Working For The Cash Machine

Not that it’s the most original thought in the world (and I can hardly be the first person to have spotted it), but I never cease to be amazed by the shockingly high fees some ticketing agencies will slap on top of already inflated gig ticket prices.

This morning I picked up a couple of tickets to see Hard-Fi at the Brixton Academy in May. I went through ticketweb, even though they’re part of evil ticketmaster, because their fees are always the cheapest (and you can pick the venue pick-up option, which is not only cheaper because you don’t have to pay an over inflated delivery charge, but also generally better because there’s no relying on the Royal Mail to worry about, and–at Brixton at least–you get to avoid the queues by going in through a separate entrance). Even so, they were charging 12% of the face value in fees (or £2.22 per ticket). Now I know that this is how they make their money, and that they don’t get a cut of the ticket price itself, but still, what the hell is the £8.88 I’ve just paid them for 4 tickets actually paying for? I booked through the website, so at no point was an actual human involved in the transaction, and the tickets will be printed out on the day of the show and stuffed into an envelope at the box office. Two quid for printing the name of the gig on a small bit of paper with a hologram on it? I don’t think so.

I know for a fact that the same agency can happily print the tickets for First Friday at the Islington Academy for only 85p booking fee per ticket, so I’d be interested to know why it costs an extra £1.37 per ticket to wing the details over to Brixton electronically instead. Is this some special pricing structure that BT apply to electronic ticketing agencies? Do they charge more per kilometre that the data has to travel?

Then again, it could be worse. “As a favour to the band’s fans” (I discovered on browsing their message board yesterday) they were running a presale yesterday through The Way Ahead/Seetickets/Gigsandtours.com (or whatever they choose to call themselves these days) agency (they of the Glasto ticket shenanigans fame). I could have picked up the same four tickets yesterday in the presale and paid a total of £15.70 in fees (this to buy four tickets with a face value of £18.50 each). That’s a total charge of 21%. So I decided to pass on that gracious advance offer from the band and take my chances with the general sale. I also noticed that Stargreen had tickets for sale as well, but their fees were up to a whopping seventeen quid. I wonder what they pay the envelope stuffers in these places…?

AND while I’m on the subject, NME / Hard-Fi marketing peeps, please don’t give me this nonsense about them selling out Brixton in just 15 minutes, and suddenly adding extra dates due to unprecedented demand: it took them at least 24 hours of “presale” plus a good 60 – 90 minutes this morning to sell all the tickets for their first two dates [EDIT: And oh look: one of those Brixton dates they “sold out” in 15 minutes now has tickets available again online, over 24 hours after the tickets went onsale, yet still the NME inists that the band sold out their initial dates in 15 minutes (where did this figure come from, exactly?) and that they were “forced” to add more dates…], and, hey, well, that was a stroke of luck that you just happened to have some gaps in the tour schedule and were able to add in those extra dates to the tour like that. Just as well the Manchester Apollo and the Brixton Academy just happened to be available for another night, isn’t it?