Advice on buying tickets by phone
Buying tickets by phone is convenient if you can't go to a
venue's box office in person or haven't got access to a computer to
book online. Some venues deal with particular types of booking
- for groups, for instance - only by phone. Phone booking also
gives you a chance to ask questions or get further information
(about transport links or catering at a venue, for instance) and
can be useful if you have a particular request, such as needing a
gangway seat or wheelchair access, which it might be more difficult
to specify when booking online. Many phone booking lines operate 24
hours a day, though it may take longer to get through at off-peak
As with other methods of ticket buying, there are a few things
to watch out for to make sure your ticket purchase is safe.
Making the call
How do I find a venue or ticket agency phone
- Box office phone numbers can almost always be found on a
promoter's or venue's own website, printed leaflets or
advertisements for an event or on promotional material such as a
season brochure. For London theatres, see the entertainment
listings in daily and Sunday national newspapers or the free
fortnightly printed Official London Theatre
Guide published by SOLT, the Society of London
Theatre, which is widely available across London and also online at
- Some venues have textphone (sometimes called "Minicom") numbers
for people with hearing impairment.
- Ticket agencies often advertise on their own behalf and
sometimes on their own printed leaflets, as well as displaying
their phone booking numbers on their websites.
Is the company a member of STAR?
Buying from a STAR member ensures you have an independent means
of redress through a recognised self-regulatory body should
anything go wrong. You can cross-check the list of STAR
members on this website or ask the STAR helpline
01904 234737 (+ 44 1904 234737 from outside the UK). If the
company IS a member, then you can proceed with your purchase with
Who am I speaking to?
- The phone number published by a venue generally goes directly
to its own box office, but some companies operating several venues
have one central phone box office for all their venues. Venues may
publish several phone numbers in their own advertisements or
newspaper listings, including their own box office number and/or
numbers for agencies whom they have authorised to sell tickets on
- Many venue box offices automatically divert phone calls to
their authorised ticket agency outside box office opening hours
(generally 10am to 8pm) or if the main box office number is
overloaded, to save callers from waiting to get through or hearing
an engaged tone. If your call is diverted to an agency in this way,
the person answering should identify themself as being "at X agency
on behalf of Y venue", so that you know you are speaking to an
- Some ticket agencies operate 24-hour phone lines but others may
only be available during daytime office hours or until about
8.00pm, just after most evening performances have started.
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Buying your tickets
Buying a ticket by phone is much the same as buying in person at
a box office or ticket agency. Some phone systems are programmed
with options allowing you to hear recorded information about the
venue or event or the standard terms and conditions of sale before
you speak to an operator. You should make sure before giving your
credit or debit card details that you know exactly what tickets you
are buying and if there are any special conditions.
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
- 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
- If you buy from a venue, you may be given the option of having
your tickets sent to you or of collecting them from the box office
yourself before the performance. In some cases, tickets may only be
sent out close to the actual performance date, to help combat
fraud. The box office should tell you at the time of booking if
this will be the case.
If you buy from a ticket agent
- Although some agencies are authorised to supply the venue's own
tickets (most often for music events), you will generally receive
an agency voucher rather than the venue's own tickets. The voucher
must have the same relevant information about the performance on it
as the venue's own tickets - venue name, event name, date
and time of performance, seat numbers and any special conditions,
such as a viewing restriction - together with the face
value of the tickets and any 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 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 queue.
Will I pay a booking fee for a phone
- Practice varies from company to company. Venues may charge a
booking fee for phone bookings depending on their policy, or, for
instance, on whether tickets are to be posted to the customer or
collected from the box office. Ticket agencies will almost always
charge a booking fee for any sale, whether in person, by phone or
online. See "What is a booking fee?" for further
- Under the STAR Code of Practice
STAR members must always tell you if they are charging a booking
fee in addition to the face value of the ticket they
are selling you.
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- Ask when your tickets will arrive. Promoters often don't allow
tickets to be sent out until very close to the event date, to help
reduce problems with counterfeiting of tickets or other fraud. This
can be a worrying delay for some customers. A reputable
seller will, however, always ensure that you gain entry to the
event for which you have bought tickets. Problems can occasionally
arise for general admission events (non-seated events) when tickets
don't reach the purchaser or if you lose them or destroy them
accidentally. Licensing and health and safety considerations may
mean that these tickets cannot be duplicated and you may not gain
access to the event.
Some major ticket sellers regularly update information on their
website help pages to indicate when tickets will be despatched.
If you have bought tickets for someone else and
duplicates have to be provided at the venue, you may have to
arrange for a letter of authority if you are not able to collect
the tickets yourself.
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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 should I look for if I am buying from an Online
Make sure it is a reputable company and that they offer a
reliable guarantee that ensures you get replacement tickets or a
full refund if there is a problem providing your tickets.
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.
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
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