to, and you pay an additional $10-$15 per ticket for their “convenience and handling fees…
    But like Meghann states.. There’s no other source for those $100 plus tickets for a concert you’d like to enjoy with your family at.

  3. JKinNYC says:

    Class action suit against Clarkson?

    Or maybe this is god’s punishment for buying Kelly Clarkson tickets.

  4. carrienation says:

    I spent most of my college years working for Ticketmaster. I don’t usually have a burning desire to defend them but as far as the processing fee, they’ve done their part whether the concert goes on or not. And, in order to “process” all of the returned tickets, Ticketmaster is actually doing (almost) twice the work.

    Besides, they are very explicit that these charges are non-refundable at every step of the purchasing process. Caveat emptor, wifey!

    (This is my first post and I have shown uncharacteristic restraint in not commenting on the wife’s taste in music.)

  5. Jon Mason says:

    Seriously, how is this not illegal? Why, I’ll just start selling $100 laptops with a $500 non-refundable processing fee. What? You got a brick in the mail instead of the laptop – OK, I’ll refund the cost of the laptop, but unfortunately the processing fee is non-refundable, sorry.

  6. Jon Mason says:

    Oh, and as I have been posting so many negative comments recently – THIS is the kind of story Consumerist should be featuring. An actual tale of how a corporation’s policy is ridiculous, and alerting consumers to it so they can be better informed about it.

  7. tedyc03 says:

    He might be able to get his processing fee back through a loophole in credit card laws.

    IANAL but it is my understanding that if you purchase something with a credit card, and do not get whatever it was that you purchased (in this case a concert), you’re not responsible for the charges. He should file a complaint with his credit card company, and if Ticketmaster refuses to refund the money to him, his credit card company will do so.

    For example, Citibank’s notice says “If you have a problem with the quality of goods or services that you purchased with a credit card, and you have tried in good faith to correct the problem with the merchant, you may not have to pay the remaining amount due on the goods or services. You have this protection only when the purchase price is more than $50 and the purchase is made in your home state or within 100 miles of your mailing address. (If we own or operate the merchant, or if we mailed you the advertisement for the property or services, all purchases are covered regardless of amount or location of purchase.)”

    Might not work but it’s worth a shot.

  8. klamer says:

    You got away with only losing the processing fee in exchange for not having to go to a Kelly Clarkson concert. Consider yourself lucky as that’s worth so much more.

  9. Skiffer says:

    @masonreloaded: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this.

    It does cost Ticketmaster money to process the ticket, as well as process the refunds. And they’re doing exactly what they told you they’d do – process the ticket sale.

    Now, does it cost the $7.50+ per ticket that I always end up paying Ticketmaster? That’s another question entirely

  10. bravo369 says:

    I found this on cnn.com. Looks like she cancelled because of slow tickets sales. I guess not a lot of people are going to be affected by this. Anyway, I agree that the entire thing should be refunded. Clarkson gets no money because there’s no tour. You have no concert to go to but are out 3.75. Ticketmaster ends up with 3.75 multiplied by the thousands of people that bought tickets. Doesn’t seem quite fair to me. It would be interesting to see what happens if you do get your credit card company to stop payment on the 3.75.

  11. joopiter says:

    Hmm, interesting. Two years ago I had gone down to Philly to visit my college roommate and see a concert. Concert ended up being cancelled the day of the show because a violent storm blew through and basically wrecked the stage. We got our money back for the tickets, including the Ticketmaster fees, right off the bat. Wonder what the difference is – Act of God vs. Artist Isn’t Selling Enough Damn Tickets?

  12. QuirkyRachel says:

    Yeah. A lot of the theaters in Chicago have a nice alliance, which makes it easy to find out what’s going on. But unless you want to get tickets at the theaters themselves, you have to use ticketmaster. blech.

  13. dwarf74 says:

    I dunno, am I the only one who doesn’t really see much wrongdoing here by Ticketmaster. TM did exactly what you paid them for – processed the ticket transaction, booked seats, got you printed tickets, etc. It’s a fee for processing the ticket, not part of the ticket’s price. You just happen to be paying them together.

