(In)Convenience Fees

Yesterday afternoon my wife went online and bought tickets for a (very) popular (somewhat) local attraction. She then forwarded the confirmation e-mail to me such that I could mark it on my calendar. While perusing the the details, I noticed something very irksome — a $5 ‘convenience fee’ for making the purchase online.

Let me get this straight… We went online to purchase our tickets, thereby keeping their ticket lines short and saving them the cost of extra ticket sellers, and they nick us for an extra fee? That’s a bit like when banks charge an extra fee for the privilege of saving them money by using a debit card instead of writing a check.

But wait! It gets better. About two minutes later I got another e-mail from my wife along with an attachment. As it turns out, they e-mailed the tickets to us (with individualized barcodes) with instructions to print them out!

So… Can someone explain the logic of this to me? Yeah, I know, it’s convenient to do get your tickets online. I get it. But it’s actually even more convenient for them than it is for us. It’s self-service all the way, no need for them to waste any man hours on us at the ticket window or the will-call window, and no need for them to print tickets. The only way it could get easier for them would be if we bought the tickets and then sat on our couch instead of actually going. I wish everyone would take a page from hotels and airlines and give preferred pricing (or at least not inflated prices) for online purchases.

17 Responses to “(In)Convenience Fees”

  1. Anonymous

    What’s missing here is a discussion of the simple fact that in order get the “best seats available” you almost HAVE to buy the tickets online — especially when the tickets first go on sale.

    In the old days you could get up early and wait in line for 3 hours at the box office to get the best seats. Now there is essentially a limitless number of “ticket agents” online who have access to all of the seats the second the tickets go on sale. If you are standing in a line of humans, by the time you get to the window there may be no seats left at all, nevermind the best ones.

    My point is that in a fair world you should be able to get access to the best seats without having to pay these ridiculous “convenience” fees.

  2. Anonymous

    Oh I have one– I purchased an Alternative fuel vehicle with Zero emissions. I no longer have to get Smog checks anymore… the DMV now charges me anually a ‘Smog abatement fee’

  3. Anonymous

    It’s simple price discrimination, like an outlet mall. If you’re willing to go to the venue’s box office, you can get a discount on the tickets, just like if you’re willing to drive an hour out of town, you can get a discount on Mikasa or whatever. As long as people are willing to pay the fees to avoid having to go to the venue, they’ll continue to be charged.

  4. Anonymous

    I’ve worked in a Ticket Office for the last 3 years and we also charge fees for items ordered online or by phone but not at the window. Our charges are $2 per order and between $1-$2.50 per ticket depending on the season (ticket prices range from $3-8, or $9-25 also depending on the season). We also have a cap on the amount of tickets you can purchase that receive the per ticket fee. We also give the option of avoiding the fee by buying at the ticket window.

    The fees help pay for the hardware and software that we utilize for our ticket system, the price of the actual tickets, envelopes and mailing, staffing costs, credit processing fees, and depending on the season a majority of our fees are claimed by an outside entity and are not under our control at all.

    That said, I would be shocked to see if I’ve forgotten a few things, or even have not been made privvy to all of the details.

    In response to # 1 (nick) – I’ve listened to numerous complaints and many requests for a refund of these fees. When you agree to the purchase, you agree to the payment of those fees and in our case a no refund/no exchange policy. You always have the option to not purchase tickets via the online service or by phone. Either way, these are not hidden fees by any means. I’m not sure exactly makes people think that they should be treated different then everyone else. Why should you or (# 5) get a refund?

    In response to # 15 (nickel) – Credit card processing fees are still charged to the merchant whether or not you purchase the item online, by phone, or in person. There may be a lower rate charged to each merchant by the processor for having the actual credit card to swipe though. Either way, having a service charge on phone and online orders helps the merchant recoup the processing fees lost on window sales.

    No offense to anyone here, but people need to take some responsibility for their own actions when purchasing online. I doubt anyone was forcing the transaction or slid the fee in there.

