Sarah Millican in ticket fees boycott

Comic won't play expensive theatre chain

Sarah Millican is to boycott Britain's largest theatre chain because of the crippling extra fees they charge customers.

The comic has just announced her mammoth 2013/14 tour Home Bird - but it will not be visiting any of the 39 venues owned by the Ambassador Theatre Group.

On her website, she wrote: 'Some of you will notice that I’m not playing some of the venues I played on my last tour, those venues are owned and run by The Ambassador Theatre Group.

'I don’t agree with the extra charges ATG put on top of the face value ticket price to you the customer and a number of other restrictions they have in place so that’s why I’ve avoided their venues this time round.

'We’ve booked alternative theatres though across the country so you will still be able to find somewhere close to you to come and see the show.'

ATG, which has a separate ticketing agency arm, adds up to £4.90 to the face value of each purchased ticket, plus a transaction fee that can be as high as £4.

For example, a ticket for Milton Jones at Richmond Theatre in January is priced £21. Buying  a single ticket from the ATG website invokes a booking fee, restoration levy and transaction fee totalling £6.75 - almost a third on top of the basic ticket cost. A £25 ticket for Alan Davies at the Oxford New Theatre similarly costs £32.90 from the website - a £7.90 markup.

Ticketmaster - which Millican is using - isn't that much better. A £20 ticket for her show at the Manchester Apollo comes with a £2.75 booking fee per ticket and a £3.25 cost to have them posted to you - or even printed at home - making a total of £6 on top of the basic cost for a single seat.

ATG's theatres include the Edinburgh Playhouse, Liverpool Empire, Manchester Opera House, the Sunderland Empire, Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre and 11 West End venues.

The company - which adheres to the ticketing industry's code of conduct - said: 'All, or the vast majority, of the sales income from tickets in our venues goes to the producer of the show, hence the need to charge for ticketing operations separately.

'ATG and its ticketing arm also provide an extremely high level of customer service and the ticketing fees cover the costs of providing this service. However booking fees only apply to customers who buy on the phone or online.'

Click here for the dates Millican is playing.

Published: 16 Sep 2012

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