Online ticket booking fees slammed by Which? magazine

Consumer magazine Which? has criticised the practice of applying fees to the online sale of entry tickets at some British theme parks.

Fees of between £1 and £1.50 are charged against online ticket orders for several theme parks in the UK.

The charges, which are for each transaction and not each ticket ordered, can be sometimes up to seven times the actual administration cost, according to the magazine.

Fees are present at three Merlin Entertainments theme parks, as well as a number of smaller independent theme parks.

A number of parks do not charge the fees, which are alternatively referred to as ‘transaction’, ‘booking’ and ‘processing’ charges.

‘Misleading and unfair’

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “We think card surcharges are completely misleading and unfair.

“They make it hard for consumers to see the true cost of their purchase. The Treasury must act quickly to put an end to debit card charges.

“While budget airlines may be the worst offenders, excessive card surcharges are widespread, with everyone from cinemas and visitor attractions through to train companies getting in on the act.”

Merlin do no charge booking fees to those paying on the day at their theme parks, nor do they charge for online bookings for their other UK attractions, with the exception of the £1 charge at Warwick Castle.

Lloyd added: “If the charges are genuinely in place to cover the costs faced by business, why does Merlin Entertainments only charge card fees for some of its attractions and then only for online customers?”

A spokeswoman for Merlin was quoted in the Daily Star newspaper as saying: “Given an average transaction for the parks of £75, this charge is minimal and it is more than offset by the significant discounts available for booking in advance online.”

Alton Towers is amongst the highest chargers, with a £1.50 booking fee

Who charges what

We have researched into the current charges for using Visa debit card employed by parks in the UK. Only parks stated were checked. Prices were accurate at time of writing.

Alton Towers
Drayton Manor
Lightwater Valley
Thorpe Park

Chessington World of Adventures

No fee
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Fantasy Island
Flamingo Land
Legoland Windsor
Pleasure Island
Pleasurewood Hills

The Office of Fair Trading last month recommended to the British government that surcharging be be outlawed or restricted, but it has not yet responded.