Even Joe Biden is sick of annoying and excessive fees. To take action, the president is reportedly hosting executives from the likes of SeatGeek, Live Nation Ticketmaster, Airbnb, xBk, DICE, TickPick, Wisconsin’s Pablo Center at the Confluence, and Rhode Island’s Newport Festivals Foundation at the White House today to put a stop to surprising junk fees.
The White House says that Biden is set to announce what the aforementioned companies are doing to target or eliminate junk fees. Ticket giant Live Nation, for example, is reportedly set to unveil all-in pricing, which will allow customers to view the total ticket price including fees before checkout, and provide it to all venues it owns in September. Likewise, Ticketmaster will give the option for customers to view all-in pricing. SeatGeek is rolling out a similar tool while Airbnb unveiled a total price view back in November, with a rollout in December. Junk fees have been in Biden’s crosshairs since he highlighted his vendetta against them in his State of the Union address back in February, according to CBS News.
“Junk fees may not matter to the very wealthy, but they matter to most folks in homes like the one I grew up in. They add up to hundreds of dollars a month,” Biden said in the speech, as quoted by CBS News. “I know how unfair it feels when a company overcharges you and gets away with it.”
While junk fees have been annoying concertgoers and sports fans alike for years, the issue truly came to a head in the public consciousness this fall. After singer-songwriter Taylor Swift announced her highly anticipated first tour in five years, dubbed The Eras Tour, Ticketmaster crashed as Swifties flocked to the tour’s presale. While Ticketmaster outages were understandably enraging for fans, many Swifties were also dismayed by the excessive ticket prices—a jarring portion of those prices were made up of excess fees.
Related: Presale Postmortem: Swifties, Now Is the Time to Overthrow the Ticketmaster Monopoly
During a Senate hearing following The Eras Tour presale madness, Live Nation Entertainment President and CFO Joe Berchtold testified that the company has done nothing but improve the artist-fan relationship since Live Nation and Ticketmaster merged in 2010. Berchtold further claimed that Ticketmaster does not set prices, does not decide how many tickets go on sale, and does not set service fees, and that Ticketmaster shifted the blame and claimed that it wasn’t the enemy in the outages during The Eras Tour, it was bots.
While Live Nation, Ticketmaster, SeatGeek, and Airbnb are certainly making an effort to appear more transparent to consumers, the fees themselves are the core issue and are, typically, nonsensical. While customers are frequently hit with service fees or convenience fees upon checkout, Clyde Lawrence and Jordan Cohen of the band Lawrence testified to Congress during the same hearing that Live Nation Ticketmaster will frequently charge artists fees through the company’s subsidiaries—like a “facility fee” for something as small as clean towels—while also charging fans fees for ticket purchases that could be up to 80% of the individual ticket price.