British rock band The Cure said they went out of their way to price tickets affordably for their upcoming North American tour, including some as low as $20.
But as tickets went on sale Wednesday, fans’ excitement over the low prices was dampened by the realization that, in some case, fees added on to the purchase exceeded the base ticket price on Ticketmaster.
By the end of the week, though, Ticketmaster and The Cure said concertgoers who purchased $20 tickets through the platform would be refunded $10 per ticket. People who bought more expensive tickets will get a $5 refund per ticket, frontman Robert Smith said on Twitter.
“After further conversation, Ticketmaster have agreed with us that many of the fees being charged are unduly high,” Smith wrote.
The controversy marked the latest chapter in the push-and-pull between music fans, artists, and Ticketmaster over pricing, availability, and scalping.
After purchasing a $20 ticket, some fans reported paying over $21 in service and facility fees, plus a $5.50 order processing fee.
The fees varied across venues — someone reported a $16.75 service fee in Massachusetts, and another fan reported $15 in Toronto — and they didn’t always exceed the base ticket price. Some better seats cost $90 each, for example.
But the sale underscored the frustration fans have felt in recent months as their favorite artists, from Taylor Swift to Beyoncé to The Cure, rely on Ticketmaster to sell out arenas and stadiums.
The bungled presale of Swift's Eras Tour in November brought Ticketmaster, owned by Live Nation Entertainment, under scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers who accused the company of operating like a monopoly due to its domination of the ticketing industry.
At a congressional hearing on the issue in January, the question of fees was a point of contention and confusion. Live Nation President Joe Berchtold said fees "are set by the venues," not Live Nation. The company owns and operates over 130 popular concert venues across the country.
Swift and Beyoncé fans also reported high fees, some costing in the hundreds for VIP shows.
The Cure, a post-punk and new wave group that rose to international fame in the 1980s, used Ticketmaster's Verified Fan program for its presale, which allows fan to pre-register for a chance to get tickets.
The band said on Twitter that it wanted tickets to be "affordable for all fans," and hoped to reduce the number of scalpers who resell tickets at a high price. Some state laws, they said, limit their ability to do that.