The big question when buying tickets to events is “how do I get the cheapest tickets?”. The answer is not as straight forward as you might hope – every ticketing website or booking office has their own mark up and their own way of representing that. In some cases, the ticket operator may not even be trying to rip you off (although in a lot of cases it seems like that!) – some charges can be considered legitimate.
Here at the Lab, we did a quick experiment to see where the best place is to get tickets for the upcoming Slow Club gig at Camden venue Koko on the 17th December 2012. Slow Club are a folk-pop-rock duo from Sheffield and their annual Christmas show is as integral a part of the festive season as mulled wine. Not convinced? Have a read.
We started off as most good experiments do: on Google. A quick search for “Slow Club tickets” revealed 2 sponsored links (which we’ll come back to) and several ticket websites. First up on our list was See Tickets. They were offering tickets at £15.50. On closer examination, these tickets were at a face value of £14.00, with a booking fee of £1.50 applied to each ticket. See tickets explain this fee as:
The face value of a ticket is set by the event organisers. They don’t pay us anything to sell their tickets, so in order to make money See has to charge a little bit on top. The ticket cost is the face value plus the booking fee. We have to do this on a per-ticket basis to cover the cost of providing a 7 days a week, 24 hours a day booking service, labour costs, credit card commissions and all the other costs associated with running our business. The actual amount we charge is negotiated with the venue or promoter for each event.
OK, fair enough. Although this non-itemising seems a bit devious in some way – so you only see one extra charge (the transactional charge) at the checkout, which in See’s case is £2.31.
Next up: Ticketmaster. These guys have the same ticket price (same face value plus same booking fee) as See and in a similarly grouped manner. Ticketmaster only give you one option for delivery; a meaty £5.50 secure delivery charge, although apparently if you’re an overseas customer, you can pay £2.50 to pick up your tickets on the door by providing ID. Peculiarly, as the other ticket providers haven’t been mentioning secure delivery, either it’s simply included in the transaction charge or this method is not 100% required (other than in Ticketmaster’s greedy little mind).
The last useful link on page one of the search results was for slowclubband.com. By going through the band’s own site, you end up at artistticket.com, which although it is also powered by See, charges 10p less on it’s per-ticket booking fees, and only £2.00 on the transactional charge.
The final place we looked was on the venue’s website koko.uk.com. Koko’s booking system is powered by Ticketweb where they save all of the booking and transactional fees until the end, whereby they reveal that it’s a service charge of £3.50 and a delivery charge of £2.00 for postage or £1.85 for e-tickets. If you’ve never sent an email, we can tell you that it’s free, so we’ve no idea what that charge is for.
All in all, here’s the breakdown (the two bottom ones are the sponsored links from Google – evil touting websites!):
|Website||Ticket price||Booking fee (per ticket)||transaction/delivery fee (per order)||total fees|
|Viagogo Converted from €||£41.57||£6.20||£13.00||£19.20 + £1.24 VAT|
So the cheapest here is Artist Tickets, presumably as an independent retailer, but affiliated with See they can try and cut costs to attract more sales. Next closest is Ticketweb, but whose ridiculous e-ticket fee of £1.85 still places it firmly in the category of ‘rip-off’. The moral here is to shop around – a better deal can always be found. We’ll continue to research and publish our finding on other gigs and sites selling tickets.
Here at Ticketlab, we try and ensure you pay as close to the face value of the ticket as we can – which is why our booking fee and Paypal’s fees are itemised. On a £14 ticket for example, Paypal’s fees would amount to 67p, and ours would be 50p (per ticket), amounting to £1.17 which is around 3x cheaper than See and Artist Tickets. Just to, y’know, bear in mind in case you want to put on an event.