Agencies told to justify ticket fees for shows

The fees charged by ticket companies for acts such as Lee Mack. Picture: Getty
The fees charged by ticket companies for acts such as Lee Mack. Picture: Getty
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CONSUMER group Which? has given ticketing companies such as Ticketmaster and See Tickets a deadline of a month to stop charging customers what it says are hefty booking and administration fees before they are referred to the Competition & Markets Authority.

Compulsory fees added an average of 18 per cent to face-value ticket prices according to an investigation carried out by the consumer group, which launched a campaign called Play Fair on Ticket Fees against the practice earlier this year.

The organisation looked at the compulsory booking and delivery fees charged for music, theatre and comedy events by 17 ticket companies across fivedifferent events.

The watchdog singled out a range of companies for their compulsory fees, including ATG for charging 28 per cent on its tickets for comedian Lee Mack at the Edinburgh Playhouse, and Ticket Factory for its 21 per cent booking fee on the same show at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow. Both performances are due to take place later this year.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said: “Consumers can often feel ripped off with widely varying and often high ticket fees, so we’re putting companies on notice to step up and Play Fair on Ticket Fees.

“They need to justify their fees and treat their customers fairly, or we will take our evidence to the Competition & MarketsAuthority.”

Six companies – Ticketmaster, Ticketline, Eventim, Gigantic, BH Live and Stargreen – offered no free delivery option, while three, Ticketmaster, See Tickets and Eventim, charged consumers a delivery fee of up to £3 for going in person to the box office to pick up tickets.

Only two companies – AXS and Ticket Factory – offered customers an option of printing their tickets at home for free, while a further four allowed customers to print their own tickets, but charged them £2.50 for the privilege.

Which? said that several ticket companies insisted that they do not have control over all the factors that influence the level of fees but has called on the firms to justify the fees they charge and show all fees up front.

The investigation found that the level of fees varied between events for all companies.

See Tickets charged the widest range of fees, from just five per cent of a ticket’s face value for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London, to 31 per cent for Shakespeare in Love at the UK capital’s Noel Coward Theatre.

At the time of the Which? research, the highest individual fee came from Stargreen, which charged 37 per cent on top of the face value ticket price of £25 – comprising a £9.25 charge made up of a £7 booking fee plus £2.25 compulsory postage – to see Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre in July 2014. However, in response to the watchdog’s campaign, Stargreen has now added an option to collect theatre tickets from the box office for free.

The 28 per cent charged by ATG for the Edinburgh Playhouse show was made up of a £4 transaction fee, plus £3.90 per ticket fee on top of a £28.50 ticket. Ticket Factory charged theatregoers in Glasgow a £3.42 booking fee plus £2.50 fulfilment fee on top of a £28.50 ticket for the Lee Mack show in Scotland’s biggest city.