Tuesday, May 15, 2007

At last: An MP asks about booking fees

It's taken god knows how many months of people trying to make the point whenever the government experienced a fit of the vapours about people selling tickets on eBay, but finally, an MP has raised the issue of booking fees with the DTI:

Labour's Ben Chapman said costs added to the ticket's face value should be spelt out, as should alternatives to buying through an agency.

In the House of Commons, Mr Chapman said huge demand had put venues and agencies in a "powerful position".

Trade and Industry Minister Margaret Hodge said the industry was examined by the Office of Fair Trading in 2005.

She added that current regulations would be strengthened by the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in 2008 which would require consumers to be able to make an "informed purchasing decision".

Of course, this is way to weak - it's not that people don't know they're being hung upside and shaken until their pockets are emptied; what Hodge is offering is the opportunity to be mugged in an informed way: "I'm now going through your pockets with the intention of removing any cash; I'll also be taking your credit cards, and later in this session I shall threaten to poke a knife into your kidneys unless you reveal the PIN number..."

What the law should say - and be explicit about - is that the booking fee, if charged at all, must only cover any extra legitimate administrative costs incurred - so instead of a percentage of ticket face value, it would have to be a fixed price, and one levied per transaction rather than per ticket; the price of booking online would have to reflect the reduced costs of processing, and so on. It's not information that we need, it's fairness.


Anonymous said...

"Labour's Ben Chapman said costs added to the ticket's face value should be spelt out, as should alternatives to buying through an agency"

Could someone tell me what these 'alternatives to buying through an agency' are? The only alternatives I can think of are:
a) Pay an eBay tout
b) Pay a real tout
c) A day trip to the venue to buy tickets in advance (I hear there's lots for the family to do in Wembley town centre afterwards)
d) Not go

Have I missed any?

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

(e) Find a roadie, close your eyes, hold your nose, get on your knees

Anonymous said...

A quick search for tickets yeasterday led me to the Ticket Bastard website which charged a £5.50 booking fee for £50 tickets. Anyone know a roadie lugging gear at this year's Connect festival?

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