So my kid likes weird stuff. He proclaimed that he’s “so over fiction” and he only likes science. He’s 5. A bit odd for his age, but I’ll go with it. So, I decided I’d take him to a Body Worlds exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. As usual, they coerce you into buying tickets online up front since there may be no tickets available when you get there. The ticket ordering process is administered by Ticketmaster.
My logic: By making an advance ticket purchase through an automated internet connection, the net cost to process the transaction should be less – or maybe even – compared to buying at a ticket window…perhaps a nominal fee to Ticketmaster for facilitating the transaction. After all, they’re getting guaranteed cash flow upfront for patrons that may not even show up, they’re not staffing as many people to handle the transactions the day of (perhaps they only need 2 ticket window people each day instead of 4 for instance since so many purchases are done online), plus they get the float on the upfront cash (as marginal as it is over such a short time period with near-zero interest rates).
Their Logic: For the “convenience” of making such advance ticket purchase (which they recommend), they will hit you with a multitude of fees, come-ons and gimmicks throughout the ticket ordering process to the point that my total is unrecognizable in the context of what I actually signed up for.
The Breakdown: I’ve copied some of the ridiculous steps and charges involved and everything directly from the site/transaction is in gray below. My commentary is in red.
Full Price Adult
US $27.00 x 1
US $3.95 x 1
Children Ages 4-11
US $19.80 x 1
US $3.50 x 1
*OK, so not only is there a “convenience charge on the overall transaction”, but there’s a “convenience charge” for each damned ticket! What if I bought 8 tickets? There would be 30 bucks in “convenience charges”?
Order Processing Fee
*Great! Another charge. An “Order Processing Fee”. What the hell is this above and beyond these convenience charges? They couldn’t recoup/gouge or whatever they’re doing with the fees above? Now, there’s an additional $4.05?
*I chose will call meaning I have to show up and pick up my tickets at the window (probably while waiting in a huge line there, somewhat negating the benefit of ordering in advance). Why? Well, Will-Call was at the bottom. Guess what’s at the top? $17 and up quick-delivery options. For the “convenience” of being lazy and ordering your tickets 3 days before, they’ll send the tickets 2 day mail or whatever (probably at a cost of $1) for $17 or thereabouts depending on which option you choose. Talk about profit margins!
*$58.50 doesn’t look much like the $46.80 I saw on the opening page for ticket prices for a Dad and his Kid.
YES, Protect My Ticket Purchase (Recommended)
Get Event Ticket Insurance for an additional $7.00 per ticket
*It doesn’t stop there though! Now, there’s “Ticket insurance”. WTF? I’ve never heard of such a thing. And it’s prominently displayed as “recommended”. I’ve heard of vacation insurance for exorbitant fees, but now they’re pitching this for $47 in tickets? For $7? Basically, you’re insuring 15% of the purchase price in the event you don’t show up due to some sort of emergency (which of course, must fall within the guidelines [fine print below]). In order for this to make sense on a routine basis, you must miss about 1 out of every 6 events you ever sign up for in life, all other things being equal. Can you think of a single event you’ve ever missed due to some crazy mishap like the ones cited below – car accident, etc? Maybe 1 in your life, right? Are you that bad a driver that you crash 1 in 6 times? Who actually buys this stuff? Who are these people? Probably the same ones who buy the extended warranty at Best Buy – but that’s another story. Anyway, they try and get you on each page. But that’s not it!
If you can’t attend this event for any number of covered reasons, including illness, airline delays, traffic accidents and more, you’ll be reimbursed for this purchase.
Then I had to “verify” my visa card. This is another rather annoying process that they claim helps deter identify theft or fraud or whatever, but nothing they ever do seems to actually stem the scammers. I don’t do this for other purchases either. I don’t know why I have to do this when I buy a ticket, yet I can buy something from an online retailer without this nonsense. Anyway, there is more…
“Special Offer” to claim $20 off your next purchase
Once you’ve finalized your payment, there’s another wonderful opportunity. I didn’t sign up for this “special offer” as I already felt special enough from this experience, but I’d wager that it’s not a “win-win” for the lowly costumer. You probably end up on some sort of scammy mailing list or worse.
So, now that I have that off my chest,
Am I Off-Base Here?
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