    I’ll leave aside questions of whether or not the fees are exorbitant and whatnot. Still, if you want your $3.25 back, I’d contact the people actually holding the concert rather than the middleman…

  14. Soultrance says:

    Just one of many reasons why Ticketmaster s

  15. winnabago says:

    @Skiffer:

    They charge you a convenience fee, shipping fee, and a processing fee per order. In this case, they refunded the first two (I think), but are balking on the last. I don’t see how a ticket is any different than any other item on the planet for sale, in that they get money for providing nothing. It costs Target money to take a return, but you don’t see them doing this.

    What next? Printing fee, telephone answering fee, bandwidth fee, trademark registration fee…

  16. xamarshahx says:

    These damn processing fees should be passed onto the event holders not the consumers. Even buying damn IMAX tickets online has like a 35% processing fee online, try buying like 4 tickets for a family and its an extra 18 bucks or so. Any company that has competition would have immediately refunded that fee for everyone without questions or hassle.

  17. ShadowFalls says:

    @tedyc03:

    Unfortunately, since you agreed to the terms of it being non-refundable, it is as such. Some won’t even cover services, in which a “processing fee” would be listed under.

  18. Soultrance says:

    Sorry, that was supposed to say:

    “Just one of many reasons why ticketmaster sucks. The fact that there is no alternative to buying concert tickets is also a joke, especially since they are no doubt greatly responsible for the stupidly high price for most concert tickets now a days.”

  19. Wormfather says:

    @Skiffer: I agree, if you’re mad at someone, be mad at the performer. The processing fee is just that, you cant unprocess the order, so, you cant refund it.

    If somehow ticketmaster screwed up, then yeah, you should get it back, but nope, it’s the performer.

    But still, ticket master does have a psudo monopoly going on and I’m getting sick of it. Not the monopoly as much as the idea that the govenment doesnt like them yet lets some stand through loopholes (why the hell cant whole foods buy wild oats out again?)

  20. fredmertz says:

    Although I don’t think there is anything wrong with not refunding a fee that is clearly labeled non-refundable, I think the better story is that Ticketmaster charges that same processing fee AND AN EXTRA DOLLAR to send you the tickets via e-mail. They charge an extra dollar to customers who agree to make fulfillment much cheaper, when by any reasonable standard, they should take a buck or two off your charge.

  21. MakGeek says:

    @Skiffer
    I believe then Kelly Clarkson or her Management company should foot the bill for processing fees for canceling the concert, why does she get away with no penalty?

  22. zentec says:

    Maybe a lawyer can answer the question that if Clarkston canceled the show and caused damage in the name of $3.75 per ticket, why isn’t Clakston liable for said damages?

    I’d write to the promoter and ask for the fee since *they* killed their shows as to avoid financial loss.

  23. bedofnails says:

    And here I thought being a Kelly Clarkson fan would cost you your soul, but instead just $3.75.

    Interesting.

  24. bedofnails says:

    @winnabago:

    Go to the venue to buy the tickets and avoid many of those fees.

  25. tomok97 says:

    Ticketmaster has a very good ticketing system. I work at a non-TM venue and the difference between the systems is quite evident. Part of the fee is was enables them to refund tickets on show cancellations so quickly and easily. If you bought the tickets online or through TM phone system, you probably had your money back before you even knew the show was cancelled. There was no driving somewhere or mailing tickets in and waiting for a refund.

    That being said, yes, the fees are too high. And many venues are now starting to charge the ticketing fees at the box office. That’s what irritates me the most. If the venue charges the “fees” then it’s not a fee…it’s the “price” and should be advertised accordingly.

  26. MeOhMy says:

    Maybe you could try asking Clarkson’s label or the concert promoter to make you whole. Maybe threaten to rip the CD and play it on your MP3 player…that’ll fix their wagon for sure.

  27. hollerhither says:

    Kathy Griffin did the same thing to me for an upcoming show (why, Kathy, why??) and I was highly annoyed at being out the $7, but then I realized that I help *run* an online subscription business. We outsource (not offshore) credit card processing, and when you add bandwith, secure site, etc., to the credit card bank charges, we calculate each sub as costing about $3.

