Ambassador Theatre Group mourning Millican tour boycott over ticket fees
We all like to laugh, and one of the country’s most popular laugh-bringers is Sarah Millican. But Sarah has just rebranded herself as a consumer champion as well, making a stand against unscrupulous theatres and their vile ticket fees.
Sarah has announced a vast UK tour for 2013/14 but she WON’T be setting foot in any of the 39 venues owned by the Ambassador Theatre Group, and it’s all because of the added fees they slap on to the cost of the tickets for their shows.
On her site, Sarah says:
'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.'
ATG, which has a separate ticketing agency arm, adds up to £4.90 to the face value of each purchased ticket, plus a transaction fee that can be as high as £4. Plus, if the prices of the drinks in the bar at their Sunderland Empire venue are anything to go by, they’re stinging the punters that way as well.
As noted on the Chortle website, a £25 ticket for Alan Davies at the Oxford New Theatre will actually set you back £32.90 if you buy it from the website – with an extra £7.90 in fees and charges slapped on for your pleasure. Having said that, Ticketmaster aren’t much better, and Ms Millican is using them to sell the tickets for her non-ATG tour. A £25 ticket has a booking fee of £4.40 and a £2.25 charge for you to have the privilege of printing it out yourself in the comfort of your own home (weirdly, to have it posted to you is only £2.05). So that’s an added £6.65 bunged on to the face value of your ticket. Nice.
ATG have said: '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.'
Perhaps by denying them what would be a significant amount of income, Sarah Millican might have started to force the beginning of a change in attitudes. Mind you, it’s a pity that she couldn’t have found a way to sell her tickets without lining the pockets of Ticketmaster as well…