How to avoid paying service fees when buying tickets online

How to avoid paying service fees when buying tickets online

money What can you do to dodge hidden service fees when buying tickets on the secondary ticket market?

Above all else, STOP searching for “cheap tickets” on Google.  Why?  Because there are websites that appear at the top of such searches that are designed to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers.  They promise low prices and offer discounts via promo codes, then sock you with a substantially large fee at the end of your order.


The truth is, they may have the cheapest tickets at first sight.  But that’s only because they intentionally knock a few dollars off of ticket prices (ironically other brokers’ tickets, because they don’t have any) and make up the difference (plus much more) on fees charged at the end of the transaction.  Those same service fees are then used to pay for advertising on search engines to recruit more buyers, and the cycle continues.

The difference between a ticket broker and a listing service

Ticket brokers purchase tickets from season ticket holders and fans who can not attend an event.  In essence, they take risks based upon professional experience with the intention to resell the tickets for more than what they paid for them. They physically own an inventory of tickets and change ticket prices according to supply and demand, so most do not need to charge any additional fees.

A listing website does not own any tickets whatsoever. Instead, they re-list ticket brokers’ tickets and charge a fee to “help” you find them.

They discount a ticket’s price slightly so that when people are comparison shopping it looks as if they have the lowest prices.  Sometimes they offer discount codes to further demonstrate how great of a deal they’re giving.  Once the buyer has decided to purchase tickets, they add on a service fee that negates the lower cost-per-ticket and discount offered.

After an order has been placed through the listing website, it’s sent through to the broker who owns the tickets.  The order is processed, filled, and shipped out by the broker who owns the tickets.  The website where the tickets were originally listed claims no further responsibility to the buyer unless the tickets are unavailable.  Of course, this is only after they’ve collected the fee they charged you.

In the six years that I’ve been doing this, I have never seen an order come through from a listing service that ended up being cheaper than if we had sold the tickets to the customer directly.

Here’s an example:

A customer wanted four lower level tickets to a Blackhawks game.  After someone recommended Gold Coast Tickets’ website, he found tickets that he liked for $150 each.

Just to be sure he was getting the best deal, he searched “cheap Blackhawks tickets” online and compared prices on the sites he saw listed within the first few search results.

The exact same tickets that were on Gold Coast’s website were listed on another site but for $146 each, and the site was offering a $25 discount to new customers.  He chose to purchase the tickets on the site that seemingly had the better deal.

When he was ready to complete the transaction, he noticed a $17 per ticket service fee had been added to the total.  He went forward with the purchase, only to find out that the tickets were coming from a broker – Gold Coast Tickets – after he had placed the order.

Had he purchased the tickets from the holding broker (Gold Coast Tickets) in the first place, Joe would have saved $26.90.

Ticket Price



Service Fee



Gold Coast Tickets







Listing Website



– $25

$17 x 4 tickets



How can you tell if you’re buying from a listing service?

It’s simple: if the tickets seem less expensive than other sites and they charge a service fee after you’ve made up your mind to purchase the tickets, it’s highly likely they are a listing service.  If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t hesitate to call your guy at Gold Coast Tickets.  We’re here to help.


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