Doctor Who: Why I won't be buying a Whoniverse Ticket

Hub Productions has released its pricing for Whoniverse, an Australian event featuring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. It would seem like a bit of a can’t-miss proposition, but that’s exactly what I’ll be doing — and price has little to do with it.
When Hub Productions announced its “Whoniverse” event, it scored itself a rather large publicity coup; not quite Matt Smith’s first post-Who convention appearance, but appreciably close, and significant for the Australian market.
I wrote it up at Gizmodo at the time, and it was a phenomenally popular topic, despite the fact that venues and pricing were yet to be announced.
That’s now been rectified, with pricing going up. Here it is, as per the ticket pricing page, although it’s worth noting that venues haven’t yet been announced, so you know how much you’ll be paying, but not for where.
The price is likely to be a barrier for many, and that’s unsurprising in both directions. Matt Smith particularly is a hot commodity right now, and if I were his agent I’d be demanding top dollar for his services. Top dollar prices for talent means, ultimately, top dollar prices for tickets.
They’re on the very painful side, and it’d be worth considering that if you could arbitrarily afford the high tier prices, a flight to the UK or US, where conventions are more frequent and significantly cheaper would also be a possibility.
But I digress; while the prices are high, I can see why they’re high.
Actually, while I digress, I could also express concern at a convention business that can’t seem to run a website that isn’t riddled with either missing pages or code that won’t render properly. Not good enough if you want $950 of my money, but again that’s not actually the primary reason I’ll be staying away.
No, the reason why I’ll be giving this particular event a very wide berth indeed is contained a little further down on the ticketing page:
“Change of advertised guests due to work commitments or other circumstances does not qualify for ticket refunds. Please note that every effort will be made to replace the guests.”
I’m sorry, but WHAT?
There’s part of my head — the part that writes intermittently about consumer issues, but I must stress I’m not a lawyer — that wonders about the applicability of that clause under Australian consumer law. Unable to provide services paid for, and all that, and clearly the attraction of Smith, Gillan and Darvill is the service you’re paying for.
But even if that passes the legal sniff test — and I’m honestly not sure it does — it’s essentially placing every last part of the risk associated with buying a ticket on the paying audience.
That’s you and me; Hub doesn’t want to take any risks, as a glance around their site suggests this is standard operating procedure for their events. You pays your money, but they take no risks of running at any kind of loss, even if their guests drop out.
I don’t think that’s in any way reasonable at all.
Yes, there are instances of substitution in live events — understudies for plays and the like due to illness — but here you’re paying for an event similar in effect to a live concert.
If you paid $950 for Rolling Stones tickets only to to be told that the Stones got a better offer (or in certain cases, got stoned) and instead that the headline act that night would be Glenn Medeiros, would you happily put up with it?

I certainly wouldn’t, but the only way to make that clear is by not buying a ticket in the first place.
Update: With a hat tip to Mark (and a link), it would appear that Hub Productions has, shall we say, “form” in this kind of event. But not the good kind of “form”.

6 thoughts on “Doctor Who: Why I won't be buying a Whoniverse Ticket”

  1. I don’t know if i can trust this company, i’d love to see all 3 guests but being that its about 7 weeks away and they haven’t announced the venues left leaves a lot to be desired. Also being a Who fan on a limited budget, what does the cheapest $100 ticket get me, from what i can read C grade seating to the panel discussion and access to a merchandise room, no info on how long the panel will go for or any other details.

  2. Also interesting to note- the date for the Perth event was advertised for ages as the Sunday 2nd of March. The same day as the local anime convention wai-con . Then all of a sudden about Monday the date changed to the Monday 3rd of March. Which leads me to think they have put this together without checking around at all for local events… Doesn’t fill me with confidence at all

  3. also if you look closely at the pricing- if you want a signature or a photograph you need to buy a Gold or Silver ticket, you can’t buy individual ones
    “These will be available in limited supply to purchase on the day for Gold and Silver Package attendees:”
    $650 when i only want a single signature? not cool

  4. I had the good fortune to go to the 50th anniversary celebration in London last year. Tickets cost 45 quid The day included an awesome series of panels, interactive sessions, photo opportunities, so.much.merchandise etc. To get a photo with Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman was an extra 30 pounds. You got so much more for so much less. I hope people are not actually paying $950. Seriously, for the cost of two gold glass tickets, you could fly overseas and go to a better convention.

  5. It appears, due to a “personal emergency”, Matt Smith has cancelled. I gather Karen Gillan was also only attending some, not all, of the shows. Due to this the whole thing has been cancelled. Their web page at does say they will be supplying refunds. What a shame they (indirectly) caused the cancellation of Whovention ( before they self-destructed.

  6. It’s funny now that Who is “in” just how many companies are running conventions (both dedicated Who cons and cons with Who guests). That aside, this “non-refund if guests can’t make it” biz is par for the course in my experience of Oz cons, with the exception of fanclub-run cons. I’ve been to one non-fanclub con and never again. It’s all business, all about milking fans for every cent and too impersonal for me. You can feel the diff between a fan/fanclub-run event and a business-run event, and I bet the guests can too.

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