Ticketmaster will refund some of its fees to fans buying tickets for the Cure’s US tour, after frontman Robert Smith took them to task over their “unduly high” fees that were, in some cases, adding up to more than the price of a ticket.
On Thursday, Smith told fans that he was “as sickened as you all are” and he would contact Ticketmaster after many took to social media to complain about the ticket sales behemoth’s additional fees.
“I have been asking how they are justified,” Smith wrote to fans in a trademark caps lock tweet. “If I get anything coherent by way of an answer I will let you all know.”
The band had purposefully kept tickets affordable, with some as low as $20 (£16). But fans shared screenshots of Ticketmaster shopping baskets with varying fees across different venues: one image showed combined fees that exceeded the cost of a $20 ticket – each subject to a service fee of $11.65 and a facility charge of $10, plus an overall order processing fee of $5.50.
The fees were levied by Ticketmaster as part of its Verified Fan program, which allows fans to register for an advance sale that is aimed at preventing tickets being sold to touts and bots for resale.
Later on Thursday, Smith issued an update. “After further conversation, Ticketmaster have agreed with us that many of the fees being charged are unduly high, and as a gesture of goodwill have offered a $10 per ticket refund to all verified fan accounts for lowest ticket price (‘ltp’) transactions,” he wrote.
For all fans who bought more expensive tickets, Ticketmaster would issue a $5 refund per ticket for any show on the US tour, he added.
Refunds would be automatic for anyone who had already bought a ticket, while future ticket sales would incur lower fees, Smith said.
Earlier in the week, Smith explained that the band had chosen to use Ticketmaster in order to combat scalping, but had declined to participate in the company’s dynamic pricing and Platinum ticket schemes as they did not want ticket prices to be “instantly and horribly distorted by resale”.
Musicians such as Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift have used the dynamic pricing system, which has seen individual tickets end up selling for thousands of dollars.
The backlash to the Cure ticket fees is the latest example of Ticketmaster’s sales model provoking anger. In November, it cancelled the general sale for tickets for Swift’s Eras tour because demand for the verified fan sale had left “insufficient remaining ticket inventory”. Swift described the situation as “excruciating”, while the US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for a break-up of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which merged in 2010, calling it a “monopoly”.
In January, the US Senate held a hearing about the company to hear testimony about ticket sales, monopolisation, resale markets and Ticketmaster’s influence on the live music industry.
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