|The Old Vic|
Four theatre ticket providers contacted by watchdog over booking fees
Date: 27 February 2013
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against four theatre ticket providers for quoting "misleading" prices on their websites.
According to a statement on the ASA website: "We found that compulsory fees and charges were not being included up-front in ticket prices. This meant that fees charged on either a per ticket or per booking basis were only made clear later in the buying process."
The four venues and agencies ruled against are AKA Group, The Old Vic, Charing Cross Theatre and Ambassador Theatre Group.
Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, said: "These pricing practices are simply not fair. They draw us in on a false promise. They make us less likely to shop around for the best deal. Our rulings send a clear signal to advertisers: sort out your pricing so we all get a fair deal."
The Charing Cross Theatre - currently staging the British premiere of Jerry Herman's Dear World - has agreed as a result to mention booking fees on the first page of the booking process, though the venue's producer Steven Levy expressed doubts over the fairness of the ruling.
Speaking to Whatsonstage.com, Levy said: "I think the ASA is addressing a non issue because I would argue that virtually every theatregoer knows that in order to buy tickets online, most venues charge a booking fee. The bigger question is why a company such as TheTrainLine.com adds its fee on the very last page of the booking. Why is the ASA not going after people who are wilfully trying to withold this information until the very last minute?"
A statement from the Ambassador Theatre Group said: "The ASA advised us that informing customers at the beginning of the booking process that a fee or charge may apply and to then confirm the amount of that fee later in the booking process needed revision. We have embarked on a series of improvements to the information on our website to ensure that ticket prices and any fees charged for purchasing online are clearly available to customers at the beginning of the booking process as well."
A spokesperson from AKA Group told the BBC: "Moving forward we will ensure that the first references to pricing for a performance are immediately qualified with the amount of any associated transaction fee or charges."
The Old Vic, which was censured for neglecting to mention booking fees during the seat selection process for Kiss Me, Kate, said it had now added text to the bottom of the page which highlights the amount of the booking fees.
- by Theo Bosanquet
|I spent about three hours on going through the best availibility for the Michael Grandage productions at night time and was shocked to learn at the very end that they charge £2 per ticket. The Michael Grange company blamed it on the website, THEY had chosen to market their tickets. They mentioned the fees on their leaflet but nothing on the website after spening hours of my time. I do their work and am charged for it. It think we should try to go to the box office and spent hours there to check availability. How many would they then be able to sell? Money is still the best incentive to change people's behaviour. - ELisabeth||12 Mar 13|
|I understand fees, particulary in an agent situation.
The fees are there for covering extra costs, ie card payments. After all no one minds paying £1.50 for postage but grumbles when they pay to use their card.
Fees can also be there because the producer doesnt want to give up their part of the ticket price and therefore an agent charges fees instead of commision otherwise has no income.
The better thing would be to legistate a limit on profit from fees and can only be applied to the services used. I know ticketmaster comes under fire for many many fees per transaction but that is due to their size and quantity. 3% cap on cards (everyone ditch AMEX!), £1 for second class post, and 30p per ticket operational costs. - Ryan||12 Mar 13|
|I agree with Joe, booking fees and other -hidden? fees are getting out of hand. Now theatres are adding on donations, which the purchaser must delete if they don't wish to pay. Be fair ticket prices are high enough you will end up killing the goose..... - Stuart Dean||28 Feb 13|
|Well it is about time Watchdog said that no fees should be applied. I have said many and many times over that if you go to theatre you pay no fees --well what is the difference whether you phone or internet for your tickets---you are doing all the work as you are paying for the call and then you give dates and details just as if you were at box office and then they keep tickets for you to pick---so what are these fees for??? Some providers charge a percentage of ticket value so the more expensive the tickets the higher the fee--WHY?? are they tickets printed on more upmarket paper than the cheaper ones??? It is just all a rip. I go 6 to 7 times+ a month to theatre and I can not afford a) the extortionate ticket prices and b)these high fees so have to wait for specials!!!. Nice that the West End has had a bumper year in ticket sales considering we are in treble dip recession but one day they will have egg on theirs face and not surprising that many plays close early or are half empty. I was horrified on Monday when I was going to theatre and popped in to get 4 tickets for "Book of Mormons" but the prices were £95, £67.50, £47.50 and £37.50 and these latter ones are tucked up at the top in the corners!!!! My God I went to Zagreb-Croatia and for 2 of us with flights and a 4 night 3* star hotel paid £293 for the 2 of us, so sorry needless to say I am not desperate to see Book of Mormons!!!! - Joe Spiteri||27 Feb 13|
Subscribe to our free newsletter