Why is it so expensive to buy concert tickets online?

If you've ever bought tickets online for a concert or sporting event, you probably got a nasty surprise user fee at the checkout.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - If you’ve ever bought tickets online for a concert or sporting event, you probably got a nasty surprise user fee at the checkout.

Gerardo Martinez and Tracy Betts wanted to buy tickets for an upcoming Tedeschi Trucks concert.

When they checked the price online, “The extra fee was thirty dollars, which was about 15% of the price," said Martinez.

They went the low-tech approach and bought their tickets from the physical box office.

“We bought four tickets, and we saved 120 dollars," said Betts. “ And by the way, the advantage of actually going to box office, usually the people selling them to you are more knowledgeable about the venue and will tell you if there’s a possible obstruction.”

The couple said they saved an additional 50 dollars per ticket when they bought from the box office at the Kennedy Center.

Gary Adler, with the National Association of Ticket Brokers, said just two companies keep a stranglehold on online ticket sales.

 “There’s nowhere else to go whether it be Ticketmaster or Live Nation or someone else," said Adler.

According to Billboard Magazine, even Live Nation CEO Micheal Rapino, in an email disclosed in an anti-competition lawsuit last month, called some of the fees Ticketmaster charges "not defendable." 

Government efforts have focused on ticket bots, which buy up tickets en masse to resell.

But efforts to get more transparency for consumers from the largest ticket retailers have failed.

Just last week in Canada, the Ontario government tried to force companies to reveal how many tickets were available for sale. That law didn’t pass.

Adler said it’s an issue in the U.S. as well.

"Miley Cyrus was a big show," said Adler. "Consumers got locked out in seconds,  blamed all the brokers and it turns out only a fraction of those tickets were ever made available," he said.

Adler said resale online ticket sites like StubHub offer more competition. He said people can often find tickets on these sites for under face value, but they shouldn’t buy from the first site they find.

‘Sometimes you have to go through a bit of a process to see the final cost, if you don’t like it compare it to other sources," aid Adler.

Adler said tickets sometimes come down closer to the event, but he cautioned that waiting can also backfire.

“There have been instances, usually with major events, where so many people were following that philosophy and waiting to the last minute that prices actually went up." said Adler.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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