Advice on buying tickets in person
When buying a ticket in person, it pays to watch out for a few
points that don't apply when you buy online or by phone, as you
often don't have the time to check things as thoroughly.
Many ticket outlets around London's West End are operated by
STAR members. If you are buying tickets in person then you
are safest buying from the venue box office itself or from one of
our members. Because of their excellent business
relationships with producers and theatres, STAR members can
sometimes offer good discounts on normal ticket prices which might
not be available from the venue itself.
Buying your tickets
The way that customers usually suffer at the hands of
unscrupulous ticket sellers around the West End is because the face
value of the ticket being purchased is not given accurately, if at
all. Sometimes customers, particularly tourists, who believe
they are buying top-price tickets end up with some of the poorest
and cheapest seats in the theatre. This is not acceptable and
contravenes the law which requires facts that are material to a
customer's decision to purchase to be provided (Consumer Protection
from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008).
The minimum details a customer should expect to be
provided with are:
- The face value of the ticket(s) (the price set
by the venue/event organiser)
- The amount being charged by the ticket seller. This enables you
to know if the ticket seller is charging more than the face value -
a booking fee - and therefore
the amount of that fee.
- Any factors relating to the ticket purchased that might affect
the customer's enjoyment of the event (for instance, if the ticket
is for a seat with a restricted view of the stage).
A good ticket seller will provide you with this information
without any problem. If you are not provided with the
information then the seller may be trying to hide a material fact
If you buy from a venue box office
- You will receive printed tickets with all the relevant details
- venue name, name and time of the event, seat numbers, price paid
and often a booking reference - printed on them. All you need to do
then is turn up in time for the performance, take your seat and
enjoy the show.
If you buy from a STAR member or other
- You should expect to be shown the exact location of your seats
on the venue's seating plan.
- You will be given an agency voucher rather than the venue's own
tickets. Usually these vouchers will be printed, but a very few
agencies (almost always concierge desks in major hotels) still
write the details by hand, so don't be alarmed if this is the case.
The voucher must have the same relevant information about the
performance on it as the venue's own tickets, together with the
face value of the tickets and the booking fee, as well as the name
and contact details of the agency itself.
- Many printed agency vouchers allow you to go straight to your
seat when you get to the venue but for others (particularly
hand-written ones) you'll need to go to the box office when your
first arrive and exchange your voucher for the venue's own tickets.
The agency should tell you which applies to your tickets - if they
don't, then ask - and, if you're exchanging a voucher, allow some
extra time when going to the venue in case there's a box office
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Things to watch out for
- Look for the STAR logo displayed by members, often on the
outside of the agency's office or by the counter. You can also
check the list of STAR members on this website
or by contacting the STAR helpline on 0844 879 4272.
- Never buy tickets from anyone selling them on the street or
outside a venue, as these tickets may be stolen, forged or have
been cancelled by the venue or promoter, meaning that you won't be
able to see the show.
- Be suspicious if you are asked by a ticket seller to pay for
your tickets, sign a "receipt" and then come back later to collect
them or to pick them up from the venue's box office: it probably
means that the seller hasn't actually got the tickets they are
offering you - and needs time to acquire some - or that the tickets
you'll eventually get are not the ones you thought you were buying
(typically you pay for stalls (orchestra) seats but get tickets for
cheaper seats elsewhere in the auditorium). No STAR member operates
in this way.
- All STAR members have a copy of the Model Terms and
Conditions of Sale and the STAR Code of Practice
which you can ask to see before you pay them any money. This covers
all the aspects of ticket selling we talk about here.
Around the West End, there are many sales outlets - including
some STAR members - offering tickets at "half-price" and some claim
to be an "official" half-price ticket agency.
Since there is no licensing or registration system for ticket
agents, there is no such thing as an "official" agency. However,
the good business relationships which many STAR members have with
venues and promoters mean that they can often offer some discounted
tickets, so always check for the STAR membership logo outside the
agency or by the sales counter.
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Things to check for
What happens if the event is cancelled or
STAR members will ensure that you are either offered tickets for
a rescheduled performance or that you receive a refund of at least
the face value. You may not be able to reclaim postage costs if the
tickets have already been sent to you.
What happens if you can't attend the performance for
which you've booked tickets?
It is usual for ticket sellers NOT to be able to offer you the
opportunity to exchange or cancel your booking - check the terms
and conditions of sale. However, for events where there is more
than one performance (for instance, shows in the West End) it is
worthwhile asking, as some sellers may be able to help by
exchanging your tickets for another performance or, particularly
for high-selling shows, offering them for resale.
Some ticket sellers offer insurance when they sell you a ticket,
which gives you additional protection if circumstances prevent you
attending, a bit like holiday insurance. Don't forget also to
insure other risks such as travel and accommodation that are
essential to you attending an event, if they aren't purchased as a
package together with your ticket.
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If things go wrong
We very much hope that this information has helped you to secure
tickets for the event of your choice and that you'll just be able
to sit back and enjoy the show. However, if there is a
problem with your purchase from a STAR Member, then click here to
find out How to make a complaint.
If you have not bought from a STAR Member and would like to
report a possible fraud then the best place to do this is at http://www.actionfraud.org.uk/
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