  5. Anonymous

    I think those fees sometimes are to cover the 3% to 5% they have to pay credit cards. This is a common practise overseas.

    If you pay cash its a different price than paying by credit cards……try going to an oriental grocery store in the US…..you will definately notice a sign that says u can use ur credit card ONLY on purchases more than $15 or $20.

  6. Anonymous

    At least that is for entertainment. My county does a $1 fee for renewing your car tags online. Makes using a $.39 stamp look good. Although I agree it is probably b/c the service was outsourced.

  7. Anonymous

    Whats more, those fees are most likely non-refundable- even if the event goes belly up or it’s in no way your fault… no refund of processing fees.

    See this is where businesses are silly, if they had charged $5 more for your ticket but not added it as a fee you wouldn’t be so mad.

    The marketing guys might have a problem though because would they sell fewer $30 tickets than $25 tickets?

    Of course many people add “junk” fees to make their prices look lower…. the old bait and switch… thats why there are port fees, landing fees, connection fees, finance fees, application fees, processing fees, “non-government” fees, delivery fees, storage fees, deposit fees, and on and on and on.

    People are starting to revolt against these and eventually everyone will figure out that full up front disclosure is a good salve for angry consumers.

    I’ve often said I’m in the only business in the world that can’t charge a junk fee…that’s too bad because they are surely a profitable addition to any good price.

  8. Nickel

    Given the amount that this ‘external servicing’ saves them in terms of reduced personnel, not having to print tickets, etc., they could easily eat the cost themselves and still break even (or possibly come out ahead). So I still don’t buy that these fees are in any way necessary.

  9. Anonymous

    As someone else mentioned, usually this cash is going to the company handling the processing. For this fee, they usually do the CC processing, run the site, etc for free to their customer. I absolutely hate these fees, but for concerts or such, I’d rather buy ’em online than wait in line at a box office. Of course, buying movie tickets this way is pointless.

  10. Anonymous

    It’s like one time, when I was refinancing one of my rental properties, unfortunately with a mortgage broker. He was sucking my knee caps in the gym, because he found out that I own a fair amount of rentals properties. Much to my hesitation, I agreed to have him generate a Good Faith Estimate. In the alleged “Good Faith Estimate” I saw a charge of $30.00 for an Email fee. An Email fee? Since when did it cost $30.00 to email me my loan docs. Of course I told him to go pound sand and went on to refinance with a bank, as I have always done in the past. An email fee, please, why don’t you just create a fee for me having A+ blood type.

  11. Anonymous

    We encountered the same thing when Mr. MoneyDummy went to a Goo Goo Dolls concert. First, in order to buy the tickets as soon as they were available we had to join an online club. Thirty bucks right there for the mere privilege of purchasing the tickets.

    THEN, we had to pay an extra five or ten dollars PER TICKET (we bought four) because we purchased them online. It made me quite angry that they were being so exploitive and nickle and diming. Of course, it made me even more angry that we were party to it by paying the fees.

  12. Anonymous

    Not that his is necessarily the case, but often they outsource their online processing and the fees are probably not (all) going to your venue.

  13. Anonymous

    I see these fees on online transactions all the time. The same goes for EFT payments over the phone. I just found out I had a Sallie Mae balance of .06. When I tried to pay it online they would not accept a payment of less than a dollar so I called and they said I could pay it over the phone for a fee of $10.00! Even the customer service rep could not help laughing. These fees are mainly based on greed. Yes these companies are saving overhead, but they say, hey let’s make even more money by dinging our customers for 5 to 10 bucks more.

  14. Anonymous

    Same thing with our local theater here — $0.50 surcharge for booking online. I only do it when there’s a very popular movie out and I need to guarantee a seat in advance.

  15. Anonymous

    I’ve seen the same thing when ordering movie tickets online. Usually it’s just an extra buck or two, but it makes absolutely zero sense. I think you should write to the company behind the attraction, present this argument, request the $5 fees back, and ask them to eliminate the fee altogether.

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