The only other reliable method is buying from authorised Theatre
Ticket Agencies. Agencies are independent companies who work with
theatres to sell tickets on their behalf. The reason is that
theatres can only reach so many clients at a time, and agencies
often have their own special market - like corporate or incoming
tourists. Agencies were also historically (and indeed for weekend
performances still) made to pay for tickets in
advance thus taking the financial risk of unsold seats from the
producer's bank balance to their own. Their profits now come from
either adding their own service fee to the ticket price or from a
commission paid on sales by the theatre producer. Needless to say the service
fee option is the norm!
Legitimate agencies carry the 'STAR' Logo in their advertisements.
STAR can be contacted by telephone on 0844 879 4272 or click here
for the Society of Ticket Agents
& Retailers website. Additionally, most STAR member websites
carry a further "verification" system graphic:
Simply clicking on it will open a new box confirming the website
address of the page you are seeing, and verifying that it is a
member of STAR.
Members include Lovetheatre.com - who operate the Theatremonkey
020 7420 9778 (0044 207 420 9778 if calling from outside the United Kingdom),
Ticketmaster, Abbey, Albemarle, Leicester
Square Box Office, Group Line, LondonTheatreDirect, Ticket Web (a
division of Ticketmaster which also sell on behalf of the Society Of
London Theatres website), London
Theatre Booking (incorporating Fenchurch and Rakes ticket agencies), Lashmar,
Lastminute.com and ELondon.
Theatremonkey.com is proud to be an Affiliate Member of the
Society, supporting its work and protecting Theatremonkey.com guests at all times.
Website details (where
applicable) for these
agencies are given on the links
page of this site.
These agents normally add a maximum 25% booking fee to tickets and are committed to
the best in service. Please also be aware that if an event is cancelled, refunds
may be limited to the price of the ticket only, with the 'booking fee' not
refunded. This applies particularly to pop concert events.
See Tickets, who operate the box office for all Really Useful
Group Theatres, withdrew from STAR in early 2013. They do, however,
remain a genuine and safe company to purchase tickets from.
ALSO WORTH KNOWING:
Some companies buy up of website names that
LOOK LIKE, BUT ARE NOT the official theatre website. For example,
the official site to buy tickets from the Prince Edward Theatre is
that of the owners - delfontmackintosh.co.uk. A search engine
result, though, brings up sites like "ThePrinceEdwardTheatre.com"
(example, not an actual or genuine site) before the official one in
the listing. Sites like the fictional "ThePrinceEdwardTheatre.com"
are owned by agents - either STAR members, STAR sub-agents or even
touts / scalpers. Whoever, they are NOT the box office website and
you'll pay more than you would via the official site. Theatremonkey
advises strongly that you check exactly who you are booking through.
On its listings pages, the monkey always shows the official sites
first, followed by legitimate agents. It urges all guests to take
care, as this trend is trapping even the wariest in the jungle.
On the street, alas, one agency looks like another. Most (if not telephone
only businesses) have shopfronts in the theatre district, plastered with adverts
and offers. Look for the STAR logo, and When buying, insist on exercising your rights enshrined in the Price
Indications (Resale of Tickets) Regulations 1994. The regulations are available
in PDF format from http://www.dti.gov.uk/ccp/topics1/guide/pricetickets.pdf. The
LAW says you MUST be told the face value - box office direct price - of tickets
before any fees are added. Always also demand to be shown the location of your
ticket on a seating plan.