    NOW, Ticketmaster is a much larger entity than my unnamed company, they’re supporting a one-time transaction, and I’m sure due to volume their costs are less per customer…wait a second, I’m annoyed again. Bastards.

  28. tomok97 says:

    Give Kelly Clarkson credit for admitting ticket sales were slow. How many artists in that situation would pretend to be sick or claim a family emergency. Almost every tour that gets cancelled is due to low ticket sales. She’s the first artist that I’ve seen actually admit it.

  29. Starfury says:

    I don’t go to concerts because:

    1. Cost of the performance is too high
    2. Parking costs are excessive
    3. Ticket fees/etc are too much

    Also, there isn’t anyone worth paying to see..except for Wierd Al.

  30. davebg5 says:

    Disputing the charges w/your credit card company is definitely the way to go…that’s how I beat Ticketmaster once.

    I had tix to a concert in NYC that was set to start at 9PM. I worked in NYC, but lived in NJ. Since I was seeing the show w/my roommate I went home after work w/the intention of grabbing some dinner, showering and heading back into the city. When I got home I had a voice mail from ticketmaster that had been left around 5PM that day informing me that the show had been moved from a 9PM start to 7PM. Apparently the venue had been double-booked.

    My roommate and I rushed into NYC only to make it in time for the last song of the show. Ticketmaster didn’t want to refund my purchase. Thankfully, AMEX didn’t agree with them.

  31. Ass_Cobra says:

    Ticketmaster actually fucked me so solidly that I almost want to never use them again, but then the monopoly rears its ugly head.

    I had ordered tickets for back to back shows in different cities. I waited and waited and waited and a week before the show I hadn’t received my tickets. I call, they say they will be sent immediately. I call back three days in advance of the show and they tell me they haven’t been sent, but I can just pick them up at will call. Well there’s a problem with that, I inform them that I’m not able to make it to the out of town show to pick up my tickets at will call and since I don’t have them, and no one can pick them up without my credit card I can’t sell them. They tell me tough luck and that scalping is illegal. That really pissed me off as I wasn’t anticipating making a killing on these. I actually did want to go to the show but could not leave town. Ticketmaster won’t waive their credit card and identification requirements and I’m stuck paying for two tickets I have no way of using or selling to recoup my price, all because ticketmaster couldn’t ship them on time. Complete bastards, the lot of them.

  32. mbrutsch says:

    Anyone who reads Consumerist for any length of time should pretty well know by now: if you fly, TSA will f%#$ with you. If you buy from Best Buy, they will try to screw you. If you buy through TicketMaster, they will rip you off. Et cetera, et cetera. While I do have a problem with these evil companies, I can no longer feel sorry for anyone who freely chooses to avail themselves of their services. Where’s Darwin when you need him?

  33. tomok97 says:

    TSA & Best Buy, yes. But Ticketmaster has a virtual monopoly on ticketing. And they have exclusive deals with venues so if the artist plays a Ticketmaster room, sometimes you have no choice. It’s not a product or service you can get from a competitor.

  34. masterdave says:

    It’s not like this is some evil Ticketmaster thing. They just get the most heat from it, same as McDonalds is the #1 target of hate towards fast food even though they’re all doing the same thing.

    Tickets.com has pretty high fees as well. Around here in the Bay Area, we’ve got a LOT of ticketing services, and all but the huge venues have agreements with multiple small ticket selling organizations (Ticketweb, Virtuous tickets, of which most of your convenience fee goes to charity! and some others). Overall, the price of the ticket doesn’t fluctuate much even after fees from one to the other. You’ll pay 1-2 bucks for a cheap show, and 3+ to more expensive shows.

    In the US, it’s still not illegal for a business (the venues) to sign exclusivity agreements with a company that provides a service to them and their customers. Ticketmaster takes the hassle out of selling tickets for the venue which is a pretty necessary thing for them, and eliminates them having to use multiple vendors for the thing. Ticketmaster has unparalelled distribution and access. I assume that when a venue signs an exclusivity agreement with Ticketmaster, part of that fee you’re charged goes straight to the venue in appreciation for their business. It’s not illegal, and it’s not really anything more than standard business and you only hear complaints because the ticket prices (not set by ticketmaster!) keep going up year after year.

