Sunk Cost Psychology Reinforces Added Hidden Ticket Fees

A survey found that in the UK, 93% of event ticketers add “drip fees” on to transactions.  As you probably suspect, those are the undisclosed added fees that pop up as you go through the purchasing process.  They appear in more than just event ticket transactions. Though in the UK, event ticketers had added the fees at double the national average.

Drip pricing occurs when consumers are shown an initial price for a good/service (known as the base price) while additional fees are revealed (or “dripped”) later in the checkout process. These “dripped” fees can either be mandatory (e.g., booking fees) or optional (e.g., seat reservation on a flight). This practice means that consumers may be “baited” into choosing a product because of its (low) base price, yet possibly have to pay a much higher price to complete the purchase as consumers do not become aware of dripped fees until they have already started the checkout process.

As the article notes, one of the challenges to getting rid of the fees is that no one wants to be the first to provide the honest total price up front for fear of losing out to their competitors. If you see a flight for $99 and another for $250, the psychology of sunk cost will keep many people from abandoning a transaction in favor of the more honest airline after realizing the $99 ticket is $300 after fees because they have already spent a fair bit of time choosing seats, putting in address and credit card information.

Seeing that there is little benefit to being honest about the cost up front, many companies will resort to advertising a low price and then having add on fees for every choice you make.

Essentially what is required are rules to force people to reveal fees up front, or no one will do it. The danger is that unless the rules are particularly well-written, there are always opportunities label added fees in a way that slips through the cracks and then the whole practice starts over again.

Frank Lloyd Wright Didn’t Want A/C In Dallas Theater He Designed

I came across an interesting story about the only theater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  The 400 seat Kalita Humphreys Theater, constructed in 1959,  is one of the Dallas Theater Center‘s spaces, apparently one they primarily used prior to the 2009 completion of Dee & Charles Wyly Theater about two miles away.   The Kalita, as it is referred to in the story, is in need of some major repairs, many of which are outlined in the story.

The parts of the article which are most interesting to me are the influences, both good and bad, the famed architect had on the space. Tommie Ethington, who wrote the piece marvels at the intimacy of the space where you no more than 13 rows from the stage and the optical illusions created by windows, lack of right angles, and curve of the stairs.

Wright’s vision:

It involved eschewing the traditional setup, with a proscenium stage—in which audiences stare straight ahead with a single, framed view—and instead creating a circular, revolving stage that joined the actors and audience in a more unified space.

However, his vision was not always conducive to easily operating a theater. Wright would apparently have rather have staff move things by hand and audiences sweat than to install elevators and A/C.

Wright wanted windows at the back of the auditorium, but Baker worried they would interfere with stage lighting. Wright vehemently opposed a freight elevator, insisting that sets and props be wheeled up subterranean ramps (an elevator was secretly installed without Wright’s knowledge). Wright even went so far as to suggest no air-conditioning, a thought immediately dismissed by Texans who knew better.

According to his daughter Robyn Flatt, the first time Baker saw the plans for the theater, he told Wright they simply would not work. “Wright was furious,” she says. “He threw my dad out of [Wright’s home] Taliesin West and told him he could walk back to town.”

The city of Dallas technically owns the Kalita so funding for renovations will require their involvement to some extent. Political will is also involved in other respects in the form of Texas’ Drag Ban which is both noted in this article and in a Washington Post article that suggests Dallas Theater Center’s makes the mounting of the Rocky Horror Show at The Kalita a political act.

Fewer Non-Profits Engaging In Lobbying Advocacy Than 20 Years Ago

According to a story on the Associated Press, fewer non-profits are engaging in lobbying efforts than 20 years ago. The Independent Sector had commissioned a study that found less than 1/3 of organizations engaged in lobbying over the last five years versus nearly 3/4  of organizations in 2000. Given that there was a lot of advocacy for Covid funding, these results make me wonder if more people weren’t engaged in lobbying in the last five years and didn’t consider what they were doing to be lobbying or if fewer entities did a lot of the heavy lifting versus twenty years ago.

The survey results do seem to indicate organizations are unaware of lobbying rules or uncomfortable with engaging in lobbying and lack the resources to participate.

And even though nonprofits work on a range of issues that are affected by policy choices, such as funding for the arts and science and policies on hot-button issues like abortion and gun control, less than one-third of nonprofits said they were well-versed in how to legally conduct advocacy campaigns and how much lobbying they were permitted to do. Twenty years ago more than half knew the rules, the survey found.


Holding nonprofits back, Watkins said, was a lack of money to hire full-time staff with policy expertise and fear that taking part in debates on policy matters or providing voters with nonpartisan voting guides would put their nonprofit status in jeopardy.

Independent Sector plans to conduct studies to dig deeper into the reasons for the decline, but experts said many nonprofits don’t have the money to engage in policy debates. And some organizations may fear taking public stances on issues, given the heated political environment.

Sticking their necks out could make them targets of political opponents, they said.


A number of survey responses seemed to indicate people were concerned about running afoul IRS rules that prohibit investing a substantial amount of time and resources into lobbying. Substantial is apparently a much higher bar than people realize, though obviously the term leaves a considerable amount of gray area open to interpretation.

While Gorovitz allowed that the IRS regulations on nonprofit advocacy can be confusing, the guidance provided by the agency, he said, is often misunderstood.

“It does not mean ‘don’t lobby,’” he said. “It means lobby. It’s an express invitation in the tax code that says you can lobby.”

Give A Kid A Culture Voucher And They Buy Books As Well As Experiences

I have been keeping an eye on the cultural voucher programs various European countries employ to encourage young people to get out and engage in different experiences. The program differ in detail. There are some that provide rail passes to allow people to explore different geographic areas, including outside their own countries. Others are focused on arts and cultural experiences within the country.  I have written about Germany’s KulturPass before, but I recently caught a story about the most recent round of the program.

According to a recent article, as of August 9, in terms of units purchased since this year’s KulturPass program began on June 14, books and other printed materials have lead the way by far.  Then cinema tickets, concerts and theater, museums and parks, musical instruments, audio media and then sheet music.  In all, about 200,000 units have been purchased in the last two months. About 136,000 German 18 year olds have activated the passes worth €200 (US$219)

In terms of amount spent, concerts and theater lead the way given the greater cost. “….at something around or above €12 million (US$13.2); books follow with so €11 million (US$12.7 million); and cinema tickets follow in third place with €461,000 or more (US$505,900).”

Lest you think Germans are particularly bookish with 49% of voucher funds being used to purchase tomes, Italy has seen similar results with their pass.

“…Italy’s corresponding “18App”—the original “culture voucher” for young citizens in Europe. There, in 2021 specifically, the publishers association reported that 18-year-old Italians were spending 80 percent of their €500 vouchers on books during January and February of that year.”

Obviously, there may be differences in the design and implementation of the pass in Italy that encouraged larger purchases of books. The fact these numbers come from a period 10 months into the Covid pandemic when there were reduced opportunities for other activities likely influences the numbers as well. However, these programs are good examples of a tool to provide bottom up funding to provide a little stimulation to arts and culture organizations.