Rod Davis, CEO Better Business Bureau serving Southeast FL and the Caribbean
OutClique does a great job letting us know about events, performances and concerts in our area. While you may want to hear Boy George sing The Crying Game, you don’t want to be left outside crying because you missed the concert and paid $400 for bogus tickets.
Thanks to the internet, there are countless ways for consumers to find tickets and connect with online marketplaces, ticket sellers, and resellers. Unfortunately, some of them are rip-offs and it’s not always clear how to tell if a ticket is fake. Last year, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) received over 300 reports on BBB Scam Tracker about ticket scams related to sporting events, concerts, theatre, and more. A report filed by a consumer on June 11, 2018, said that he bought tickets on Facebook and two days before the event was to be held, it was cancelled and despite repeated efforts, he was not able to get a refund for his $70.
Buying from unknown or fly by night organizations or entities increases the risk for fraud.
The safest approach is to buy directly from the venue whenever possible. Direct purchase from a venue that has been in business for years and has a track record for good service increases the likelihood you will not encounter problems attending the event. Venues usually offer several options to obtain tickets (e.g. print at home, pick up at will call, or mailed to you). Whichever option you choose, make sure to provide enough time to obtain the tickets if being mailed to you or to pick up at the venue prior to the start of the performance/event.
Many events now use secondary sales options, as well. Consider your source. Know the difference between a professional ticket broker (a legitimate and accredited reseller), a ticket scalper (an unregulated and unlicensed ticket seller), and a scammer selling scam tickets.
Check out the seller or broker. Look them up on www.bbb.org to learn what other customers have experienced and look for the seal of a BBB Accredited Business. Check to see if they are a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. NATB members offer a 200% purchase guarantee on tickets. Look up the seller on www.VerifiedTicketSource.com to confirm you are buying from an NATB-member resale company. The 200% guarantee applies to the ticket so if you are traveling or buying add ons to the event, those expenses may not be covered. Most ticket sellers will provide detailed instructions for obtaining and using the tickets. Make sure you follow the instructions and contact the business immediately if any problems arise so you will have time to overcome any problems before the concert or event.
Buy only from trusted vendors. Buy online only from vendors you know and trust. Look for the lock symbol in the web address to indicate a secure purchasing system. Don’t click from emails or online ads; a common ticket scam trick is to create a web address that is similar to a well-known company. Double check web addresses and be careful about clicking on ads that may have the name of a known venue imbedded in the ad, using a similar, but not the authentic web address.
Know the refund policy for any purchase. You should only purchase tickets from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction. Sellers should disclose to the purchaser, prior to purchase, the location of the seats represented by the tickets, either orally or by reference to a seating chart; and, if the tickets are not available for immediate access to the purchaser, disclose when the tickets will ship or be available for pick up. Ask about the policy to exchange tickets to another person if something comes up and you are not able to attend. BBB received a complaint from a consumer who had purchased tickets and had a medical situation come up the day before the concert. The consumer tried to give the tickets to a friend, but unfortunately, they were not admitted to attend since they had not been cleared for the event. The policy was included in the terms of the agreement, but the consumer was unable to use the tickets or obtain a refund. The policy terms required 48 hour notice to update names if changes were to be made for the event. While these situations are rare, if you know the policy terms you can keep this situation from happening to you.
Use payment methods that come with protection. Always use a credit card so you have some recourse if the tickets are not as promised. Debit cards, wire transfer or cash transactions are risky; if the tickets are fraudulent, you won’t be able to get your money back. There is a good reason not to leave home without your American Express Card.
Be wary of advertisements. When you search the web for online tickets, advertisements for cheap tickets will often appear. Use good judgment. Some of these ads are going to be ticket scams, especially if the prices are low, or they are still offering cheap tickets for an event that is sold out or in high demand.
If you’re unsure, verify your tickets. Pay a visit to the venue where the event will be held. Present your ticket to “Will Call” (customer service) and they can verify if your ticket is legitimate and show you how to tell if a ticket is fake.
Recent news provides a good lesson to all of us. Graduates of Whittier’s La Serna High School paid thousands of dollars to Senior Grad Trips (aka EB WorldWide LLC) only to find out they had no airline tickets or hotel reservations. The business has an F rating with BBB for 14 unresolved complaints. While the FBI is currently investigating this situation, it serves as a reminder to buy from trusted sources and check out the business on www.BBB.org and other sites before you purchase.