Seating plans always show the 'Stalls' - "Orchestra Stalls" to Americans (the
seats in the lowest part of the venue, below stage level) at the bottom of the page, with any
circles / balconies further up the page, divided off by thin lines. The Stalls
is always the largest block of seats with the most rows in it. Row A (or a
letter close to it - B or C; or prefixed by them AA, AB, BB, AX etc) is the front row in every section of a theatre, stalls or
circles / balconies. Pillars show up as black dots on seating plans, and an
unusual white space in among rows of seats is also a giveaway. If you are not
shown a seating plan, and your tickets are not pointed out on it, walk
Other good signs are credit card taking facilities with the name on the
machine matching that of the agency. Most agents issue their own tickets either
computerised or on hand-written pre-printed vouchers which have spaces for date,
seat numbers and theatre to be filled in, above a bold printed seating area word
e.g. Stalls or Dress Circle etc. If they have been given actual tickets from the
theatre, the name or initials of the agency will appear on the ticket, usually
near the bottom of it.
A compliment slip or A4 headed notepaper leaf is NOT recognised to be a
ticket! Similarly, a ticket does not live in a sealed envelope. NEVER accept
tickets in one to open later. OPEN IT THERE AND THEN (see warning
story), better still, walk away
and leave the envelope in the scoundrel's pocket and the cash in yours. A
legitimate agent in a shop will give you a ticket. Never agree to call back
later or pick up a ticket at the box office before the show. Ticket prices
should NEVER be blacked out by inkblots or cut off a ticket.
The major London department stores - Harrods, Selfridges etc have
ticket sales desks, as do major hotels. If in doubt,
use these genuine stores.
Really bad signs include handwritten notices offering tickets to
major sporting events like "Wimbledon" and the World Cup finals.
Such special tickets would not normally be traded on the street -
indeed in Britain it is illegal to re-sell most football match
Signs promising "Half Price Tickets" should be ignored too, unless
the agent can prove S.T.A.R membership.
A good agency will also offer you a single seat. A ticket tout /
scalper will normally refuse or charge you a "premium" for breaking
up their "pair" of tickets. This is a very good way of spotting the
legitimate operator - any real agency can return an unsold ticket to
the box office for use, a tout cannot and must sell what they have.
Streets and around the TKTS ticket booth in Leicester Square
Ignore anyone standing outside a theatre or next to the TKTS half price
ticket booth queuing line offering tickets. You will end up in the
worst possible seats (if you get in at all) and pay eight times the
face value for the privilege.
The major, theatre industry run, half price theatre ticket booth in
Leicester Square is the large white booth standing alone in front of
the Odeon West End, on the Square itself.
Some other shops offering half price tickets as you walk from the
underground station towards this safe haven may be genuine S.T.A.R. outlets (click
here to help spot them), others, though, MIGHT sell you a ticket at half the
price the owner thinks of, (five times the correct price to begin with) not half
face value. You may also be sold a cheapest balcony seat worth £10, relying on
your ignorance of theatre terms. In England 'balcony' is the fourth circle at
the top of the theatre. You are duped into thinking 'balcony' means the 'Dress
Circle' (the first circle, containing the prime seats worth £60+ for musicals).
See First Time Tips on this website.
A VERY SAD, TRUE story of the problem "indoor touts and scalpers"
cause can be read here. Follow the good
ticket outlet walking trail for a little more advice on the problem.
The TKTS Booth.
Transactions at the legitimate half price ticket booth take place
from Monday to Saturday 9am to 7pm;
Sunday from 10.30am until 4 pm through the little window openings
facing the Odeon West End. The choice of shows is printed on
laminated sheets slid into a freestanding zigzag signboard to the
side of the booth, and on electronic signboards. They are removed at closing or as all seats are
sold (though one reader reports that if you ask nicely, they will
phone the theatre to get extra seats if they are not too busy - the
monkey can't verify this will happen all the time - but felt it was
useful to know.). Show titles crudely chalked on the signboard
outside opening hours should be ignored, as should the
gentlemen standing by the signs.
As reader Kathy Sutter, a TKTS fan says -
"Note the real 1/2 price booth all those shops on
that side street are NOT even close to really 1/2 price"
Also note that on "film premiere" days at the various cinemas on Leicester
Square, you may have to approach the booth from another direction. Ask a police
officer for advice and be prepared to walk around the "long way" (often via an
access road from Orange Street) if necessary.
www.tkts.co.uk gives an idea of what is
on offer up to 2 days ahead, while their
page and Twitter give updates too.
