- The full price of your tickets is not revealed until check-out, after add-ons such as handling fees and print-at-home charges are added.
- Consumers have almost no choice in ticket prices when the marketplace is dominated by agencies with exclusive ticketing rights to venues.
You wanted tickets to Shore Thing – the annual New Year’s Eve dance music event at Bondi Beach – and found tickets going for two different prices:
- If you bought the ticket from the smaller ticketing agency Moshtix, you would have paid $129 per ticket plus $5.60 booking fee.
- If you got a ticket from Ticketek, one of the two major ticketing agencies, you would have paid $139 for the ticket and another $8.50 to pick it up.
The event is held at the same venue and there is no seating preference, so why the $12.90 difference?
As CHOICE found out, add-on charges for tickets vary from event to event and from one ticketing agency to another. These costs, such as phone booking charges and venue pick-up fees, are not upfront and you’ll only discover how much extra you have to fork out when you’ve almost completed the booking and are about to pay up.
Furthermore, the “best available” seats you choose or have been assigned may exclude seats – usually with the best view – that have already been privately allocated by the event promoter as complimentary tickets to corporate sponsors. We explain how ticketing agencies dominate the market and what hidden costs you should watch out for.
Please note: this information was current as of March 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
No industry watchdog
In Australia, there is no regulatory body overseeing the setting of ticket prices or pricing structure of tickets. Live Performance Australia (LPA), peak body for the live entertainment and performing arts industry, says its members usually state in advertisements that “additional charges” apply to the advertised price, in a bid to be as transparent as possible about ticket costs.
LPA spokesperson Suzanne Daley Carr says while the LPA has not received any consumer complaints in recent years about add-on fees, it set up a new complaints handling and dispute resolution policy last September (firstname.lastname@example.org) to address consumer complaints when they are not resolved by an LPA member.
Ticketing add-on charges are decided and controlled by ticketing agencies, and a lack of regulation means some agencies’ charges are more punishing than others. CHOICE believes add-on fees should be upfront so consumers can see all the extra charges, and therefore total price of their ticket, before filling in personal details and providing payment details.