    Now, the venues and services that have arrangements with ticket brokers and “market value” ticket reselling services that somehow get the best seats in the house ahead of the fans wanting to buy tickets for the events… that’s kinda scummy, but again still not really illegal. (I personally hate it, but the argument that it’s free market value if someone will pay $500 for a seat in the front row makes plenty of sense, i just wish that extra money went to the artists instead of a 3rd or 4th party).

    Ticketmaster has plenty of competition. But they’re all the same in the end.

  35. Dustbunny says:

    @sncreducer:

    Sorry, the government is busy right now with that Wild Oats/Whole Foods thingie, which is obviously so much more of a price-gouging monopoly than Ticketmaster : P

  36. levenhopper says:

    1) In every city there are Ticketmaster outlets — usually with cheeper processing fees.

    2) I now buy all my concert tickets off stubhub.com or eBay.com. They are either face value, or cheeper…plus no handling fees. Just be sure to check the feedback rating, so you don’t get screwed over.

  37. TheDude06 says:

    Everyone knows thats what the policy is, but is it legal? Has anyone even tried to dispute it since Pearl jam in the 90s?

  38. SOhp101 says:

    Dispute with your credit card, end of story.

  39. I actually had a decent experience with TicketMaster recently.

  40. jeffj-nj says:

    Many years ago, I went to see Billy Joel in concert. Towards the begining of the show, after a few songs, he announced to the audiance, “I was asking $55 per ticket to this show,” and then asked, “Did any of you actually pay that amount?” The entire arena erupted in laughter and applause.

    Because, of course, no… None of us had. And he knew it.

  41. Chicago7 says:

    Ewww, a Kelly Clarkson concert? What, were you taking your mother?

  42. Skeptic says:

    I spent most of my college years working for Ticketmaster. I don’t usually have a burning desire to defend them but as far as the processing fee, they’ve done their part whether the concert goes on or not. And, in order to “process” all of the returned tickets, Ticketmaster is actually doing (almost) twice the work.

    Hmmm…You know, Visa and MasterCard have “done their job” when I get a refund, but I get all of my money back and they don’t charge me the merchant fee. The same should be true for Ticket Master.

  43. sinclair__ says:

    For everyone defending Ticketmaster’s non-refundable fees, how is it different from the following situation:

    You order an item online. The merchant gets the item out of the warehouse, notices it is broken, and cannot get a replacement. You never get the item, but you are still charged a handling fee. Are you OK with this practice?

    How about this situation: You go to a store and purchase an item which is defective out of the box. When you go to return it, you are charged a 15% handling fee to return a clearly defective item. There are no more in stock and no more are coming. Would you walk out of the store with no item and less money in your pocket, even if the policy was posted behind the service counter?

    I don’t think many people would support either scenario. Maybe I’m wrong here.

    I also believe that Ticketmaster’s fees would not stand up in court. Consumer law basically says that if you buy something, you pay for it. If you don’t get it, you don’t pay for it. If the *purchaser* cancels the order, nonrefundable fees can be charged. However, if the *merchant* is unable to fulfill the order, the buyer is not charged a cent. Any other method is wide open to abuse.

  44. shdwsclan says:

    Its called capitalism……
    Kinda like RCN and their cable maintenece fee, or if you get exaclty the same modem for like a dollar, they wont program it and theyll give you some BS reason, and still force you to pay the $5 a month fee.

  45. Jon Mason says:

    @sinclair – Exactly. Just because you say “non-refundable” doesn’t make it so – you are paying for something, if through no fault of your own you do not end up with the product due to the retailer or their supplier ‘cancelling’ you shouldnt end up out of pocket.

    Imagine if Best Buy were to take ‘non-refundable’ deposits to reserve a new game – if the supplier then cancelled the release you would be entitled to your money back no?

    TicketMaster calling something ‘non-refundable’ doesn’t make it legal or moral to do so.

    Otherwise, whats to stop artists/ticketmaster announcing shows left, right and center and then cancelling them… ?

  46. breny says:

    There’s a reason they’re nicknamed Ticketbastard.

