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The Capitol – also better than the O2?

August 6th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Life · No Comments · Life

The Capitol in Horsham was not mentioned in that list of the 100 best music venues, and this is not about that anyway, but about one way in which many of the country’s bigger venues could learn a lesson from Horsham.I am pretty sure I saw something in one of the local papers about the comedian Stewart Lee appearing in Crawley as part of his post-Edinburgh Fringe tour, and kept meaning to book tickets for it.  On Sunday night when I finally got round to it ((reminded by seeing his picture in a leaflet the BHA gave me in Trafalgar Square)) I could not find anything about it on the Hawth’s website.  I looked at Stewart Lee’s website for tour details and Crawley wasn’t on there either.  Maybe I mis-read or maybe it was cancelled for some reason, but I spotted that he was going to be in Horsham in October so I booked for that instead.

On the Capitol website you can choose your seats, and so I chose a couple right in the front row, almost in the middle.  It is unusual to find such good seats still available when half the place is already booked – but this is comedy.  Perhaps the front row will sell first for a concert, but bands tend not to pick on people in the front row and rip the piss out of them like comedians do.  I don’t think Stewart Lee is that sort of comic, and I hope I am right.  I certainly wouldn’t choose front row seats for the Pub Landlord.

Anyway, after choosing my seats, it was time to pay, and there was the unavoidable administration charge/online booking fee to add on top.   It was 70p – flat charge for the whole booking.  Because I opted to have the tickets posted rather than pick them up there was another 30p to add on, so there was a toal of a pound added on the whole transaction.

I am enormously impressed by that. Only a pound.  It was totally avoidable, but I was happy to pay it as it seemed reasonable enough.  The normal routine now is for venues or agencies to make tickets only available online and then to charge several pounds as a booking fee. Per ticket.  If tickets for a concert are £20 you can easily pay more than £50 for a pair, and this practice is widely detested.

We all know that it does not cost several pounds to process a ticket order, and it doesn’t cost more to post 2, 3, or 4 tickets than to post 1.   In fact by booking online you probably incur less administration than turning up at on old-fashioned box office in person and making a clerk take time to serve you.   No wonder everybody sees this as a rip-off and just a way for more profit to be made.  With the Capitol, the charge feels proportionate and so I will go along to this show without the chip on my shoulder that usually accompanies me to concerts and shows.

The big venues could take a lesson from the Capitol in that respect.

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