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Jason Manford hits out at ATG booking fees

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Comedian Jason Manford has criticised theatre operator Ambassador Theatre Group for charging high fees on top of tickets to his show, calling the organisation “parasites of the highest order”.

Manford, whose show First World Problems is currently touring to venues across the UK, said he would “never play” at an ATG venue again until the company lowers its “preposterous booking charges”.

He said: “These booking agents are parasites of the highest order, overcharging you and making it look like it’s the performer. I can only apologise for the people already booked.”

Manford claimed on his Facebook page that for his show at the Oxford New Theatre, which is owned by ATG, a £9 fee is charged in addition to the original £22.50 ticket price for an online booking.

He said he had already reduced the ticket price from £25 on the last tour because of additional charges and urged his fans not to buy tickets from ATG in the future.

Referring to the Oxford New Theatre, Manford added: “The maddest thing about ATG is they also own the venue. So not only do they take £9 off you but they take 20% off me as well. So they actually make £13.50 off both me and you. And for what exactly?”

Last year comedian Sarah Millican revealed she would not be taking her show to ATG venues for her 2013 tour because of the high charges ATG adds to tickets.

Writing on her website she said: “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.”

A spokesman for ATG said its booking fees cover the costs of providing a high level of customer service, which includes staffing, systems,  a UK-based call centre and associated administration costs.

He added that fees only apply to customers who buy on the phone or online and that more than half of ATG’s customers do not pay booking charges because they purchase tickets in person at venue box offices.

He said: “ATG’s ticketing operation is selling tickets on behalf of the producers of shows bringing their shows to our venues. All, or the vast majority, of the sales income from the ticket goes to the producer, hence the need to charge for ticketing operations separately.”

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