Be 'Ticket Aware' - How to buy tickets safely

Buying tickets can be hazardous - fans are being caught out by numerous ticket scams, the authorities are currently doing little to protect victims but they are looking into it, so until things change we all need to be ticket aware.

There are so many credible-looking websites set up for the express purpose of making a lot of money for their owner that we only ever advise our readers to purchase from primary ticket sites. These are all listed on our 'Green List'

Quick guide - what to look out for and warning signs

  1. Are you buying from a primary ticket site - an authorised ticket agent?
  2. Check on the festival/band/event or venue website - are there tickets on sale there and who are their authorised agents?
  3. Have they got good contact details on the site with a UK address and phone number?
  4. Are they UK VAT registered?
  5. Are the tickets actually on sale?
  6. Are they offering tickets to sold out events?
  7. Check where and who the website is registered to
  8. Is the face value of the ticket displayed prominently?
  9. What is the companies policy on refunds?
  10. It is illegal to re-sell tickets to football matches

We advise that you never buy from an unauthorised ticket outlet.

Secondary ticket sellers are rife out there, not all are scams but all are in it to make as much money as they can squeeze out of you, one thing most have in common is that they will generally charge you way over face value, this is always a warning sign that you're using a secondary ticket outlet. We never advise that you buy from an unauthorised ticket outlet.

A huge problem for ticket buyers is the length of time it takes for scam sites to come to attention, this gap helps provide huge sums of money to the fraudsters comfortably and with little risk; it can take months for them to come to light which gives them time to disappear. The sites are closed and the fraudsters have got away with your money, a ticket scam isn't officially recognised as a ticket scam until you've been scammed over tickets,  missed your gig and lost your money.  Of course you can get your money back if you’ve paid by credit card but ultimately who picks up the bill for these refunds?

If a ticket site is charging over the face value that's a warning sign...

Dodgy ticket sites are designed to work over the long term; because of this the impact often isn’t clear for a long time. It's a clever, insidious, long and slow means of defrauding the public; it often works well netting millions in revenue for the fraudsters.

Initially, in order to gain trust the site may well deliver the tickets it sells, this is an effective way to build confidence but this phase doesn't last and after a few months things change as fewer tickets are delivered, however, don't be fooled, the final stage is set and after a few months no tickets will be delivered.

The ability to do this is helped by the fact that with so many gigs selling tickets well in advance of the gig, not sending out tickets until just before the gig and few offering a proper refund system the potential for scams is virtually endless.

Until the authorities recognise, acknowledge and act on the scandal that many prefer to keep hidden, it's up to all of us to be 'ticket aware' and put in place a few checks and balances that can help minimise the chances of joining the ever growing throng of ticket buyers who have lost out to these scams.

Once again we must re-state that we only recommend buying from primary ticket outlets, not all secondary sites are scams by any means but the secondary market is where the scammers are able to hide so effectively.
If you do decide that you want to purchase from the secondary market this is what you need to look out for:

  • Look for sites that have a full limited company name that you can look up on Companies House
  • Make sure there is a VAT number on the site.
  • Don't bother with sites where the "contact us" button takes you to an online email form.
  • Avoid like the plague sites that are based abroad. You will find difficulties reclaiming your money or getting a refund if they don't provide your tickets and reporting it to the authorities will be even more difficult as they use it as an excuse to wash their hands of it.
  • Go to the website and type in the website name in the bar. Hit enter and it will tell you where and who the website name is registered to. Just scroll down to the part where it says "registrant". If it’s overseas, a PO Box address or anonymous, don't buy from it.
  • Don't buy from eBay or Gumtree unless you like gambling and are happy to accept that you might not get your tickets or a refund. There is very little protection here and a number of scams have been successfully run via these sites.
  • Always pay by credit card, never by your debit card. If the transaction is over £100 and you don't receive your tickets, you have a right to claim a refund from your credit card issuer under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Debit cards have no such protection. If you pay by debit card and run into trouble you will have the devils own job of getting your money back, if at all
  • Read the websites terms and conditions, if it says it’s not in anyway affiliated to or an official outlet, steer clear of it. Only buy from authorised sources
  • Even if a show is sold out initially, keep checking back with the authorised sellers. Almost every show has more tickets released either nearer to the date or on the day of the gig. Don't give up!
  • Check on the band/festival/artists website – who are they using as legitimate sellers?
  • Companies are required by law to show the face value. If it does not or shows the sale value well above the original value then it is not a valid agent.
  • Do not arrange to meet someone outside a venue to get your ticket; this is not the way that legitimate ticket agents do business.

Do be aware that authorised agents will always make available the ticket Terms and Conditions applicable to the sale and make the transaction as transparent as possible. This protects both the buyer and the agent and offers the customer legal protection. You will not be afforded the same protection if you buy from an unauthorised site.

Companies are required by law to show the face value. If it does not or shows the sale value well above the original value then it is not a valid agent.

If you see tickets advertised anywhere other than official outlets there is a strong chance of getting ripped off in one way or another. Tickets are actually nontransferable,which means that once purchased you can’t sell them on to others, if you do buy from an unauthorised source you stand a chance of being refused entry as the seller must have obtained them elsewhere. Many of the big festivals have ticket operations in place at the site, this means that if you are caught with a fake ticket you won't get into the festival, you may have paid a lot of money for your ticket, travel, accommodation but you will not get in if your ticket is found to be fake.

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Ticket Safe
4th July 2009
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Be 'Ticket Aware'  - How to buy tickets safely
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