See Tickets

Anyone who buys tickets for gigs, plays or sporting events will have horror stories about how a reasonably priced ticket suddenly became a lot less reasonably priced once booking fees, transaction fees and postage fees had been added on. I’ve often wondered why the face value of tickets doesn’t just include a fixed amount that goes to the ticket agency as their cut rather than them being left to make up figures themselves.

Today I found out why the booking agencies like things how they are.

A month ago I bought a ticket for a Kathryn Williams gig at the Union Chapel. I bought it from See Tickets. It cost me £24.70. That figure was apparently made up of the following:

  • £19.50 – Ticket price
  • £1.95 – Booking fee
  • £2.25 – Transaction fee
  • £1.00 – Insurance (I think I forgot to uncheck a check box there)

The show was supposed to take place next Tuesday. But today I got an email from See telling me that the show had been postponed until 8th October. That’s a slight problem as I already have a ticket to see Radiohead that night. So, reluctantly I am going to have to return the Kathryn Williams ticket for a refund.

The email contained details of how to claim my refund. I had to post the ticket back to them (“by secure mail”) and they would refund the face value of the ticket.

Yes, just the face value. That’s £19.50. The rest of it – their fees – they want to hold on to. And they want me to post it using recorded delivery. That’s going to cost about £1.50.

I emailed their customer service to confirm this. It seemed really unlikely that I would lose about 25% of the money I’d paid just because I couldn’t get to the rearranged date. But their customer support confirmed that as they had done their part (by sending me the ticket) they had earned their money and weren’t going to give it back to me.

I discussed this a bit on Twitter and someone pointed out that I could probably get the money back from the Visa card that I used to buy the tickets (as I understand it, Visa can then claw the money back from the vendor). I’ve sent a message to First Direct to see how that might work. I also asked See Tickets to confirm exactly how much they planned to refund me and mentioned that I planned to see if I could get the rest back from Visa.

I got an email back from the confirming that they plan to refund me £19.50 and that they wouldn’t refund the postage. The email then finished with this:

If you proceed to claim the money back from your card provider you’ll be banned from using See or any of our affiliates in the future.

Up to that point I was happy to debate the finer points of the transaction and try to persuade them that their T&Cs were unfair. But I can’t really see the point now. They obviously aren’t reasonable people. I tell them that I’m planning to use legal methods to recover as much of the money as possible and they respond with threats.

It’s not much of a threat to be honest. After what has happened today, I’m not planning to use the company again. I’m sure my gig-going won’t be hampered too much if I stop buying tickets from See.

Perhaps you’d consider doing the same.

Update: Here’s are the details of the insurance that I inadvertently bought. Notice that there’s a list headed “we will not provide a refund where” which includes the item “the booked event is cancelled, abandoned, postponed, curtailed or relocated”.

Update: One nice thing to come out of this. Kathryn Williams heard about it on Twitter and was as appalled as any reasonable person would be. She has offered to send me a copy of her new CD to make amends (even though none of this is even slightly her fault). What a lovely person. You should all buy The Pond when it comes out next week.

[There are two follow-ups to this post. You might find those interesting too]


  1. I always use Stargreen Tickets. Have done for years. Never a problem.

    Out of interest, what did your £1 insurance buy you? Does it cover refunding all that you spent?

    I’ve never been a fan of See Tickets and had one bad experience with them way back when and decided never to use them again.

    Maybe the ticket industry needs a new competitor that’s focused on the customer?

  2. I would think the distance selling regulations let you have a complete refund of all fees. They might still ban you in future though.

    1. Indeed. The purpose of distance selling regulations is to protect customers from this sort of thing. As long as it were a credit card, it’s entirely reasonable to expect a refund from them (and you WILL get it).

      Personally I’d have to really really want to see something to put up with this shite from the online ticket sellers. After seeing what happened to my employer when they tried to integrate ticketbastard, I decided they were all best avoided, not least on moral grounds.

  3. Umm, so what exactly does the insurance protect you against, if not even the event being cancelled? Anything at all?

  4. And this is how you’re treated *after* you’ve bought their “insurance”. I dread to think what would have happened had you not. What terrible terrible customer service.

  5. Kathryn does indeed seem a lovely person, especially after you’ve basically said you’d rather see Radiohead than her ;-)

    The insurance, though, doesn’t seem to cover you for exactly the reasons you’d want it for.

    I’ve never understood the booking fee. Surely the ticket itself is you booking a place at the gig?

    The ticketing industry seems such a rip off.

    1. I have an explanation of the booking fee from a help See Tickets customer support person. It says:

      Each ticket that we sell carries a booking fee and a transaction fee. The booking fee pays for our services – the business costs of operating a web-site and 24-hour call centre, Customer Service department and Despatch teams – and is the only payment that See receive for operating.

      A transaction fee covers the cost of printing, packaging and postage for your tickets. When a show is cancelled or postponed, these fees are retained as See has still provided these services, and cannot issue a refund for them. This is all detailed in our terms & conditions which you are asked to read at the time of booking.

      Convinced? No, me neither.

      1. Printing? Bloody printing? That’s like Ford saying they’ll sell you a car for £10,000, but when you order it they charge you another £15,000 to make and put together all the parts.

  6. Sadly Seetickets aren’t the only annoying ticket sellers. The amount of times I’ve seen the option to get printed tickets sent for £2.50 or the choice to pay £1.50 or so to print my own. Why are we still charged when there’s neither a printing or posting cost associated with this method?

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