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Buying tickets online can sometimes be almost a traumatic experience – ask anyone who has ever tried to get their hands on the now almost mythical Glastonbury ticket (many a tear has been shed and devices endangered!). With so much in the news lately about the resale of tickets and touting, we thought it would be the right time to provide some tips about buying tickets online and your rights.

buying tickets online

Just the ticket, if you can get it! Resale of tickets online and tips to help you keep the faith

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 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 the ultimate kick in the teeth – just minutes after going on general sale you see tickets on secondary ticket selling sites for double, triple, sometimes even quadruple the cost. This is a scenario which many consumers are very familiar with, and fed up about it.

What is ticket touting and is it legal?

Ticket touting is the act of reselling tickets through unauthorised channels, typically for more than face value. The act of reselling tickets, even at significantly higher price than face value, is not illegal in most countries, including Ireland (for now that is). However, some event organisers may place restrictions to prevent this practice and some third party auction websites have also attempted to prevent the selling of tickets far above the face value.

The sports and entertainment industry for a long time has struggled to restrict ticket touts’ ability to snap up large quantities of tickets and resell them for overly inflated prices. In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of so-called bedroom touts who engage in bulk buying, typically using ‘bots’ that automatically sweep up large number of tickets when they go on sale. It’s big business which unfortunately leads to consumers being the losers when trying to buy hard-to-get tickets.

Common problems consumers face when buying tickets online

Overpriced tickets is not the only problem consumers face. Here’s a list of the most common scenarios:

  • Non-delivery of the ticket – 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. When the ticket doesn’t show up there is also the added expenses of paying for the trip and accommodation as well as the inconvenience, particularly if it’s for a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary.
  • 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 tickets – In the UK alone, according to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, £3.35 million was lost to ticket fraud in 2014, yet this figure would underestimate the scale of the problem as it is based on reported incidents only.
  • Tickets for non-existing events or forged tickets.
  • Duplicated tickets – A consumer could turn up to the event only to find someone else sitting in their seat or they could be denied access.
  • 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.
  • Corporate hospitality services (business to business transactions) and private sellers (consumer to consumer transactions) do not fall under consumer legislation.
  • The company has gone in to liquidation or the website is suspended by the time the consumer expects delivery of the tickets. Most sellers of ‘sold-out’ tickets have terms and conditions which state that tickets will arrive just before the event, but if this doesn’t happen, the seller may be long gone by then.
  • No cooperation if something goes wrong.
  • If the event is cancelled or postponed you may have problems getting a refund. In some cases, the original buyer of the ticket may have bought it by credit card and it is their card to which the refund will be made.

concert tickets


Tips for buying tickets online

If you’re buying tickets online, there’s a few things to keep in mind. Here are some tips:

  • If you order tickets online the seller must provide you with a confirmation of your order in a written format (for example, email).
  • Before buying the ticket the total cost should be clear. This should include information on booking fees, credit card fees, or a delivery fee (if applicable).
  • You should also be given information that includes the seller’s identity and address if you have to pay for the tickets, arrangements for payment and delivery, and whether there is a right to cancel.
  • Remember there is no cooling-off period for online contracts that apply to a specific date or period of performance so this would include concert tickets or tickets for sporting events.
  • Always check the terms and conditions paying particular attention to what to do if things go wrong, how to cancel and what the process is, under what circumstances is a refund possible (if any) and how to request this, what happens if the event is cancelled or postponed, as well as looking out for further details about the trader.
  • If you also need to make travel and accommodation arrangements it is important not to rush this purchase and check the terms and conditions. You should pay particular attention to payment arrangements – is it pre-payment or can you pay at the property? There are often options given for free cancellation or flexibility with dates, however, it is important to check the period of time during which you can avail of this. Knowing what to do will be vital if the event is cancelled or postponed and hopefully you won’t be hit twice.

If the ticket you want is being offered by an unauthorised source or unfamiliar website then it’s important to do your homework. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do not assume that a website is based in the country indicated by the domain ending, for example, just because it ends in doesn’t necessarily mean that the trader is based in the UK.
  • Check the trader’s address to make sure there is one and there’s not just a ‘contact us’ form, a PO Box, or a virtual office. You can also check the terms and conditions for more information about the trader.
  • Look for other customers’ reviews on the internet. If enough consumers have had a bad experience then they’ll more than likely talk about, 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, as these can offer redress options such as chargeback in cases of non-delivery or tickets not as described – however, this is assessed on a case-by-case basis.


Competition and consumer protection commission

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