Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Joining the club

Ticket-buyers for concerts and events always have been rather inelastic in their consumer habits, as the economists would say. Put another way, they'll pay almost anything.

Welcome, then, to a discussion of Ticketmaster.

I went online to check out the price of a couple of tickets to an upcoming concert at a local amusement park. The tickets were about $80 and $60 each. Yes, that's a lot of money, but at least you know you'll get a professional show, and the band only comes around every few years.

For the $80 seat, care to guess what the "convenience charge" is? About $12.60. Each. Then after you give your credit card information, an extra few dollars is quietly tacked on to the order just before purchasing. The $60 seat reduces the convenience charge to a little more than $10.

So, I took the cheap way out. I went to Macy's, found the Ticketmaster outlet in the midst of a large collection of women's intimate apparel, and bought it. The convenience charge is still there, although the add-on charge at the end wasn't. I didn't find it all that convenient, either.

So, I had to pay an extra 17 percent for my tickets, and I had no alternative. I don't think the box office at the amusement park is even open for such purchases.

No doubt about it. I'm in the wrong business.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Map quest

Call this yet another reason to wonder about television news.

One of the local stations at 6 p.m. the other day introduced a report on an unsafe bridge. It was complete with sound bites on how you'd have to wonder why anyone drives over the bridge, and why there's a fight over fixing the darn thing. I didn't have the stop watch on it, but it must have run 90-120 seconds.

The bridge's location? Viewers would have to wait until 11 p.m. to find out. Good thing I wasn't driving anywhere in the meantime.

It's easy to expect teasing news reports during Sweeps periods. This one, though, went way over the line of good judgment.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fan mail

I did something unusual the other night. I watched a sporting event on television -- Buffalo Sabres vs. New York Rangers -- in a bar with some friends. The game was exciting, my friends were fine, the picture and sound were crisp, the beer was cold and the popcorn was free.

Still, it was an odd experience. I had to listen to some other fans during the game. Yuck.

Keep something in mind here -- the Sabres were the league's best team during the regular season. They beat the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs, and had a 2-1 lead going into Game Four in New York. By any standards, this is a pretty good team ... no matter what was going to happen on this night.

For two periods, I had to listen to fans' comments at the next table. They were enough to make me scream.

Jochen Hecht was a horrible player. Jaroslav Spacek was acquired for no apparent reason. The passing was horrible. The coaching was worse. The referee always hated Buffalo. You'd never know it was a 2-1 game, decided by a non-call on a goal in the final seconds. And so on. Some of the remarks were punctuated by obscenities, just to add a little spice.

Now, some of these people were wearing Sabre apparel, so they obviously had some rooting interest in the team. So if these were the friends of the team, what do the enemies sound like?

I'll be happy to defend anyone's Constitutional right to be wrong about their views of sport. But that doesn't mean I'm forced to sit next to them.