How to find the cheapest tickets around
Planning to go to a gig? Booking fees can vary wildly, so it pays to shop around. James Daley reports
Saturday 28 June 2008
Tens of thousands of music fans have descended on Glastonbury this weekend, for the UK's largest annual arts festival. Tickets for the full three days would have set you back £155. However, if that didn't seem expensive enough, there's then the £5 booking fee as well as a further £4 transaction fee, taking the total to an eye-watering £164.
When it comes to Glastonbury, the face value is so high that the additional charges only amount to around 6 per cent of the original price. However, for many events, it's now commonplace to pay fees of 20 per cent or more to the booking agent. And if you're brave enough to try and buy tickets from one of the growing number of secondary ticketing companies – such as Viagogo or Seatwave – who sell tickets to "sold-out" events, you could pay a mark-up of as much as 50 or even 100 per cent.
Mark McLaughlin is the chief executive of Ticket-text.com, a newly launched agency which pledges to send people their tickets to their mobile phones. He became so angry about the level of fees being charged to gig-goers that he started up his own agency to bring down prices. With Ticket-text, customers receive their tickets via a text message, which contains a unique bar code. This can then be scanned at the door when you arrive at your gig.
"The big two ticket agencies, Ticketmaster and SeeTickets, have made millions out of hard-working Brits by charging astronomical fees for event tickets. How can they justify charging booking fees sometimes in excess of 20 per cent? As if that's not enough, we then have the ludicrous situation where consumers are charged as much as £3 to print out an email ticket using their own printer at home – this is daylight robbery by any other name," says McLaughlin.
But Nick Blackburn, the managing director of SeeTickets, angrily rejects the suggestion that ticket agencies like his are a rip-off. He points out that his booking fees include VAT, and says the company is forced to charge almost £5 for postage for many tickets because they have to be sent by special delivery, as many venues are unable to reissue them if they're lost in the post.
"Our average [profit] margin is about 12 per cent," he says. "What other business runs on a margin as low as that and provides 24/7 service, a lot of technology and large call centres?"
Chris Edmonds, the MD of Ticketmaster, echoes Blackburn's comments, adding that its fees allow it to continue investing in the company, and help it to provide a good service.
The good news for consumers is that the launch of services such as Ticket-text are likely to help drive prices down. For example, if you're thinking of going to see the Sex Pistols in London on 2 September, SeeTickets will charge you £40 for the ticket, a £4.50 booking fee and a £4.80 transaction fee – a total of £9.30 in fees. Ticket-text, however, charges only a £2.50 booking fee and a £1.50 card processing fee, a saving of £5.30.
The cheapest way to buy tickets is to avoid the booking agent altogether. If you're able to travel to the venue, you should be able to buy tickets at the box office, without a booking fee – although you may be charged a card processing fee if you elect to pay by debit or credit card.
Before you take cash along to pay for your tickets though, consumer group Which? says it's worth remembering that paying by credit card gives you additional protection, if the price of your tickets is over £100. If your event is cancelled, or the promoter breaches their contract, the credit card company will have joint liability, and will have to ensure that you are fully refunded. If you're booking through an agent, the additional protection is particularly valuable, as some agents – such as SeeTickets and Stargreen and Gigantic – will not refund booking fees, even if an event is cancelled.
Beware the secondary market
If you find that tickets for your dream event are sold out, it's almost always still possible to get your hands on a pair for the right price. Many people head to eBay, but be careful to check the seller's reputation, and insist on seeing a photo of the tickets as proof that they really have them.
The alternative to auction sites is to use a secondary ticket agent, such as Viagogo or Seatwave. But beware that these sites will often charge a very large mark-up. For example, a set of tickets to the Wimbledon men's final next weekend, from Viagogo, will set you back over £2,000 – for a ticket that has a face value of just £91.
Sites such as Viagogo and Seatwave are at least legitimate. However, there are many other sites which boast they can get you tickets to sold out events, some of which are much less reputable. Blackburn says that many of these secondary agents – which he says are merely another type of ticket tout – do not even have the tickets at the time they sell them. Instead, they try and attain them elsewhere, once they've got a paid-up customer – or in some cases, they simply disappear with their clients' money.
If you are buying from a secondary agent, check who the company is owned by. If there isn't a UK phone number you can call, you should avoid them.
Independent Partners: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
peopleContenders for Time magazine's Person of the Year are a mixture of the good, the bad and the holy
tvSteven Moffat reveals the actor was dying to take on the role of the Time Lord and says he is excited to see what he will do with the character
sportBayern Munich 2 Manchester City 3: City come from two down to beat reigning European Champions
newsAs the world remembers Mandela the hero, the prison where he spent 27 years seems all the more brutal
arts + ents... and a chance to paint Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel
danceUnder Tamara Rojo's inspired direction, it seems possible that it could challenge the dominance of the Royal Ballet. We meet some established names and rising stars
travelDiscover Uruguay's jet-set beach resort, an Atlantic enclave with plenty of art and culture to explore on the side
- 1 Mountain goats' miraculous escape from avalanche captured in dramatic video footage
- 2 Gurdwaras-turned-food banks: Sikh temples are catering for rise in Britain’s hungry
- 3 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 4 Government delays EU immigration report because it is too positive
- 5 'I'm experiencing austerity as well', says Princess Michael of Kent
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£45000 - £70000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Technical Impl...
£65000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Rogue Trading ...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading, Cit...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Data Analyst -...
Day In a Page
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.
John Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool to be sold at auction. Guide price: £150,000-£250,000.
A six-bedroom detached period property with secluded gardens, ample parking and a double garage in Rye, £675,000.
A large split-level property with three double-bedrooms and roof terrace, close to Crouch End Broadway, £625,000.
A charming barn conversion in the picturesque Cotswold village of Ilmington with three bedrooms, a detached garage, workshop and beautifully manicured gardens £675,000.
A three-bedroom new build, ground-floor flat with two bathrooms, close to Bermondsey tube, £445,000.
A three-bedroom house in an enviable new development moments from Oxshott High Street, with secluded garden and decked area, £385,000