Buying tickets for concerts and events, particularly online, can sometimes be almost a traumatic experience – ask anyone who has ever tried to get their hands on a Glastonbury ticket… With so much in the news about the resale of tickets and ticket touting, we put together some tips about buying tickets online and your consumer rights.
Just the ticket! If you can get it …
We’ve all been there. You get up at an ungodly hour, groggily set up your laptop, a tablet, or whatever device you can find and sit waiting, with a credit card and fairy dust in hand, waiting and waiting. Then the ticket seller website finally opens the flood gates and thousands of fans commence battle to get their hands on those golden tickets. Then, those horrible words appear – ‘sold out’ or ‘not available. You wonder how can this possibly be, in less than 10 minutes? Then, just minutes after going on general sale you see tickets on secondary resale sites for double, triple, sometimes even quadruple the cost.
Ticket touting is the act of reselling tickets through unauthorised channels, typically for more than their original value. Reselling tickets, even at a significantly higher price, is not illegal in most countries. However, some event organisers may place restrictions to prevent reselling or selling tickets on auction websites. The sports and entertainment industries, for instance, has long struggled to restrict ticket touts’ ability to snap up large quantities of tickets and resell them for profit – it is big business that unfortunately prevents individual consumers to purchase hard-to-get tickets.
Tickets purchased as part of corporate hospitality services (business-to-business transactions) or from private sellers (consumer-to-consumer transactions) do not fall under consumer legislation and consumer rights organisations such as ECC Ireland and CCPC Ireland cannot help.
Problems with tickets
Scams and changing terms are also proliferating as the events industry grows ever bigger and the majority of tickets are sold online, through third-party or reselling websites. These are some unfortunate scenarios documented in the press.
- Non-delivery or delayed delivery – this is a particular problem when the consumer has purchased the ticket last minute and has arranged for delivery to the hotel or even the ticket office at the venue. There may be a delay in receiving the ticket you ordered, and then, close to the event, you’re told that the tickets you ordered are no longer available, but there are other tickets at a higher price.
- Wrong tickets – the ticket states a different event or category. If you buy the ticket from an individual seller or unauthorised source they may be hard to trace if it turns out to be not what you ordered.
- Invalid or fake/forged tickets or tickets for non-existing events – essentially, fraud
- Duplicated tickets – one turns up to the event only to find someone else sitting in their seat or they are denied access into the event.
- Tickets for certain major events are personalised (for example, name and security code) so if you buy from unofficial sources you run the risk of being denied entry.
- The company has gone into liquidation or the website is suspended by the time the consumer expects physical delivery of the tickets.
- If the event is cancelled or postponed and you have problems getting a refund.
- Restrictions placed on resold tickets – In a bid to tackle ticket touting and the selling of over-priced tickets, some artists, promotors and organisations are placing quite a lot of restrictions on events tickets recently. Some of these include a requirement to present the purchasing credit card and ID to reflect the family name on the ticket.
For example, in the run-up to the massively popular Ed Sheeran Irish tour, organisers Aiken Promotions published a statement which included the following:
So, if you’ve bought your ticket from an unauthorised re-seller, and you’ve made no arrangements to comply with these restrictions, then you could be left out in the cold.
You should also bear in mind that when you buy from an individual, as opposed to a business, consumer rights do not apply.
Other restrictions can relate to the actual site that you bought that ticket from, even if it’s a legitimate secondary reselling site.
Tips for buying events tickets online
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- If you order tickets online, the seller must provide you with a confirmation of your order in a written/durable format (for example, e-mail, pdf attachment).
- Before buying the ticket, the total payable cost should be clear. This should include: booking fees, credit card fees, a delivery fee (if applicable).
- Remember: there is no cooling-off period for online contracts that apply to a specific date or period of performance, i.e. concert tickets or tickets for sporting events.
- If you also need to make travel and accommodation arrangements in order to get to the event, it is important not to rush this purchase and check the terms and conditions and have a safety net if the event is cancelled, and therefore, you need to cancel the entire trip.
- Like any other online transaction, check: the seller’s identity and address (not just a ‘contact us’ form, a PO box or a virtual office), delivery terms, cancellation policy and refund terms in case of event cancellation.
- Do not assume that a website is based in the country indicated by the domain ending, for example, just because it ends in .co.uk. doesn’t necessarily mean that the trader is based in the UK. See more information on third-party booking websites here.
- Look for other customers’ reviews on the internet. If enough consumers have had a bad experience then they’ll more than likely talk about it to warn other people; however, bear in mind that the opposite can also be true – many traders pay for fake positive reviews.
- Don’t be fooled by the prominent search engine ranking. Web-based fraudsters may pay for search advertising so their sites appear at the top of search results.
- Use a secure payment method such as credit card or other payment services like PayPal as much as possible – these can offer redress options such as chargeback in cases of non-delivery or tickets not as described.