Theatre-goers slapped with plethora of extra fees


You might have been relishing the prospect of paying no credit card fees for booking a flight or concert.

But you may be disappointed — though not surprised — to discover that fees are still creeping in under other names.

Now theatres, concert halls and museums are charging customers for collecting tickets, buying them over the phone, or even paying in cash.

A Money Mail investigation has found that families are being hit with fees of up to £8 a time following the crackdown on credit card charges.

Farcical: Theatres, concert halls and museums are charging customers for collecting tickets, buying them over the phone, or even paying in cash

Farcical: Theatres, concert halls and museums are charging customers for collecting tickets, buying them over the phone, or even paying in cash

Farcical: Theatres, concert halls and museums are charging customers for collecting tickets, buying them over the phone, or even paying in cash

The probe reveals how big venues have tried to replace the revenue they once received from credit card charges with alternative streams of income.

A spokesman at one theatre, who wished to remain anonymous, told Money Mail: ‘The ban on credit card fees is stupid. It just means we have to find other ways of charging everyone.’

Since January, firms have been barred from charging customers a fee for paying by credit or debit card, in a shake-up which aimed to save families £473 million a year.

Until then, companies added as much as 3 per cent to the purchase price when you reached the payment page online. Pubs and corner shops also imposed a fee if you used a card to pay.

All these practices are now banned. It has prompted theatres and music venues to claw back this cash by levying extra charges on bookings — no matter how customers pay.

Research by Barclays investment bank, published when the ban was introduced in January, suggested that the new charges would pile as much as £15 million on to companies’ revenues because customers who pay with cash would be charged extra. 

Martyn James, head of media and marketing at consumer website Resolver, said: ‘It’s absolutely unacceptable for a business to charge people simply for picking up tickets in person or paying cash.

‘This cynical exercise does nothing but exploit people and needs to be clamped down on hard.’

Customers are being left bewildered by extra levies such as transaction and fulfilment charges, telephone booking fees, administration costs, and box office collection charges — which are all slapped on to the face value of a ticket. 

Customers are being left bewildered by extra levies such as transaction and fulfilment charges, telephone booking fees, administration costs, and box office collection charges

Customers are being left bewildered by extra levies such as transaction and fulfilment charges, telephone booking fees, administration costs, and box office collection charges

Customers are being left bewildered by extra levies such as transaction and fulfilment charges, telephone booking fees, administration costs, and box office collection charges

The O2 Guildhall Southampton levies fees including a box office collection charge of £3.25 and a £3.45 standard postage charge — along with service and facility charges.

In total, these would pile an additional £8.85 on to the cost of a £27 ticket to see comedian Jason Manford in October.

The venue’s website says that as a result of the credit card charge ban it will charge customers booking fees even if they pay with cash.

The BBC’s Gardeners’ World Live, held at the NEC in Birmingham, levies a £2.45 per booking ‘fulfilment’ fee to customers. Its website says this ‘contributes to the cost of delivering the tickets’. But even those who pick up their tickets in person are hit by the charges.

Liverpool Museums also hits customers with a £2.95 charge for booking tickets over the phone, and a £1 fee to book online.

The Baths Hall Theatre in Scunthorpe imposes a 12 per cent booking fee.

In January Money Mail revealed how firms were raking in £1 billion a year in stealth charges. These included booking fees, cash machine charges and overseas card charges.

A Liverpool Museums spokesman said: ‘The fee for booking online and over the phone covers staff fulfilment costs and payment processing charges.’

An O2 Guildhall Southampton spokesman could not be reached for comment.

A Baths Hall spokesman did not wish to comment.

r.lythe@dailymail.co.uk

 



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