Remember, though, to ignore the Twitter Twits who push their own sites on this
service. Make sure you only use the genuine TKTS one.
Tickets for sold out events, notably concerts, are often offered for sale on
online auction / marketplace sites. While sellers may well be legitimate, and
abiding by the trading site's purchase codes, you have no way of telling who
they are. Inadvertently you could be buying from a tout / scalper. Prices are
also very high. "Let the buyer beware" is the motto here.
Theatremonkey does not endorse buying from these sources. It does not sell
tickets, and does not participate in any form of online auction. Links from
auctions to this website are not made by Theatremonkey and Theatremonkey.com
DOES NOT take responsibility for the legitimacy of the seller or tickets being
offered. Please do however use the data on this site to make up your own mind
about each deal.
A true reader's story... and one from a box office manager...
On a short visit to London it is tempting to pay anything for a ticket to a
SOLD OUT show. If you are desperate, a tout or scalper promising seats is
inviting. If you have cash to burn and a head for heights, a love of a gamble,
eagle eyes which can see through a pillar or a face at 200 feet away, and truly,
truly, want to just be in the theatre where the show is playing: Try a scalper.
Someone has to get lucky, even playing 'Three Card Monty' or 'Russian Roulette.'
Just remember, you are contributing to a world of
clerks attacked in the street as an encouragement to supply tickets, thieves
stealing from tourist or employer, money laundering, etc.
Your action also helps keep you out of the theatre by making it worthwhile
for touts to buy tickets to sell on. Theatremonkey has attended hot shows with
empty seats - caused by touts buying ahead of ordinary people. This time, no one
bought from them. If this happened EVERY time, the crime would end as the market
ceased to exist. Poor left out you could have bought that ticket first.
Still want that ticket now????
P.S. Don't bother expecting the police to help you. They will be brilliantly
sympathetic of course, but the chances of prosecution are minimal. The theatres
and producers have disclaimers to rely on, and so there is little sympathy
going. Like we said… Still want that ticket now???
Very sadly, in March 2003 the monkey received this
genuine story from a reader. The person asks that this be posted
here as a helpful warning to others who might be tempted by the many
shops around the theatre district:
"We had our first visit to London for many years to meet friends
there. We booked one show at a ticket office in Leicester Square
(The middle booth of three within a few yards of each other) and got
four tickets for 'Mamma Mia' at the Prince Edward Theatre.
We didn't know that the "Grand Circle" was, in reality, the Upper
Circle and the man in the booth certainly didn't tell us. He never
told us either that we were paying a premium for the seats, £30 for
seats at a face value of £20; and we finished with four seats that we
later found Theatremonkey labelled on your web site in RED.
The tickets were waved in front of us and then put into an envelope
with the receipt and the envelope was sealed. Neither our friends or
ourselves thought to look at either the tickets or the receipts
until later that day at the theatre and found we were unable to see
the faces of any of the cast, nor was I able to hear more than a few
words of the dialogue. So much so that I decided to leave the
theatre at the intermission but only stayed because I didn't want to
spoil the evening for the other three any more than it had been
Stupid? - yes we were. Gullible? - yes. But we are not regular
theatregoers and, sadly, I still tend to trust people. It was bad
enough being ripped off (we checked with a large number of people at
the theatre and found that they had all paid face value for the
tickets) but a very rare evenings enjoyment was totally spoiled."
In May 2007 the following was passed on by a prominent West End
theatre Box Office Manager*:
*note that the above company is referred to specifically, and is not
to be confused with any other bearing a similar name. Any
co-incidence or confusion is not intended and cannot be implied.
Opinion expressed is that of the reporting person of an actual event
www.eventandticketexpert.co.uk focuses on attending, organising
and getting tickets for events, and has great advice and articles on
the subject of tickets and their resale too.
PLEASE, PLEASE BE CAREFUL!