Booking Fees - Overdue For Legislation
Anyone buying tickets for a show these days will usually have to pay a booking fee and / or service charge.
Laudably, some venues still don't charge any fee at all if you buy tickets at their box office and pay in cash.
Some others charge only a modest flat rate fee. These are the exceptions, however.
Booking tickets on-line - the sole option for some venues - costs varying amounts depending on the source and the difference in charging levels from different agencies is often significant for the same event. Why is that?
I accept it is reasonable for agents to charge something for providing such a service and when payments are made by credit card, they may incur additional costs which it is equitable to pass on. However, the amount charged in many cases is reaching a level where outrageous rip-off is the only reasonable description of current custom and practice.
When asked, agencies will claim that they have high capital costs to provide sufficient infrastructure to deal efficiently with high volumes of demand and that is reflected in their charges. In that case why does at least one agency charge you £3-50 for the privilege of you printing your tickets on your own printer at home? Why are service charges from one agency £1 per ticket and from another £2-50 or more for the same event without discernible differences in the efficiency of the service provided? Levying a standard 10% (as some do) on the cost of tickets, which for shows by major artists can approach £100 each to start with, is an utter scandal.
Last time I asked Liverpool Trading Standards what the legal position was for this, I was told there is no relevant specific legislation in place, although successive governments have each claimed to be looking closely at this with a view to taking action, without any ever actually doing anything.
Free marketeers would doubtless argue that such agencies charge what the market will permit, especially where demand exceeds supply. That is no excuse for tolerating the fleecing of punters especially as the amount of risk - supposedly the yardstick by which the level of fees should be set - is between minimal and zero in many cases.
If fairness is supposed to be the watchword of this government, it is time they defended consumer rights for a change and legislated at the very least to set a reasonable percentage ceiling on booking fees and other related costs.