Thursday, October 11, 2007

Edwyn Collins rip off by the BBC

The BBC is very proud of itself that 'tickets for the Electric Proms are only £10'. Once you add on the booking fee, that's £12. Fair enough, the booking agency has got to pay its running costs which include bank charges and guaranteeing users a level of security.

But adding a £4.80 "transaction fee" is not just taking the piss, it's increasing the cover charge by nearly 50%. If £10 is too cheap a price for a ticket, then don't boast about "only" charging £10.

If I bought a sandwich this lunchtime and the baker said, "That'll be £2. Plus 20p handling. Oh, and don't forget my transaction fee of £1. £3.20 please, sir," I'd take my custom elsewhere.

But I can't take my custom elsewhere for the BBC Electric Proms because it's only selling tickets through one agency, seetickets, who are milking this cash cow as much as they can.

There's a maximum of 2 tickets per purchase for the Edwyn gig at Dingwalls, so that means a minimum of a £2.40 "transaction fee" per ticket on top of the booking fee. Let's not forget that a booking fee traditionally covers all costs associated with transactions, so seetickets are just profiteering by applying this grossly over-inflated charge.

The only two mates I know who are going have already bought their tickets together; other friends already have tickets for the Arts Theatre gig and have balked not so much at the overall cost of the Dingwalls gig, but at the overall greed of the mark-up, and have declined to go.

So, if I were to buy just one ticket (and I want to go, but I don't like being ripped off), the "transaction fee" charged by seetickets would represent a 48% charge. This doesn't compare favourably to other tickets sold by the agency. As an example:
Spice Girls: £2.25 is 3% "transaction fee" on a £75 ticket;
Amy Winehouse: £4.80 is 21.3% "transaction fee" on a £22.50 ticket (but you can buy up to 4 tickets per purchase, thus reducing the mark up to 5.3% per ticket);
Frank Skinner: £2 is 10% "transaction fee" on a £20 ticket.

What's clear is that seetickets' "transaction fee" is a way of charging your booking fee twice. What's more depressing is that the "transaction fee" on the Edwyn Collins tickets has a bigger mark up than all the other tickets they're selling.

Perhaps, though, seetickets are innocent. They rip off their customers ruthlessly as a general rule. The reason the rip-off's so exploitative for the BBC Electric Proms might be that the BBC is smarting over the hefty fines imposed by Ofcom for its phone-in scandals and needs some more cash.


martijn said...

Hmm. In the Netherlands, with the people who have a near-monopoly on concert ticket saltes, you pay as transaction/handling fee which a) is a certain percentage of the price of the ticket and b) is to be paid for every single ticket. To me, the British system sounds slightly more fair.

martijn said...

(Though of course, still rather ridiculous. It's a bit like not including the price of petrol in the advertised priced of a flight ticket. In which you should just turn up at the check in desk and tell them you're brought your own kersosine.)

Fire Escape said...

On the contrary, if it were a percentage of the ticket price, as in Holland, then it would be fairer. But it's not. Why should an Edwyn Collins fan pay a 48% fee and a Spice Girls fan pay a 3% fee? The ticket agencies can charge what they like, without rhyme or reason, in the UK.

martijn said...

It's said to be an administration fee, to cover the work done by the people you by the ticket from. Usually the local post office. To them it doesn't make any difference whether you buy a ticket for a small band playing at your local venue, or ten tickets for the Stones playing some big stadium. But the worst thing is that you pay the administration fee for every single ticket, even if you save the people a lot of work and buy ten at once. (I know people that, for this reason, go back to the counter ten times.)

Fire Escape said...

That's brilliant! I now have (an ever-greater) respect for the Dutch.

ally. said...

buggers aren't they. i've never really understood how they get away with anything on top of the booking fee.
your help with the search for a collection of records to be given grade 1 listed status would be much appreciated over at dusty7s

Fire Escape said...

I've left my thoughts for you. I'll be sending my invoice over in the morning (one penny + VAT).

Anonymous said...
Clink on the BBC link and register quickly to grab tickets for £5

Fire Escape said...

Thanks, Anon. Fingers crossed...