/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Rain won’t spoil Glastonbury, but booking fees might

Jumping in a muddy puddle

Resale of Glastonbury tickets starts today. But how much do they cost? The answer is almost definitely ‘more than the advertised price’ thanks to extra booking fees. How can festival ticket sellers justify it?

I’m a big fan of summer festivals, even when it pours with rain. But the cost of going to the likes of Glastonbury, Reading or Bestival can all add up. Transport, programmes, food – and if you aren’t used to the outdoors life, you’ll probably have to fork out for a tent and some wellies too.

What’s more, the ticket fees are getting more and more bizarre each year. If you want the privilege of buying a ticket from one of the official sellers or resellers, ‘admin charges’ and ‘booking fees’ will be added to your ticket.

Festival ticket costs – I’ve done the maths

My £170 ticket for this year’s Latitude Festival actually cost £186.25 through Seetickets. That’s after factoring in a ‘booking fee’ of £7, a separate £5.25 ‘transaction fee’ and the not-quite-compulsory-but-automatically-added ‘refund protection’ for £4.

Glastonbury tickets will set you back £195, but the booking fees will take the total to £200, and postage and packaging is £4.95 per ticket. If you want to buy Bestival tickets, you need to budget a whopping £10 on top of the actual ticket price. And most vendors will charge double the booking fee for two tickets, triple for three, etc.

Surcharges vs booking fees

We’ve been exposing unfair card surcharges recently, and rightly so – we can see the discrepancy between how much a company charges and how much they actually pay to the banks for a card transaction. With your help we’ve been putting pressure on Consumer Minister, Ed Davey MP, to get unfair surcharges banned.

But a booking fee is a bit different, because it’s harder to work out whether it’s reasonable. Do they really do a fiver’s worth of work for each ticket they flog?

If I paid someone to sit in a room taking cheques from eager festival-goers and stuffing tickets into envelopes it’d cost me less in wages than £5 a ticket. So why does it cost more through a streamlined, automated online service?

It’s all part of the service

I’m not expecting a free service, but the ticket sellers aren’t really providing a service to me – they’re providing one to the organisers. They’re making them money by distributing their tickets. Surely it makes more sense for the costs to be passed on via the organisers (and a higher upfront ticket price) than for them to slap a £5 charge on the privilege of giving them £170?

It surprises me more as festival organisers are increasingly keen to appear ethical, green, open and honest – almost as if they’re not run by companies trying to make a profit! So here’s my two-step plan to make the whole transaction even more ethical:

  • Ticket sellers (and resellers) should stop charging excessive ‘booking’, ‘admin’ and ‘transaction’ fees.
  • Festival organisers should factor in the cost of ticket sales when setting their prices.

What do you think? Are booking fees an acceptable extra, or should ticket booking all be part of the service, and therefore the ticket price? Luckily for you, Which Conversation is an all-inclusive package, so it won’t cost you anything to leave a comment below.


I need to add my comments as I calm down from a recent ticket purchase.

Two tickets for the British Grand Prix Squash tournament at Manchester seemed good value at £10 each.

After deciding to purchase, a note appears at the bottom of the screen about £5 UK Postage & Packing. I still decided to proceed despite having to pay 25% extra to have the tickets delivered.

Imagine my state when, 5 mins after completing the transaction, I received an email from isportgroup with an attachment, which was my ticket, that I had to print.

A phone call to Ian Johnson (Retail Sales Manager of iSportstore Ltd), (using saynotot0870.com to avoid the 0844 charges!), revealed they had not updated the web site and it should have been shown as a ‘Booking fee’.

When asked, where I could have purchased to avoid the booking fee, the only way was to purchase at the venue on the day and risk there being no seats left.

So it should really be called a ‘guaranteed seat charge’?

Whatever it is called it should be shown on the front page with the ticket price and explain what it is for.

My intended theatre ticket purchase through ATG Tickets would cost:

The show is £15 per ticket; Restoration fund levy £1 per ticket; Booking Fee £4.50 per ticket; Postage charge £4 (Yes a £4 charge for one envelope & 39p postage!)
So for two people £45 rather than £30 at the door.
Ridiculous; I wont be going!

Borstal Boy says:
20 February 2012

Royal Albert Hall website

2 tickets @ £67.50 –Face cost £135
BUT towards the end of the transaction extra Charge £6.70
Explained as “2% administration charge on the total transaction plus £2 per ticket”

Beware the RAH

Shaun Allen says:
17 June 2012

I feel like i’m getting so ripped off with these scams!! It’s really difficult to avoid the charges. I am trying to buy 3 tickets for Against time at the New Alexandra Theatre, so whats the big deal right?
They advertise tickets from £11 each, great so as a family we can all go to see a dance show (as my partner and son are really into dance) at a reasonable price. Yes the tickets are up for sale, however if you try to buy direct the website leads you straight to ATG Tickets!! And yes you guessed it there’s a theatre restoration charge and a booking fee. No way to opt out and no breakdown! The phone numbers for the theatre are the same as this agency too. So the advertised £11 tickets are now £15.23 each. Now don’t get me wrong there is not a problem with a £15 ticket to watch a show but its the principle of the miss selling. If some of the money is going into a restoration fund shouldn’t I choose to do that?? Infact I would love to support our heritage but I like to be involved and have the choice!
Rant over but I’m furiously in a rock and a hard place. I want my son to see the show but resent the rip off fees.

I just bought a couple of tickets for a concert at the Aylesbury Waterside theatre via ATG. How nice! Early bird discounted price of £20 per ticket. A pop up notified me that there would be £1.50 admin charge per ticket. OK, so I went on to the paying screen. Somehow my £40 ticket price has attracted an ATG transaction fee of £2.85 + another complex sounding fee of £5.80. Postage of tickets seems to be free and they didn’t charge extra for credit card. However my total payment has escalated to £48.65 and I’m not happy at what seems to be 20%+ admin charge on my ticket price! The first time I backed out to see if I could get the tickets cheaper but ATG seems to have ring-fenced most of the seats so that on other sites it appears that the theatre is virtually full, and so I had no choice.
At Gloucester Choral Society we use the Everyman Theatre ticketing service. We absorb the cost of their admin charges in the ticket price so that the advertised price is the price you pay. We were very clear that we didn’t want our customers to be disenchanted and our name to be besmirched by this shady practice! At these levels I think the charges are evil!

Yvonne chaplin says:
12 July 2014

Purchased a latitude weekend ticket at a good price £137.50 then add on £25 booking fee and £10.50 postage you end up at £173 the postage is ridiculous and as for the booking fee its daylight robbery.

chamblesbaby says:
29 April 2021

I can’t believe that 10 years on this is still an issue.
Booking for 2 x adults + a campervan to Muckyweekender 10th/11th September 2021 – Tickets £120 each. Booking fee £5.52 EACH. Campervan ticket £35. Booking fee £1.61 – total booking fee £12.65 – OUTRAGEOUS! How can they possibly justify this – I can’t find anywhere else to complain, so thanks for hearing my rant.