Ticketmaster service fees have become an unavoidable part of buying concert and event tickets online. These extra charges added at checkout can add 15-20% to the base ticket price. With fees reaching $30 per ticket or more for high-demand shows, fans want to know if there are ways around them.
What are Ticketmaster fees?
Ticketmaster fees include an unspecified “service charge” and an order processing fee per ticket. The company states these cover the costs of operating their platform and services like online ticket sales and delivery.
However, critics argue the fees are excessive and that Ticketmaster uses its position as the primary ticket provider for most major venues to charge higher fees.
Types of Ticketmaster fees
There are several types of Ticketmaster service fees:
- Service fee – Typically around 10-20% of the base ticket price.
- Order processing fee – A per ticket fee around $5-10.
- Facility charge – Varies, a fee the venue charges.
- Shipping/delivery fees – For mailed tickets or print-at-home delivery.
The specifics fees charged depend on the event, ticket source, and delivery method. But in most cases, a service fee and order processing fee apply to each ticket.
Can you avoid Ticketmaster fees buying tickets at the box office?
Many fans wonder if buying tickets at the venue box office allows you to avoid Ticketmaster fees. Unfortunately, the answer is usually no – Ticketmaster service fees still apply when you buy directly from the box office.
That’s because Ticketmaster has exclusive ticketing agreements with the majority of major event venues and promoters. This means they handle all ticket sales, including box office sales, and charge their fees accordingly.
Exceptions where box office may avoid fees
There are some exceptions where buying tickets at the box office may let you avoid Ticketmaster fees:
- The venue sells tickets themselves, not Ticketmaster.
- The box office only sells a limited number of tickets with lower fees.
- Tickets are part of a venue presale before going on sale at Ticketmaster.
However, these situations are becoming increasingly rare as more venues use Ticketmaster ticketing. Some venues may also charge their own services fees at the box office to make up for not charging Ticketmaster fees.
Other ways to avoid Ticketmaster fees
If buying direct at the box office doesn’t help you avoid fees, what other options are there? Here are some alternative ticket purchasing methods that may let you get around some or all of Ticketmaster’s extra charges:
Buy from the venue website
Sometimes the venue itself will sell tickets directly through their own website, bypassing Ticketmaster. This allows them to avoid sharing the Ticketmaster service fees. Check the venue’s official website for ticket purchasing options before buying from Ticketmaster.
Buy from the performer or promoter
Some bands, performers, promoters, and festivals sell tickets directly through their own websites or services. For example, many music festivals offer ticket packages on their official sites. Again, bypassing Ticketmaster means avoiding their fees.
Buy resale tickets
Tickets purchased through resale sites like StubHub, VividSeats, and SeatGeek were already subject to Ticketmaster fees on the initial purchase. Buying them resale avoids paying the fees again. However, resale tickets typically sell above face value.
Buy fan club presales
Some artists hold special presales for fan club members before the general on-sale through Ticketmaster. These presale tickets may have lower or no service fees before also being made available on Ticketmaster at a higher price.
Wait for general sale on lower fee sites
When tickets go on a general public on-sale date, they are often available on Ticketmaster alternatives like AXS and Eventbrite. These sites may charge lower service fees than Ticketmaster for the same tickets.
Factors in Ticketmaster service fees
Why do Ticketmaster service fees vary so much for different events? Here are some of the factors that influence how high or low the fees will be:
The event promoter
Promoters ultimately decide service fee amounts for their events. Promoters hosting more high-profile events tend charge higher fees.
Venue size and location impacts fees. Bigger venues in major cities typically have higher fees than smaller venues.
The higher the demand for tickets, the higher service fees tend to be. Fees for extremely popular artists and sold-out events will usually be elevated.
Where and how you buy tickets affects fees. Buying directly from the venue website, box office, or fan presales may mean lower fees than buying from Ticketmaster.
How tickets are delivered to you also changes fees. Print-at-home and mobile tickets avoid shipping fees versus having hard tickets mailed.
Understanding these factors can help you notice when lower fee ticket purchasing options may be available.
Should ticket fees be regulated?
The question of whether ticket marketplace companies like Ticketmaster should be more regulated is an ongoing debate. Critics argue the fees are harmful to consumers and artists.
However, Ticketmaster defends the fees as covering necessary operating costs and services that benefit fans and venues. Regulating ticket sales also risks unintended consequences, like reducing accessibility if fees are capped too low.
Some argue the ticket market should be opened up to more competition beyond Ticketmaster. But breaking their hold on so many major venues is an enormous challenge.
For now – understanding fees is key
Unfortunately for consumers, Ticketmaster’s fees remain a frustrating reality of ticket buying today. The company shows no signs of voluntary fee reduction or increased transparency.
That means fans must educate themselves on why fees exist, how high they might be for different tickets, and any opportunities that may exist to avoid fees entirely by purchasing through alternative channels.
The bottom line on avoiding Ticketmaster fees
Can you avoid Ticketmaster fees by buying tickets at the box office? In most cases, the answer remains no. Ticketmaster’s exclusive agreements with venues mean their service fees apply to most box office ticket sales too.
Dodging the fees requires searching out alternative ticketing options for each specific event, from fan club presales to resale tickets. But these limited workarounds only apply to certain tickets.
For now, Ticketmaster still holds the power to charge service fees with little oversight. Fans frustrated by fees have limited options beyond picking their purchasing method carefully to try minimizing the extra costs.
While box office sales won’t help you here, being an informed ticket buyer, shopping around different sales channels, and timing purchases right can potentially help save on fees.
Ticketmaster service fees remain a point of contention between consumers and the ticketing industry giant. Their fees can make up a substantial portion of ticket prices, especially for high-demand events.
Attempting to avoid the fees by buying tickets directly at venue box offices generally doesn’t work, as Ticketmaster has exclusive ticketing deals in place with most major venues and promoters. Their fees apply to box office ticket sales as well.
Skipping the fees requires finding alternative ticketing options for specific events, such as fan club presales or promoter direct sales. But these limited workarounds only apply to some events.
With Ticketmaster’s stronghold on event ticketing, their service fees remain an unavoidable reality for most ticket buyers. Being an informed consumer, timing purchases strategically, and shopping around remains the best way to try minimizing these frustrating fees.