Last summer we got the word that Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal were coming to town on the same ticket. Should we go? Oh, yes. It’s $68 apiece! Oh, no.
We held off for a while, to give the rationalization process a chance to crank up. Then we climbed back on line and aimed at a pair of tickets, general admission. The electronic gate was presided over by Ticketmaster. I gave Dave the running score. “Okay, that’s $136 for the tickets. Then there’s $9 for processing, $14 for a facilities fee, and another $9 for the convenience fee. Times two.”
When the air returned to the room, Dave demanded to know what a convenience fee was. It was unclear. So we decided to walk downtown, where there was a ticket office for the venue. It was about a seven-mile hike. It was cold, it was raining. We strode up to the box office and asked for two tickets to the BonTaj Tour. The man in the booth totted everything up and asked for an amount of money that was so huge, we made him break it down. “And $18 for the convenience fee,” he finished up.
“Convenience fee?” I hollered, stamping the rain out of my boots. “Why not just call it a Corpulence fee? Or an Impertinence fee? Or…”
The man regarded me with a bland expression. “It’s a corpulence fee,” he said.
So I was on full alert when I learned that Ticketmaster is planning to merge with its rival, Live Nation, and pretty much corner the ticket-sales business. So far, the British Department of Justice thinks it’s a fine idea, as far as it goes, and that can be a long way. Because, honey? It won’t stop there.
Welcome to MasterNation, where we offer all the tools you need to service yourself in the privacy of your own home. All right! Let’s get started. We’ve put you down for two tickets to the upcoming Tom Waits–Yo-Yo Ma concert, and…
Wait a minute. I didn’t order any–whoa! Did you say Tom Waits and Yo-Yo Ma are coming to town?
Eventually. Yo-Yo Ma plays with everybody.
Well I have to admit that sounds wonderful. Where do I click to pay?
Oh you’ve already paid. Thanks to our newest partnerships with AccuVac and Bank Of America, we’ve been siphoning money out of your checking account in modest, regular increments, building you a sound down-payment structure for the future. You won’t even notice it, did you? And with our complimentary rate-comparison feature, thanks to last week’s merger with Progressive Insurance, you can shop for the best loan rates to make up the difference.
That is convenient. But I’ve never given you the password to my accounts.
Sure you have. We just employed our simple, patented algorithm using the information you supplied to the Facebook app during “What’s your pirate name” week.
And we’ll be sending your tickets via the Postal Service, as you always prefer. There will be an additional shipping charge of $10.
The Post Office doesn’t charge that much to mail two tickets.
That includes the Postal Service Destruction Fee. We’d rather you used our preferred partner, UPS. You’ll get your tickets within a week, and you can re-use the box. Don’t fret–your account is plumping up nicely. You’ve already got enough in there to cover the Walter-Tops Tour, even with the you’re-not-paying-attention surcharge.
I’ve never heard of the Walter-Tops.
You will. You’ll like them.
How in the world can you know that?
We have a new association with one of the finest search engines on the planet.
Yahoo for you. But how can you be sure who I’m going to want to see?
That’s not a problem, Clickenheimer. Go ahead and answer the door; I’ll wait.
The doorbell rang.
It was a hot lonely Russian blonde. She wished meeting for ride my love pony.