News / USA

Hidden Charges Inflate Price Tag

Shrouding conceals real cost of purchase

The ticket clerk is smiling. We don’t see the customer’s face.
The ticket clerk is smiling. We don’t see the customer’s face.

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Ted Landphair

A while back, a friend of ours took his son to a professional basketball game. He walked up to an arena window and purchased two tickets for $40 apiece. But his credit card was NOT charged $80.

The clerk assessed an additional $3 "service charge" per ticket. This prompted our friend to ask a logical question:

"I came and got the tickets. So what ‘service’ did the team provide? Doesn’t the ticket cost cover the ‘service’ of printing it and selling me two seats?"

The answer is no, it doesn’t. And guess what? The add-on charge would have applied, even if he had paid cash.

This practice of piling on mysterious extra charges is mushrooming. Another friend bought three baseball tickets. They were cheap compared to basketball - just $15 apiece.

But listen to the add-ons:

Great seats! They cost a pretty penny, and probably additional ones for “convenience charges” and other fees.
Great seats! They cost a pretty penny, and probably additional ones for “convenience charges” and other fees.

A $4 "convenience fee," whatever that is, on EACH ticket. A $3.50 "processing charge" on the total order. And another $1.75 because our friend bought and printed his tickets online. That’s almost $18 extra - a 60-percent markup!

Heaping on charges is called "shrouding." You shroud, or conceal, the REAL costs of goods and services until it comes time to pay the bill. As the New York Times reported, shrouding is common at places like restaurants, where sparkling water poured at your table can significantly boost your bill; rental-car counters and auto dealers, where there’s a litany of extras and warranties and insurance fees that show up only in fine print; and on airplane reservations, where extra booking and baggage fees are legendary.

So if you’re thinking of attending a U.S. sporting event, bring money - not just for tickets, food, and drinks, but also for all manner of "convenience charges" that are especially "convenient" to the team’s bank account.

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