Absolutely yes, they are. Doesn't mean you have to pay it though.
I remember the ol' days at conventions when autographs were free. I also remember (and no disrespect here by any means) the kind of guests you had! As someone has rightly said, Mr Cumberbatch is essentially one of the biggest British stars right now in TV and movies. Is it expensive to get an autograph? Yep. That's why I haven't got one. It's not a question of fairness, it's a question of choices. You can not make everyone happy. I miss the SM events when everyone was £10-15, but then it's nice to see what guests they are getting even if 99% of the time they are at a price level I wouldn't be willing to pay!
VQ worked out well for me today. I wanted to see Trica Helfer, Tom Skerritt, Mark Sheppard and Alan Tudyk (still amazed that the truly wonderful Veronica Cartwright and John Rhys Davis weren't VQ guests...). I got low VQ numbers, and lucked out. I had met the 17 people I wanted to see today by 12:30. That said, I was queuing up outside at 7am with my general entry ticket. It was worth it.
You can not make everyone happy. These events now are too big (and expensive). The diamond guests, the likes of Mr Cumberbatch, yeah you are going to have to get a Diamond pass. It is the way of the world now.