Want to buy tickets for shows? Forget it!

I decided it is time to get New Year into gear and book some tickets for up and coming events.  Three different scales of shows; three different experiences. I have written about poor ticket selling practices in Scottish theatre before.  This time I am naming names.

Arches charges £1 booking fee plus £1 transaction fee plus 50p card fee – per ticket to book online.  NTS sells its tickets for Black Watch at SECC via Ticket Soup.com and not listed so assume sold out- but it took me three clicks to get there and I can’t be bothered trying to find out.  Seen the show before anyway, but friend wanted to go. Need to go back and say I have failed to find tickets.

For David Leddy’s site specific show Long Live the Little Knife in Govan, you are encouraged to book early as space limited and gives a phone number- but no box office opening times.  After some detective work discover box office is Tramway but sadly no opening times given on their website.

I think I will just buy some books online instead.

15 thoughts on “Want to buy tickets for shows? Forget it!

  1. Good morning, Christine.

    Thanks for alerting us to this omission. I’m sorry you had a frustrating time trying to buy tickets for LONG LIVE THE LITTLE KNIFE. We are selling tickets through Tramway box office. Their opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 10am to 8pm, and 10am to 6pm on Sundays.

    I’ve alerted Tramway Box Office and Ops team to your post and we’ve updated our own website to include opening hours for the box office.

    Please do get in touch if you have any further problems.

    I hope you’re well and had lots of fun over the holidays.
    Wishing you all the best for the new year.

    Best regards,
    Mhari Hetherington
    Fire Exit Limited

    • Thanks for your speedy response, Mhari. I will call them at 10 and get my tickets booked. It is so difficult if you don’t have control of your box office, I know. The last thing you think of doing when getting a show on is to check the box office has its times on the website where you can find them! This came on top of trying to book other tickets where I just kept hitting barriers. Hope all going well. Looking forward to the show. Best Christine

  2. Actually, Christine, it took me 4 clicks from typing SECC to buying Black Watch tickets. I don’t think that is unreasonable. Best, Neil

    • Thanks- I went from NTS site this morning and swear the link was not working properly- although it is now. It may be my advancing years but I do think sometimes the ticket buying info is not totally clear– which the customer unfavourably will compare with other forms of online buying. If you don’t run your own box office, it’s hard to control. Had a helpful response from marketing staff on how to get tickets and avoid booking fees! Thanks again. Christine

  3. Hi Christine

    We’re really sorry to hear that your efforts to get a hold of tickets for Black Watch was tricky.

    Black Watch is listed on Ticket Soup’s website at http://www.ticketsoup.com/tickets/black-watch-2013-14459/default.aspx and we have added a link straight to this page from our website.

    If you would still like to take your friends to see the show, you can book tickets via the link above or avoid booking fees by purchasing in person at the the Ticket Soup booth in St Enoch’s Centre or at the SECC.

  4. Hi Christine – thanks for your feedback -Can I check where you saw the show advertised? Was it on the Tramway website?

    • Hi Kathryn- I got an eflyer from Fire Exit with only a phone number. I googled the phone number and found the show on the Tramway site. Could not book on line so tried to find out when I could ring and could not find when box office was open. That was my complaint. Mhari got in touch re times and I rang at 10 this monring and had great service from your staff! Best Christine

      • Thanks Christine – just to let you know I have updated the visiting and contact page of Tramway website with Box Office opening hours -thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. We really hope you enjoy the show! I work at Tramway by the way -should have said that in the first email. Take care.

  5. Hi Christine,

    I’m afraid your point is partially incorrect. The £1 booking fee you mention applies to our commercial events (gigs and clubs) not theatre events. This fee on our commercial events helps fund our artistic programme.

    For clarity though it should be stated that for theatre events we are required to charge 50p (overall, not per ticket) on all card transactions and a £1 (overall, not per ticket) transaction fee for online bookings. These fees cover our merchant charges and the cost of our online service respectively.

    Our online sales have increased from 17% in 2011 to 34% in 2012 so we are confident our customers are satisfied with the service. It should also be noted that 58% of online bookers choose to donate an extra £1 towards our artistic programme when booking.

    Kind regards,

    Chris Lang
    Box Office Manager

    • I was booking for Jane Birkin– which I understand is a gig and not part of the arts programme. My objection to fees applies across the board– I think ripping off concert and club goers is no less annoying than ripping off theatre goers and all charges should be included on the face of the ticket. However I realise there is a debate to be had here and you will not agree. I also fully accept that ‘plus booking fee’ was clearly stated on the website before i started booking. What I found annoying was that it was not just one booking fee but also a transaction fee and then a credit card fee.

      What is not for debate, however, is that The Arches is levying a card fee and a booking fee per ticket. If I had clicked through on line my 2 tickets at £28.50 would have cost me £61. This is 50p per ticket for card fee and £1 for booking fee per ticket and £1 transaction fee for the booking. As it is, I called in and saved myself £1.

      I am a supporter of The Arches and pleased your bookings are going well but in my view there is a real problem with ‘the customer journey’ across theatre in Scotland.

      • Hi Christine,

        Our box office simply couldn’t operate if we didn’t charge booking fees at all on commercial events (remember the cost of the ticket is not going to us but external promoters), but as I’m sure you are aware the Arches is a registered charity and our funding model means any profits over and above running costs go directly back into funding our arts programme. To make the exactly same booking for Jane Birkin via Ticketmaster would cost £66.07, an additional £4 in booking fees – going directly to a commercial organisation.

        We completely understand that the preference for most would be to be told the total amount of any booking at a glance, however we are required by Ofcom to clearly state the face value of a ticket and detail what charges go where. This is to protect the consumer from industry giants such as Ticketmaster, Live Nation, Ryanair and the like, rather than from publicly subsidised arts venues, but we have to adhere to the same regulations. As you pointed out we are clear that the gig ticket price will be ‘+ booking fee’, however if you think we need to be even more transparent in explaining this then please let us know what else we can do – we are keen to make the booking process as clear as possible.

        Therefore, whilst I think there is certainly a discussion to be had about booking fees and consumer rights generally, I don’t think it’s correct to frame the debate around “the customer journey across Scottish theatre.”

        Kind regards,


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