Nov 13 2012 by Perthshire Advertiser, Perthshire Advertiser
A family from Perth yesterday accused panto bosses of playing ‘Scrooge’ with their pricing policy.
Crawford and Louise Mollison plan to visit Mother Goose on December 22 with their son Finn (8). But the threesome were disappointed to find they do not count as a family.
Advertising agency owner Mr Mollison (47) contacted Horsecross Arts to query why having one child not two, hiked the total price up by £10. He told the PA: “We paid £19.50 each for two adult tickets and £12.50 for our son’s ticket, which comes to a total of £51.50 plus booking fee.
When making my booking, I tried to select the Family option - ‘available for a maximum of two adults’- as, in my mind, we are a family with two adults.
“Unfortunately this pricing option wasn’t available to our family. It’s just unfair in that it discriminates against families like ours, who have just one child.
“We’re talking about the Christmas panto. But where’s the seasonal cheer in being required to pay £5 more per adult ticket than your box-ticking family of four, who can view the same performance for £14.50 each?
“We can afford the tickets and bought our seats, but this is a real squeeze on single parent families.”
Mr Mollison contacted Horsecross to discuss the pricing structure, saying: “Given this is 2012 and families come in all sizes and parent and child combinations, your ticketing structure needs to be addressed and brought into line with the times.”
Horsecross swiftly responded, with a lengthy email from communications director Ben Jeffries. He said: “Perth Theatre offers full price tickets for adults and concession prices for a wide range of people including children.
“In addition to these open access concessions we discount for groups. We have found this to be an effective way of encouraging larger than average parties to attend, the average party size being between two and three.”
He told Mr Mollison that discounts for the panto are given to school groups, bulk buyers and family tickets - £60 for groups of four with a maximum of two adults.
“It is true, as you point out, that non-eligible groups cannot access these group discounts,” Mr Jeffries added. “It is quite common across all industries to operate a pricing policy where a cheaper rate is offered for bulk purchase.
“I do not believe it to be unfairly discriminatory that people not in groups cannot access group discounts. You too can access this discount and purchase four tickets for £60. Let me know if you would like an additional concession ticket and I would be happy to so amend your booking.”
But the Mollisons turned down the offer. “This policy of making families of three pay more per head is absolutely discriminatory,” Crawford raged. “There must be lots of single-parent families who have thought about going, but had to think again because of the price.”
Mr Jeffries told The PA yesterday: “Mr Mollison’s suggestion of making the lower per-ticket price available to all to cover any and all possible definitions of “family” - for example an adult with their parent - would not encourage group attendance, so the discount would not be achieving its goal.
“It would also in effect be an across-the-board reduction in price without any additional tickets being sold. While I understand the attraction of cheaper tickets I am afraid it would not be possible to afford to mount a pantomime if all existing sales were made at group discount prices.
“We are not a profit making body, but a charitable organisation and our ticket sales are levied at a rate which simply covers the cost of our operations.
“While we do explain the eligibility for the family discount, I will certainly look at making this clearer. We are perhaps wrong or at least not sufficiently specific in referring to this as a “family” discount. Not all families will be eligible for this group discount.”
He added that the term “family ticket” is a much used and widely understood to describe a group discount for larger families of two adults plus two concessions.
Defending the term, Mr Jeffries said: “It is a good, simple term for an offer which is targeted at families.
“I apologise if use of the term has caused confusion here.”
When shown the response from the panto organisers, Mr Mollison was unconvinced: “Even if Horsecross review the wording, they’re just shifting terminology. The same rules will apply.”