Some Major League Baseball (MLB) teams charge convenience and other fees well in excess of the face value for a ticket, and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York is preparing to introduce a new bill in Congress aimed at bringing those fees in line and making them more transparent.
In a report released over the weekend, Weiner blasted the league for the online purchase fees, which, in the case of some Oakland Athletics tickets, can exceed 400 percent of the face value. The ticket in question is a $2 ticket that carries convenience fees of $8.25.
“Major League Baseball teams are charging fans arbitrary and excessive fees when buying tickets online. Sometimes these fees can be greater than the ticket price,” Weiner said in the report. “When fans buy tickets online, they don’t know what the final price of the ticket when they pick their seats. Online ticket vendors add extra fees at every step of the process. Virtually every time a fan clicks next, another fee is added.”
A league spokesperson did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The New York Yankees and Mets charged some of the highest fees in the league, according to Weiner. The Mets’ order processing fee is $5 per ticket (the Yankees’ is $3.30 per ticket), and both teams charge $2.50 to print the ticket at home. As for convenience fees, the Yankees’ range from $3.60 to $10.95, while the Mets’ range from $4 to $15.
For an $11 Mets ticket, for example, fees totaled $11.50, or 105 percent of the tickets’ face value. For a $5 Yankees ticket, the fees totaled $9.40 or 188 percent of the face value.
The report focused on the league’s primary ticket sales through Ticketmaster and Tickets.com, which is owned by MLB, but did not mention the secondary ticket market, where brokers also charge fees, and often charge a premium on tickets. MLB has a ticket resale deal with StubHub, the nation’s largest secondary ticket marketplace.
Weiner said that the “first fees fans get hit with are convenience fees, which appear after they make their ticket selection,” but those are followed by a printing fee, which allows a fan to print the ticket at home. “Then the final hit comes with the order processing fee just before the fan clicks to purchase the tickets.”
To address the high fees, Weiner’s proposal requires that all Web sites that sell baseball tickets “display at the beginning of the ticket purchase the total amount of fees as a percent of the ticket price.”
“While it’s unclear from ticket websites who benefits from each of the fees, the Major League Baseball, the teams, and the ticket vendors profit from the online fees. Printing fees in particular go to the online ticket vendors,” Weiner said in the report.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. of New Jersey, who has also proposed ticket legislation in Congress, told TicketNews that he is pleased that Rep. Weiner will also introduce a bill. At the state level, New York legislators are grappling with ticket resale legislation, too.
“One of the indicators last year that I was on the right track with the BOSS ACT [Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing] was seeing the many empty seats in the upper levels at Yankee Stadium. Online ticket sellers have been gouging fans with non-transparent fees that often times double the cost of a ticket from its face value,” Pascrell said. “I am very pleased that Rep. Weiner has joined my call for reform in the ticket industry. User fees are just one aspect the ticketing industry that is crying for reform, and I continue to urge Congress to pass the BOSS ACT to bring some real accountability and transparency to ticketing.”