CCE Cuts Fees In Boston

Patricia A. Malone, Boston’s director of consumer affairs, couldn’t understand why a family of five could drive to a venue box office to purchase circus tickets and end up paying almost the price of an additional ducat in “convenience” fees. Neither could Mayor Thomas Menino.

Complaints from the public and a recent article in the Boston Globe that showed Boston’s theatre prices were higher than other cities, including New York, prompted Malone and Menino to approach Clear Channel Entertainment about eliminating box office fees for walk-up customers at all of its venues.

“We were aghast that people went to the circus with their families, and they’re standing in line at the box office with their $48 for a single ticket, and then there’s another $7 tacked on to that,” Malone told Pollstar. “It’s extremely hard for families. So we asked them why, if people go out of the way to drive to your box office, do they have to pay this fee?”

Michael Rapino, CCE’s Global Music president, has been spreading the word the last few months that his company intended to lower ticket fees – at its sheds. But after recent talks between the mayor’s staff and CCE, the conglomerate agreed to eliminate those fees from its Boston theatres, too. Now, several local clubs – some outside of CCE’s sphere of influence – are taking note.

Clubs where ticket sales are mostly done via phone or Internet, including the Paradise Rock Club, have agreed to freeze the convenience and service fees at 2004 levels, rather than raise them this year.

Malone noted that the elimination of convenience fees will not apply to telephone or Internet ticket purchases, but the agreement includes notification to those purchasers that they can buy tickets at the box office without the additional fees.

While concert and non-theatre venues in the city will eliminate the walk-up fees, others – theatres in particular – have agreed to lower their ticket prices drastically which, in turn, pushes down the add-ons.

Included in the deal are the dozen or so theatre venues either owned or operated by CCE, such as the newly refurbished Opera House and the Wilbur Theatre. They’ve agreed to cut ticket prices themselves anywhere from 13 to 23 percent, Malone said.