Ed's Blog

Consumer Reports: Ticketmaster worst of 52 online shopping sites

By Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

We are shocked, shocked to find in our latest Consumer Reports magazine that Ticketmaster came in last in a Consumer Reports member survey asking for online retailer ratings. The consumer-owned outdoor store, REI.com, came in best, followed closely by some other well-known brands.

But Ticketmaster? Way down at the bottom of 52 websites. I wonder why. Could it be the myriad processing fees that have caused at least one band, String Cheese Incident, to buy bulk tickets to their own events at a venue box office at face value and then re-sell them on their own website, with no processing fees, to keep their fans happy?

By far, my "favorite" of their myriad fees (Wikipedia list) is the "print-your-own-ticket-at-home" charge (imposed on top of other charges, which may include a "processing charge" and "per-order" charge). 

Or maybe it's the "deceptive" sales tactics. Remember the 2009 episode in which Bruce Springsteen fans were switched from the main Ticketmaster website into a Ticketmaster-owned re-seller subsidiary's site where tickets were sold at double the price? In that episode, some of the tickets didn't even exist, but the company held onto consumer payments for months, anyway, according to the FTC settlement.

U.S. PIRG has supported efforts to reform Ticketmaster since the 1990s, when we worked unsucessfully with the band Pearl Jam and others to demand Department of Justice action. More recently, we and other consumer groups urged DOJ to block Ticketmaster's merger with Live Nation over concerns that the combined entrant's increased market power would make it even less responsive to consumer complaints. DOJ did impose some restrictions on the merger. But according to Consumer Reports readers, Ticketmaster is still generating complaints.

Like Casablanca's Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) we are shocked, shocked with the survey results.

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