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    Confused by prices of tickets for London theatre shows? With prices going up in the West End, producers introducing "premium seats" and many agencies with booking fees - it is no wonder the public are worried about what they are paying for tickets for London theatre shows.

    Firstly, what is face value and sale price? The producers or event organisers set the price of a seat ticket. Often agencies have to pay the price of that ticket without any kind of commission so an agency then adds a booking fee to the price of the ticket. This is how they make their money and the fee covers the cost of the booking service, labour costs, credit card commissions and other business costs including VAT.

    How much booking fee? If you see a hugely exorbitant fee and even worse, are not told what the face value of the ticket is then it is likely you are at best being way overcharged and at worse buying a non existing ticket and being completely conned. It is best to always buy your tickets from an agency that is part of STAR - The Society of Ticket Agencies and Retailers. STAR have just launched a new kitemark that identifies reputable ticket outlets that adhere to the self-regulatory body's code of conduct and are authorised to sell tickets by event organisers. This code of conduct means that the agency will charge a minimum of 10% on the face value but never more than 25%...and they always display the face value so you know exactly what you are being charged.

    What about the prices for tickets for the London theatre shows? Producers seem to love cashing in on celebratory appearances which is a pity for the regular theatre goer who is the backbone of the industry. This type of marketing has bought about a phenomenon producers like to call dynamic pricing - taking top price seats and calling them premiums with a nice hike in the price. However, if they don't sell these "premium" seats by the day of the show they then get reduced back to top price seats with the customer being told they have got a reduction. Unless you are completely desperate to see a production and accompanying star and just have to sit in a certain row and seat, it really is not worth going along with the hype. Hopefully producers will stop the trend of turning normal seats in the stalls into premiums just on the basis of the star name.

    It is customary for discounts to be offered to those making group bookings. It ensures that more tickets are sold earlier than may otherwise be expected and this of course is to the producers' advantage as well as benefitting their group customers. So if you are planning a trip to the West End it is worth trying to get a group together to take advantage of the discounts. There can still be some bargains for tickets for London theatre shows!

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