Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Internet Ripoffs

The internet has reached a strange in-between place where, even though we increasingly do a lot, for some even a majority, of our shopping online (for tickets, gifts, books & music), we're still stuck with an incredible lack of options when it comes to what major services to choose from. In some cases there are alternatives (don't want to use Amazon for books? shop at Powell's!), but in other cases you're pretty much screwed.

The absolute worst situations are any sort of ticketing services, in particular Ticketmaster for concert tickets and Fandango for movie tickets. Everyone and their mother already knows that Ticketmaster is the King of the Rip-off, charging inexplicable surcharges and processing fees that have made them the bane of every concert goer's existence. Alas, they're the only game in town so what can you do except go to less shows or try to buy tix at the door or from the venue's own website? Thankfully, most of my favorite bands are refreshingly disliked/unpopular and I can thus usually walk right up to a concert hall and buy my tickets at the door.

My current gripe, however, is with Fandango, a movie-ticket purchasing site that has seemed to explode on the internet of late. Fandango is just as egregious a ripoff as Ticketmaster, but in a more subtle way. Recently, and presumably as a way to pay for all the advertising they do during movie previews (doesn't everyone, by the way, hate commercials during previews anyway?), Fandango has raised their processing fee to $1.50 per ticket!

This may not seem like much at first, but if you see as many movies as my friends and I do in New York, combined with the fact that everything sells out so fast here, you really have no choice but to go online and pay their absurd processing fee every time. That, combined with the times when you buy more than one ticket for your friends and significant others means that you spend 100-200 dollars a year just on movie surcharges! (way more, by the way, than almost anyone spends on Ticketmaster in a year). Even taking into account my well-deserved reputation for cheapness, that's pretty bad, right? Movies are already prohibitively expensive and popcorn and drinks are already absurdly priced-how can anyone justify spending 15-20 bucks a person to see a movie that is going to be a letdown almost half the time?

So, anyway, those are the two internet services that drove me crazy of late. What other ways does the internet rip us off? Inquiring minds (ok, an inquiring mind) wants to know!


Bryan said...

Ticketmaster has killed me for a long, long time. They clearly make a ton of money off ad revenue, yet they demand we give them an extra $10 for the "privilege" of printing our own tickets. And it's not like that saves us time in line at the concert!

They screw us in so many ways.

Howard said... is only $1. In that case, it truly is a convenience charge (ie not waiting in line is worth it).

But Ticketmaster? They're highway robbers. $30 tickets and a $15 service charge. That's fucking retarded.

Josh said...

Yeah, for some reason 1 dollar I can deal with. I can't explain why $1.50 bothers me so much, other than it just seems like a very subtle ripoff, the kind where they keep adding on extra costs because it's never big enough to make a big deal about. I'm done ranting about this for now, though; it cannot be healthy...

Robert said...

I have found that setting up your own "Mall" at is an effective way of locating vetted internet shopping, and while it is slow you can generate cashflow as well.