The music industry has recently seen an increase in the number of concerts using restricted ticketing systems. Already, more than twice as many concerts use restricted tickets in 2013, than in 2012. Restricted tickets are tied to the purchaser’s credit card and photo ID and cannot be easily transferred or given to family and friends as gifts.
“With so many great concerts and sporting events going on all summer long, tickets make an ideal gift for fans,” said Fan Freedom Consumer Advocate Elizabeth Owen. “But buyers should be sure to read the fine print and use caution when purchasing tickets online.”
“Too often when trying to buy event tickets, consumers encounter unpleasant surprises – from scams, to unanticipated restrictions, to instant sellouts,” said Linda Sherry, Director of Priorities at Consumer Action. “The last thing we want to happen is consumers buying a thoughtful present for a recent grad or mom or dad only to find out they ended up with fraudulent tickets or tickets that can’t be given as gifts.”
As many consumers begin to buy tickets to this summer’s great concert lineup, Consumer Action and Fan Freedom issue the following tips to help prepare them for the most common ticket-buying pitfalls.
The guide advises consumers to:
1. Read the Fine Print: Just because you bought a ticket doesn’t mean you can give it away as a gift. Some concerts and sporting events sell restricted paperless or Will Call Only tickets, requiring the buyer to show up at the venue and present the purchasing credit card and photo ID. With such tickets, the buyer does not receive a physical ticket and cannot easily transfer these tickets. When buying paperless tickets as a gift, Ticketmaster recommends that you pay with the recipient’s credit card and reimburse them.
2. Look into Presales: Ticket presales and holdbacks are a common practice for big-name artists but they can amount to up to 90 percent of the total tickets, leaving only 10 percent available to the general public. Holdbacks occur when artists, management, venues and ticketing companies pre-sell or appropriate tickets to fan club members, VIPs, premium credit card holders and personal acquaintances. For example, for a recent Justin Bieber concert in Nashville, only 1,001 out of 14,000 seats were available during the public on-sale.
3. Know the Rules: Some venues limit the number of tickets you can buy. A Radiohead fan recently reported purchasing a block of tickets to share with friends. When she ordered more tickets as a wedding gift, the venue threatened to cancel both orders because she was over the four-ticket max. Some events may also require the ticket purchaser to attend the show to pick up the tickets at the “will call” window. If you purchase tickets for such shows but don’t plan to attend, the gift recipient could be denied admittance to the event.
4. Use Reliable Sellers: Beware of fly-by-night ticket sellers. If you’re unsure whether a company is legitimate, check its ratings with the Better Business Bureau. If purchasing from a ticket broker, check to see if they are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, whose Code of Ethics requires members to adhere to basic consumer protections.
5. Check your ticket vendor’s guarantee policy: For example, websites like StubHub, TicketsNow, Ace Tickets, All-Shows and members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers guarantee every ticket sold on their sites and will replace them or provide refunds to consumers if they receive the wrong tickets, their tickets are invalid or an event is cancelled. Craigslist and other online classified sites do not offer such guarantees; it’s “buyer beware” when shopping there.
6. Pay Attention to URLs: When buying tickets directly from a venue, check the website’s URL to ensure that you don’t get duped by an imposter. For example, a Bruce Springsteen fan was tricked by a website he thought was for the Times Union Center in Albany, but was actually a resale site. Remember, even if a website looks like the official site, it may be bogus.
7. Buy with a Credit Card: Regardless of where you buy tickets, be sure to use a credit card so you can dispute any unfair or unauthorized charges. Before entering your credit card information online, be sure the site has “https://” at the beginning of the website address. This means the site is encrypted and safer for use.
8. Be prepared to pay additional fees: Unlike airline tickets, which are now required by law to disclose all taxes and additional fees upfront, the ticket price listed at the start of the purchasing process will likely not be your final price.