Five reasons Ticketmaster is losing customers

Okay, so Ticketmaster isn’t the most popular company. In this year’s “Worst Company in America” contest over at Consumerist, they got into the Sweet 16 but were barely edged out by Comcast. But why does everyone hate them? Here’s a quick 5:

  1. High convenience fees. There’s nothing wrong with charging a fee to distribute tickets. There is something TERRIBLY wrong with charging up to 40% of the face price of the ticket in fees. And the artists and promoters get none of these. Yet.
  2. They encourage waste. Price for a print at home ticket: $2.50. Price for a mailed ticket: Free. Why this bass-ackwards fee structure? Simple. TM has been around since Moses, and they have a heap of capital invested in envelope stuffing farms. Gotta get their monies worth! TM’s attitude toward the internet can be summed up in a 2000 lawsuit where they tried to sue tickets.com for linking to them.
    Right.
  3. They scalp their own tickets. With the purchase of TicketsNow, someone had to see this coming. Can’t get seats to that Radiohead show? Try our partner, TicketsNow. Evil.
  4. They have dirty business practices. Operating what is essentially a monopoly, TM has in the past successfully kept bands like Pearl Jam and String Cheese Incident from selling tickets to their own fans, under the guise of exclusive ticketing arrangements with venues. TM has over 90% of the market share in venues, which means they can and do successfully stifle competition.
  5. They treat their customers poorly. We joke that the local TM rep is our best employee. According to many of our new clients, they never return calls, are less than helpful, and conduct business under this opaque cloak of secrecy. Need a sales report? That’ll be a few days. Want the money for the tickets from your event? Wait until the event is over.  Leave a message, MAYBE they’ll call you back.

Ticketmaster’s business model is old. Their competitive advantage and barriers to entry (that is – long term contracts and monopolistic policies) are eroding daily. Smaller companies are figuring out how to win business by offering better service and lower fees to the end consumer. Are TM’s days numbered? Probably not, but the game is definitely changing.

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