Americans Say Event Ticketing Is Most Overpriced Industry

When you think of unexpected charges and super-high fees, what industry comes to mind? There are many different businesses that are known for tacking on extra expenses, from airline baggage fees to international conversion fees on credit cards and more. But we wanted to know which of these industries Americans believe is the worst when it comes to overcharging customers.

Here’s what we found:

Chart: Which of these industries overcharges the most?

Nearly a Quarter Say Live Events and Ticket Sellers Overcharge Most

When asked which industry they believed was the most guilty of overcharging their customers, 23 percent said ticket vendors overcharged the most. According to a 2018 report by the Government Accountability Office, the total fees on the average ticket come out to 27 percent of the price of the ticket itself.

Graphic: 60% say airlines, car mainetnance and ticket sales are worse about overcharging customers than banks and credit card companies

Complaints about the ticket vending industry are not uncommon. In fact, New Jersey Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr., even introduced a bill called the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act in June of 2019 in an effort to require ticket sellers to disclose all ticket fees and associated charges up front, before beginning to collect information from a potential buyer.

Airlines and Car Maintenance Tie for Second

Behind ticket and event sales, Americans identified airlines and car maintenance as being the industries that overcharge the most. Each of the two industries garnered 19 percent of survey respondents’ votes, with banks and credit cards trailing closely with 17 percent.

Graphic: 1 in 5 Americans say airlines overcharge the most

Interestingly, the average cost of airfare has actually decreased over the past two decades. According to the Bureau of Transportation, the average plane ticket in 1995 would have cost $489 after adjusting for inflation, while the average plane ticket in 2019 was just $354.

However, a 2019 ValuePenguin survey found that nearly 56 percent of Americans who flew in the 12 months prior believed that airline customer service is declining. So although airfare prices are falling, customers may still feel overcharged if they believe the quality of airline service has declined even more quickly than cost.

Americans Don’t Mind Paying for Shipping and Delivery

At the bottom of our survey results, food delivery services and online retail and shipping were the two industries that survey respondents said overcharge the least. Just 6 percent said food delivery overcharges most, while 4 percent selected online retail and shipping.

Graphic: Less than 10% say food delivery or online retail and shipping are the worst about overcharging customers

Research shows that people generally have a generous attitude toward delivery professionals. A 2019 survey by US Foods found that 28 percent are willing to pay up to $15 for delivery, service and gratuity on a food order. The same survey found that 54 percent believe deliverers are more deserving of their tips than dine-in restaurant servers.

Graphic: 85% had an unexpected charge in the past 2 years

Across industries, hidden charges and fees are some of the most frustrating expenses that customers encounter. A 2018 Consumer Reports survey found that 85 percent of Americans had encountered an unexpected charge in the two years prior, and two-thirds believed they were paying more in fees than they had been five years earlier. 

As these hidden charges become larger and more frequent, they become an even greater threat to Americans’ financial health, making it more important for individuals to ensure they have total control over their money matters. Once these debts add up, they can be difficult to pay off, so it’s essential to be informed and consider getting a credit consultant involved when your expenses become difficult to control and you want to stay on top of your credit.


This study was conducted for Lexington Law using Google Consumer Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. This survey was conducted in March 2020.