Arguably the most common complaint about buying tickets, besides having to deal with lagging websites during peak demand times, is the presence of hidden fees, surcharges, and the various tack-ons ticket providers are notorious for.

The hidden fees and charges dramatically increase the price of tickets, sticking customers with a hefty bill packed with vague fees like “processing”. So why don’t ticket providers do more to provide transparent, all-in-one pricing?

Simply put: because it’s bad for business. As Digital Music News reports, when ticketing agencies provide customers with all-in-one pricing that displays the final cost upfront, people actually buy less tickets.

StubHub, one of the largest ticketing providers in the world, are now ending their policy of displaying all-in-one pricing after sales dropped roughly 20 percent during their brief experiment with the practice, according to calculations by the Wall Street Journal.

“The hope was that the industry would follow and that would yield greater transparency,” StubHub president Stephen Cutler told the Wall Street Journal. This wasn’t the case and StubHub’s business suffered.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, few competitors went along with StubHub’s initiative and all of a sudden, the company’s rivals looked like a much better deal than StubHub, at least in preliminary search results on comparison sites.

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For example, the same seats to an AC/DC concert in Los Angeles were recently listed as $385 on StubHub, $278 on and $282 on a website operated by Online City Tickets. However, accounting for fees, Vivid was closer to $348.70 and Online City, $374.10.

In response, in August StubHub began splitting their results to display ‘all-in’ results to some customers and ‘non-transparent, hidden’ prices to others. The A/B testing, according to the company, caused a small uptick in overall sales, with hidden-pricing driving the gain.

As a result, StubHub will return to non-transparent, hidden pricing, at least on default displaying – the pricing displayed by search engines and comparison sites. Other providers, meanwhile, have little interest in experimenting with transparent pricing.

According to DMN, several years ago, former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard promised all-in, one-price ticketing, while the company was in fact moving in the other direction. Last year, Ticketmaster settled a long-running class action suit involving illegally-inflated order processing and delivery fees.

It’s important to note, of course, that Australian consumers are lucky to have laws in place that prevent misleading pricing and hidden tacked-on fees when purchasing tickets.

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