Ticked off by rip-off booking fees

9 March 2017

Going to the theatre or a music gig is an expensive business. There’s the cost of the ticket, the travel to the venue and the price of drinks once you’re inside.

But by far the most frustrating thing about booking an event is the high fees charged by ticketing websites. According to UK Music’s Measuring Music 2016 report, the total audience for live music alone is 27.7 million per year. That’s a lot of people… and a lot of booking fees.

Ticketmaster and See Tickets are two of the biggest ticket websites so they were the first places I looked when I spotted a gig in London I wanted to see.

For the £15 gig ticket Ticketmaster added a £2 booking fee per ticket plus £2.75 for the pleasure of printing it out myself. So a person buying one ticket would have to spend a fiver in fees - that’s a mark-up of a third. See Tickets wasn’t much cheaper.


Even worse are the ticket resale websites such as Get Me In, Stub Hub and Viagogo which can charge much more. As an example, I checked the price of a ticket to see American rock band The Killers in London’s Hyde Park this summer on Get Me In.

The cheapest ticket comes with a whopping £28.58 processing fee plus a delivery charge of £10.57. That’s before you get to the fact that a ticket with a £59.90 face price is being resold for almost £100 more.

No wonder the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is taking action against secondary ticket market.

There are a few ways to avoid paying fees. Most venues don’t charge any fees if you book in person at their box office. This is easy if you live close to the venue but isn’t really an option for people who live further afield.

My method to avoid these rip-off fees was to use the smartphone booking app Dice. This charges no booking fees for many of the gigs it sells – and thankfully mine was on there. The app doesn’t sell tickets to all events as some major artists only use the bigger ticket sites, but it’s worth a look before shelling out elsewhere.

Other rip-offs include being charged higher fees for credit card bookings compared to using your debit card. Different ticketing websites also have different names for the fees they charge. Some describe them as booking fees while others call them processing or transaction fees. So you’re never sure what exactly you’re paying for in some instances.

Sites sometimes don’t make it clear how much all the fees add up to until well into the booking process. In some cases you have to hand over all your details before you get a final price. Let’s hope that the government takes further action on ticket rip-offs. That would be music to the ears of all gig goers.