Comic Sarah Millican boycotts Playhouse on tour over ‘inflated’ booking fees

COMEDIAN Sarah Millican has announced plans to boycott venues owned by the Ambassador Theatre Group on her upcoming tour, because of the amount they charge customers for booking fees.

The stand-up, whose debut DVD is the bestselling of any female comedian in Britain and who was also voted Queen of Comedy at last year’s British Comedy Awards, said she objected to the high booking fees charged by the company’s venues, which includes the Edinburgh Playhouse.

ATG adds up to £4.90 to the face value of each purchased ticket, and also charges a transaction fee on top of this which can be as high as £4.

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Millican, who won the Best Newcomer prize at the 2008 Fringe, said: “Some of you will notice that I’m not playing some of the venues I played on my last tour. Those venues are owned and run by The Ambassador Theatre Group. I don’t agree with the extra charges ATG put on top of the face value ticket price to you the customer and a number of other restrictions they have in place so that’s why I’ve avoided their venues this time round.

“We’ve booked alternative theatres, though, across the country so you will still be able to find somewhere close to you to come and see the show.”

She added: “I will never advocate touts or inflated prices on eBay or dodgy websites.”

Millican is playing the Festival Theatre on April 11 and 12 next year. The Festival Theatre charges a booking fee of 75p per ticket, though this is capped at £3.

A spokesperson for the Playhouse told the News: “All, or the vast majority, of the sales income from tickets in our venues goes to the producer of the show, hence the need to charge for ticketing operations separately. ATG and its ticketing arm also provide an extremely high level of customer service and the ticketing fees cover the costs of providing this service. However booking fees only apply to customers who buy on the phone or online. The range of fees can vary depending on show genre and ticket price.

“Substantially more than 50 per cent of our customers do not pay booking fees. These are customers who buy their tickets in person at our venue box offices.

“ATG is also on the board of STAR, the official ticketing industry organisation, which agrees procedures – a code of conduct – to ensure consumers get clarity over what they are paying and to protect consumers against opportunistic and unofficial ticket selling and touts.”