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The Cubs gouge fans more than any team in baseball

Jun 25, 2012, 10:31 AM EDT

stack of money

Every year Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times does a little research on ticket “convenience” fees to determine which baseball team is gouging its fans with these seemingly useless add-ons for every ticket sold.  This year’s champions of avarice: the Chicago Cubs who charge a “convenience fee” of $6.14 per ticket and an additional four bucks for “processing.”

At least if you’re buying group tickets. If you’re buying  just one the Red Sox get you the worst, but their tacked-on fee is per order, not per ticket, so that’s mitigated a bit with multiple ticket orders.

The least gouging team: the Reds, who charge a mere buck-o-three per ticket.

Chris goes on to point out the irrationality of these fees. Which go up depending on the price of your ticket. Which means that the fees have nothing to do with “processing” at all, because it should cost no more to process an expensive ticket than a cheap one.  And that’s before noting that teams also charge YOU a most inconvenient “convenience” fee for printing out a ticket on your own printer, which should make things easier for them and save them money, so why are they charging you?

Of course you’ve likely observed that already. And given that they’re charging over $5 for a bottle of water on a hot day, none of the gouging in general should surprise you either.

  1. danaking - Jun 25, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    I’d go to more games if they were honest about the pricing. Two $24 tickets should not cost $61. If they told me the ticket cost $30.50, I’d pay it and not think twice. The add-ons–none of which add value to me–are an insult.

    • Detroit Michael - Jun 25, 2012 at 10:46 AM

      While I personally agree that the extra charges are annoying, it seems like it must work in the aggregate or else the teams wouldn’t all be structuring the fees in this way.

      • pharmerbrown - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:47 AM

        It’s not just baseball, or team sports, or anything. It’s a new way of thinking. Banks charge an overdraft fee, unlee you pay for overdraft protection, in which case you pay half the fee. Concert tickets have all kinds of fees associated with them. I set up mail forwarding via USPS online, and it cost me a buck. Take a look at your cable bill, cell phone bill, utility bill, anything. There are fees for about everything, and most are unavoidable. Unless you go to the box office and buy tickets, you will pay some kind of fee.

        And they get away with it because they can. And by “they”, I am referring to everyone and everything. This article praises the Reds, because they charge the LEAST fee. But there is still a fee.

      • Kevin S. - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:54 AM

        Everybody except Southwest Airlines. I recently booked a flight, and then was floored to see that my total cost was exactly the sum of the advertised prices for both legs.

  2. chadjones27 - Jun 25, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Can’t Congress do something about this?

    • Kevin S. - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:09 AM

      Yeah, that’s what we need, more congressional interference in private business!

      • paperlions - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        Actually, that is exactly what we need….the lack of regulation (which was systematically removed over the last few decades) of business is pretty much what has the economy in its current condition. Excellent for the ultra-rich, not so much if you work for a living (unless, of course, you work/live on one of the countries american businesses have shipped all of their jobs to…then, it isn’t so bad).

      • hansob - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM

        If figuring out ways to charge people more money without actually charging more money for the underlying product was that detrimental to the ecomony, we’d have imploded long ago.

      • Kevin S. - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        I’ll admit that I got the blanket-statement ball rolling here, but I would actually argue that we have a mix of under- and over-regulation, depending on the industry. Specifically, I’d usually argue for more regulation of government-approved local monopolies (think utilities, cable, etc.), but in this case it just seems like a waste of time. There are always massive information gaps when the government attempts to regulate private prices. In the case of various “essential” markets, the compliance costs are worthwhile to ensure a reasonable consumer surplus, but in the case of a baseball team, Congress butting their nose into the stadium’s pricing practices is a gigantic waste of time. I’d be fine with some state or municipal control over pricing as a condition of public financing, but to the best of my knowledge the Cubs have not as of yet taken state money for Wrigley Field.

  3. natslady - Jun 25, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    I don’t live far from the stadium. It’s worth the gas and time to go to the box office. Or I purchase tickets when I’m at a game (though they try to hide the advance sales office, you can find it!)

  4. heyblueyoustink - Jun 25, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    I don’t see what all the bitching is about considering the tremendous talent they put on the field on an every game basis.

    • paperlions - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      Sarcasm people….it was sarcasm. Cubs, talent…haha, and so on. You know, sarcasm.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        Yeesh, you mean these things have to be explained? Maybe it’s just a case of the Mondays

      • paperlions - Jun 25, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        Well, when I posted that the vote was 12 up and 13 down….so…yeah, I think an explanation might help….kind of kills the effect though, don’t it?

  5. Glenn - Jun 25, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    I have been in the process of purchasing tickets on line for sports or concerts and terminated the sale when these extra fees appear at the end of the transaction – just out of general principle. As “danaking” says above, it is insulting.

  6. tonyricemajorharris - Jun 25, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Capitalism at its best- or worst. Boycott going to games

  7. jonboy66 - Jun 25, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    “Which means that the fees have nothing to do with “processing” at all, because it should cost no more to process an expensive ticket than a cheap one.”

