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relax with a cup of green tea

Card handling fee?

Paula and I are off to see the last Harry Potter film and in 3D as well. So I booked online and to my horror Vue Cinema slapped £1:40 on for a card handling fee. That’s not on any more and to be frank it never has been. Banks charge business to check to see if the card is being used fraudulently. The business and the banks negotiate a price above which the business need to call the bank for a card check and below which they don’t - which is why sometimes your card gets passed straight away and sometimes not when in a store. The banks charge the business for this check which is why the business want the limit as high as possible but the banks want it as low as possible because they cover the cost of fraudulent card use below this limit - not the shop. So a business charging me money directly for a check to see if my card is fake etc is a bit galling as its for their benefit not mine.

Now consider this. Why do many stores like to offer you cash bak - a very handy service for us all. Because the stores get charged by the banks for handling their cash deposit so the less of it the less it costs them and they carry less hard cash which has the added benefit of being less of a robbery target. This cost is built into the business mark up so when I pay by card that gets checked I am also paying for cash handling. As a customer I am getting charged twice. Boo.

So I have complained to Vue Cinemas:

You have just charged me an additional £1:40 card handling fee. I know your excuse for this is that the banks charge you for authorising the transaction but £1:40 - can your management teams not negotiate a better rate? Thing is that you also pay the banks to handle your cash don’t you - and yet that cost is already built into the ticket price - so please refund me the cost of the cash reconciliation for this transaction.

Why discriminate against me because I have decided to book online to reserve seats and therefore have to pay by card.

You should not charge extra for card processing - it should be built into the ticket price.

If I get any sort of reply I will post it here.

9th August 2011
Got a reply!

Thank you for your recent feedback via
Please see the response from Vue Customer services below:

Dear Mr Cox,

Thank you for your response.

Please be aware that we incur a cost for each credit card transaction processed whichever way it is purchased; we believe that the convenience of being able to pre-book your tickets remotely is a service that warrants a charge. Therefore we pass the credit card cost onto the customer; similarly to the majority of leisure outlets such as concerts, sporting and theatre venues.

However, we absorb this cost for customers purchasing their tickets at the cinema itself. Please be advised that when our tickets go on sale, they are sold through all of our mechanisms at the same time to provide choice for our customers and therefore this cost can be avoided should you not wish to incur the fee.

I hope this helps, however if you require further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Kind Regards,


To reply to this message, please click here.

I replied - it bounced. So I followed the link in the email - server failure.

Here is my reply - I am broadcasting it as I can’t reply directly to them.


That’s a rubbish explanation.

I cannot book tickets online with cash. That’s a fact. Therefore you charge me extra to book online - ie to book in advance.


And that’s the end of that. Far better things to do with my time and Cinema, which I used to love, is becoming just a big expensive irrelevant pain.

by | 07 Aug 2011 |

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