Dig at the root of the problem

So if it wasn't bad enough that Pittsburgh is totally devoid of decent concert venues, unscrupulous ticket brokers -- in the guise of reputable corporations -- have to gouge you out the ass for tickets to the handful of half-decent shows that, for whatever reason, have decided to swing through Pittsburgh. Case in point: Gang of Four, by some grace of God, is coming into town for a show at Mr. Small's on October 4. Amazing that, in a town with no venue to draw any of the "name" bands cluttering radio today, a band as influential and successful as Gang of Four could not only play Pittsburgh but do it in an intimate venue like Mr. Small's. When tickets went on sale a couple weeks ago, Raquel went to pick up tickets at Paul's CDs in Bloomfield. See, Mr. Small's encourages ticket-buyers to purchase tix through indie record stores because it cuts out the service fees in most cases.

But wouldn't you know, this wasn't one of those times.

See, this show happens to be a Clear Channel affair, which means that tickets can only be purchased through Ticketmaster.

Funny, I have never, not once, heard Gang of Four be played on a Clear Channel station in Pittsburgh. So, yeah, I can see why CC would be promoting the show.

The thing is, though, that Clear Channel isn't even the problem. It's Ticketmaster. As much as I loathe Ticketmaster for it's vice-like grip on concert-going and ticketing, what resulted from buying these tickets was so unconscionable that I'm considering sending a letter to my Senator. After my girlfriend was forced to call Ticketmaster since she was shut out at the independent record store because of the corporate machine, the two tickets for Gang of Four -- $17 per, which isn't just reasonable it's cheap -- ended up being, after all the service fees and such, $52.

After doing some remedial math, I figured out that that amounts to $18 in service fees -- or more than the price of another ticket!!!

How can someone get away with that?! Isn't that the very definition of abusing the marketplace because of a monopoly? And you have to think that Clear Channel is only promoting the show to get a cut of those fees from Ticketmaster, which would make it collusion.

What kind of service am I getting for that $9 per ticket? Is the telemarketer I'm calling in some call center in Illinois or India sucking me off over the phone lines while he/she is processing my order via computer? Are one of these Ticketmaster goons out repairing my car when I stop in to Giant Eagle to talk to a non-Ticketmaster employee for two minutes while he/she punches my info into a computer and it spits out my tickets?

Holy hell. No wonder people don't go to shows -- they don't want to be raped when they want to see their fave bands. Ticketmaster needs to either be reined in by some sort of government intervention or some other ticket brokering firm needs to step up and give it major competition.

The service fee is like buying wet land in Arizona -- you're paying for nothing and you are, in the long run, better off flushing your money down the toilet. And the people responsible for pushing it are just as reprehensible as those "Glengarry Glen Ross" salesmen.