    Actually this is incorrect.

    Credit Card Companies/Financial Institutions charge a percentage per transaction. 4% is pretty common, so let’s just use that for this example.

    On a $10 ticket the cost to process the credit card transaction is $0.40.
    On a $25 ticket the cost to process the credit card transaction is $1.00

    The processing fee should increase based on the price of the ticket. It’s the convenience and facility fees that see to be the real issue.

    • chadjones27 - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:24 AM

      I believe companies can negotiate with credit card companies so it’s a “per transaction” fee. So, if that’s the case, then it would cost the same. The only problem here is that we don’t know what the Teams (or MLB) have set up with the banks.

    • mgdsquiggy17 - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      also have to remember that they are getting charged from ticketmaster or tickets.com or whoever the provider is for each ticket (or paying a lump sum) that they sell (for using the product or whatever it is) and then the cost of that is being pushed back onto the customer. It’s not like they are pocketing the extra $6 as just free money. Not saying it’s right to charge that much but there’s more to it then just oh let’s charge $6 just bc we can.

  8. Old Gator - Jun 25, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    Not nearly as much as they gouged the Beanbags in the Theo Epstein trade.

    Hahahahahaha…..

  9. quizguy66 - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Given their shoddy treatment of Bartman, the self-proclaimed “greatest fans in the world” deserve it.

    -QG

    • Alex K - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      I think you have Cubs and Cardinals fans confused. I, as a Cubs fan, have never heard anyone (Cubs fan or otherwise) proclaim us to be the greatest fans in the world.

      • groundruledoublebourbon - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM

        Yes, the greatest fans are the (self-titled) Cardinals fans. And if you need this confirmed, clear off your afternoon schedule, hide all sharp objects, and call your dearest STL fan – they’ll gladly tell you about this for hours.

      • grizz2202 - Jun 26, 2012 at 3:49 PM

        This is true, we (Cardinal Nation) are the greatest fans in the world. CONFIRMED.

  10. bbk1000 - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Once again, these high prices allow them to put a quality product on the field..er, never mind.

  11. kopy - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    I’ve never understood why it costs me money to print out a ticket on my own computer, when picking up at Will Call is free. The latter requires the team to pay for ticket window representatives, the former would seemingly require nothing.

    • Kevin S. - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      Demand-side economics. Since the Cubs act like a monopolist here, they don’t have to set price at marginal costs, but can instead exploit people at different points of the demand curve. Many people will pay for the extra convenience of printing their tickets at home instead of dealing with the time and hassle of waiting in line at Will Call. Second-degree price discrimination at work.

      Sorry, taking a class in Industrial Organization right now, that pretty much exactly what we’re covering at the moment.

      • kopy - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:04 PM

        It does make sense, as I’m fortunate enough to a Bachelor’s in Economics. I guess I just misjudged the human behavior of it. I usually always opt for Will Call since I’ve never found the line to be long, if there even is one, and I appreciate the potential for me to forget bringing my tickets being taken out of the equation.

        I suppose all the convenience fees will easily compensate the attendant at the Will Call window, if most people prefer to print.

      • Kevin S. - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:06 PM

        The line’s never long because most people typically opt to print at home. If more people acted like you, then the lines would be more of a nuisance, and you’d have people shifting back to printing at home. Equilibrium!

  12. mgdsquiggy17 - Jun 25, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    “I’ve never understood why it costs me money to print out a ticket on my own computer, when picking up at Will Call is free. The latter requires the team to pay for ticket window representatives, the former would seemingly require nothing.”

    Typically teams/arena’s/etc are charged by their ticket provider (ticketmaster, etc..) some fee to email the tickets so in turn that fee is then put back on the customer. Another reason why.

  13. gloccamorra - Jun 25, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    There’s at least SOME justification for transaction fees. If ball clubs really want to gouge, there are other potential fees to add. In some states, landlords are allowed to charge tenants a separate fee for water. I can see extra charges to users for wi-fi access, but could they add a charge to the ticket price for seat cleaning fees, aisle sweeping fees, restroom cleaning fees, etc.?

  14. deepstblu - Jun 25, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    I can remember paying $1.50 for a Cubs bleacher ticket. And I’m not a geezer, I swear. This was during modern times, we had Touch-Tone phones, VCRs were coming into style, some places had cable (12 channels!)…

  15. brewcrewfan54 - Jun 25, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    I enjoy going to watch my Brewers play and I live a reasonable 30 minutes away from the stadium. As much as I enjoy them though I prefer sitting at my favorite tavern instead now. No extra costs at all and the beer is cheaper and the bathroom closer.

  16. godcanfirealdavis - Jun 25, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Best park and fans in baseball… I’m surprised they havnt realized that and charged much , much, more… Baseball just isn’t the same at tropicana field in st. pete or the coliseum in oakland.. You cubs fans have the fanbase to fund it.

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