Clampdown on misleading theatre ticket costsSellers to be upfront about booking fees

27 February 2013


Theatre ticket sellers must make compulsory charges clear in their advertised prices, the advertising watchdog has ruled today. 

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that ticket sellers must also be up-front about booking fees. 

The watchdog has ruled against four theatre websites for displaying misleading ticket prices. 

These are the Ambassador Theatre Group, Charing Cross Theatre, the AKA Group’s site for A Chorus of Disapproval, and The Old Vic.

Complaints were made about misleading charges of up to £3 extra in transaction costs including booking fees and charges for phone or internet purchases.

If you want to avoid hidden ticket charges, take a look at our guide.

Up-front booking fees

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: ‘Today's rulings about advertised prices for theatre tickets make clear that sellers must include all compulsory fees and charges in quoted ticket prices and be more up-front about booking fees.

‘These pricing practices are simply not fair. They draw us in on a false promise. 

'They make us less likely to shop around for the best deal. Our rulings send a clear signal to advertisers: sort out your pricing so we all get a fair deal.’

The Old Vic said it had added text to the bottom of the page which highlighted the amount of the booking fees, but pointed out that the fee was per transaction rather than per ticket.

But Charing Cross Theatre said it was not reasonable to require them to include the commission fee in ticket prices given online because the website was also a reference point for those booking in person at the box office, where no commission was payable.

Avoid ticket seller charges

The typical way many ticket websites earn money is through additional service fees.

Ticket seller charges can go under many different names, including commission, booking fees, service charges, administration charges, credit card fees and delivery.

The best chance you have to avoid extra service charges is to turn up at the venue’s box office and pay for tickets in person. But check with the venue before doing so as not all allow this.

If you choose to go to the venue’s box office, pay cash as some venues will charge you a fee for paying by credit card.

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