Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Smith's Tix Defends Unpredictable Fees
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Michelle Poe
Edited by Aaron Colborn
Photography by Brain Morris
(KUTV) Josh Campbell says he loves to go to concerts. When he heard that one of his favorite bands, Flogging Molly was coming to town, he was pumped.
The concert was happening at SaltAir which does not have a box office. Josh's only option if he wanted to see the show was to buy from Smith's Tix.
Josh got online, going to the website for Smith's Tix to buy tickets. The face value of the ticket was $23, but when he clicked to buy, the price quickly went up. There is a $2 facility fee and a secret "service charge." It wasn’t until Josh clicked all the way through to the checkout page that he learned the real price of the ticket was $34.76.
Josh says that more frustrating is that the fees are inconsistent. We looked through dozens of Smith's Tix live events all with varying "processing," and "convenience" and "facility" and" handling" fees that usually jack up the advertised ticket price. Perhaps the most telling example came from upper bowl Utah Jazz tickets. The ticket is advertised at $8 but the fees add up to $10.75 leaving you paying $18.75 for that $8 dollar ticket.
“It's almost like someone is just randomly picking, okay we'll charge this much,” Josh said. “The fees are just really expensive on top of the ticket.”
Wanting to know what he is really paying for when he pays fees, Josh decided to Get Gephardt to investigate.
Smith’s Tix general manager Dee Dee Hill says that her company is not responsible for the majority of the fees. She says that most of the fees are charged by the venues, the event promoters and sometimes even the performers. But without the fees, she doubts Utah would continue to draw the top tier performers that come through our middle sized market.
“You've got a lot of egos and a lot of people with their fingers in the pie,” she said. “Sometimes even I'm shocked [by the fees].”
Hill says that Smith's Tix does it's best to break down the fees on their website but the definitions are vague and repetitive. For example, a convenience fee is defined as "allowing Smith's Tix to provide the widest range of available tickets while giving you multiple ways to purchase." The processing fee reads kind of the same way, saying that fee covers “the cost to fulfill your ticket request."
As for not disclosing the fees upfront, Hill says that Smith's Tix is not trying to fool anyone.
“It always says fees not included. Any of our advertising says the price of the ticket, fees not included.”
As for Josh, he says if a fee is unavoidable, it's not a fee it's the cost of the ticket. He says the fees should be told to customers up front.
Our investigation found that in several cases, many or all of the fees can be avoided by buying directly from the venue hosting the event. But, that requires that the venue has a box office. It also can be a gamble as popular events may sell out before a customer can make it to the box office.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)