  47. carrienation says:

    @ Skeptic: And you pay *how much* in annual fees to Mastercard or Visa?

    My whole point is that Ticketmaster provides a service and it’s not unreasonable for them to charge for it. And they provide more of a service if they have to process refunds because some crap-ass manufactured pop star cancels.

    I don’t like surrendering processing fees any more than anyone else, but I’m not going to ball up my fists and stamp my feet and cry about how unfair it is, especially over $3.75. I’m barely old enough to remember how purchasing concert tickets used to be, and buying them over phone or internet is much more preferable to camping out overnight in a sketchy parking lot.

  48. Trackback says:

    David Markland:If you had tickets for the now cancelled July 19th Kelly Clarkson concert in Anaheim, you’ll be getting most of your money back… as in the face value of the tickets. But those processing fees from Ticketmaster? Nah… those you won’t be seeing.

  49. tomok97 says:

    @sinclair – The problem with your analogies is that Ticketmaster is technically a 3rd party in the transaction. You are paying them to serve as a go-between. Even though the concert promoter canceled a show, Ticketmaster still provided the service that you contracted them to do.

    And, as much as it pains me to say, they actually provide an extra layer of protection for the consumer. Ticketmaster holds the money until the show actually takes place, thereby preventing less reputable concert promoters from skipping town with the money. The concert promoter has no access to the funds until the show is over.

  50. JoeyT says:

    Ticketmaster’s near monopoly is frustrating because there exist ticket brokers who charge significantly less. Unlike masterdave, I’ve had much better experiences with Ticketmaster competitors (smaller fees, fewer click-through screens, no spam, etc.). My local baseball team uses [www.ticketreturn.com, for example, and I've had nothing b...

  51. Trackback says:

    Read at thedailyswarm.com. Read at consumerist.com.

  52. Asthmatic1 says:

    Don’t be fooled into thinking Ticketmaser is some innocent 3rd party in this situation. Generally – especially with Live Nation promoted concerts – they are splitting the “convenience fee” with the concert promoter.

  53. WhatANiceMom says:

    Bought the tickets for my daughter. Did everybody here get charged $3.75/ticket? My letter from The Almighty TM says “Please note, the $4.75 per order processing fee and any ticketFast or UPS delivery charges are non-refundable.”

    So let’s see, that’s $4.75 plus the $1 ticketFast charge for something handled without any human service provided at all. I think I’ll send them a bill for the 25 minutes I spent repeatedly trying to get into their system. From the second the tickets went on sale I kept getting the message that no seats were available in the quantity I wanted (2). In between I would get a message that the request for tickets to this event were coming too frequently from my computer and I would have to wait awhile before trying again. And now I get to pay for the privilege of doing business with them. Anyone know a class action lawyer?

  54. Trackback says:

    Its not the first thing that comes to mind for an industry insider, but when a concert gets canceled Ticketmaster does not refund the $3.75 processing fee, ticketFast charges or UPS delivery costs.nbsp; With the cancellation of the entire Kelly Clarkson tour, the policy has just created tens of…

  55. sinclair__ says:

    @tomok97: Every merchant is a 3rd party in the transaction. The status of Ticketmaster’s relationship to the concert provider is not my concern. When I buy a ticket from Tickermaster, my deal is with them and no one else, and they are responsible for a full refund if they do not deliver any product. If they are damaged due to a cancellation, they can go after the concert organizers.

    A merchant cannot avoid liability by claiming to be a go between. In my scenarios above, the customer’s claim is strictly against the merchant. If the merchant is a reseller, then the merchant may have a claim against it’s suppliers, but it is not up to the customer to persue such a claim. Again, any other system would be wide open to abuse. Ticketmaster is responsible for a full refund if the items is sells are defective.

  56. I think that we need to draw a line with this name calling. There’s only one person in the world who can be referred to as “Clarkson”, and it ain’t Kelly, it’s Jeremy.

  57. pestie says:

    @JKinNYC: Or maybe this is god’s punishment for buying Kelly Clarkson tickets.

    I was thinking, “Your wife wanted to go to a Kelly Clarkson concert? File for divorce!” Then I remembered that my girlfriend has the most abysmal musical taste on earth. Dammit.