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Tips for gifting tickets for the holidays

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December 5, 2011

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington,DC – Fan Freedom Project (FFP) and National Consumers League (NCL) today released a consumer guide for buying friends and family concert or sports tickets this holiday season. The “Gifting Tickets for the Holidays” guide will educate consumers on the often-confusing landscape of live event ticketing, and help them make better, more informed decisions.

“Tickets make great gifts this time of year, but consumers need to watch closely and make sure they know exactly what they are purchasing and from whom,” said FFP Consumer Advocate Elizabeth Owen.

John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at NCL added, “Too often consumers are confused and frustrated when they buy and share concert and sports tickets. This holiday guide will give them a chance to better understand the process and make the best choices possible.”

The Guide advises fans to:

1. 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 and on consumer review sites such as Yelp! 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.

2. Check guarantees: Check your ticket vendor’s guarantee policy. For example, Web sites like Stub Hub, TicketsNow, Ace Tickets and All-Shows 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 classifieds sites do not offer such guarantees; it’s “buyer beware” when shopping this way.

3. Pay attention to URLs: When buying tickets directly from a venue, check the Web site’s URL to ensure that you don’t get duped by an imposter. For example, Katy Perry fans were recently tricked by a Web site that sold tickets to a free concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Remember, even if a Web site looks like the official site, it may be bogus.

4. Read the fine print: Just because you bought the ticket doesn’t mean you can give it away. Some concerts and sporting events sell restricted tickets, like Ticketmaster Paperless Tickets (see below). These events require buyers to show up at the venue and present your purchasing credit card and photo ID to gain admittance. With these events, you often do not receive a physical ticket, or the ticket is worthless unless you have the matching credit card and photo ID. Ticketmaster recommends that you buy gift tickets with the recipient’s credit card and reimburse them. Some ticketing companies charge additional fees to transfer restricted tickets; others do not allow them to be transferred at all.

For a list of artists and sports teams that use restricted tickets, please visit the Fan Freedom Project’s FAQ.

Sample of paperless ticket disclaimer

 

5. 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. She ordered more tickets as a wedding gift, but found herself over the four-ticket max that the venue set for the show. She is now fighting with the ticket company and venue as they are threatening to cancel her tickets.

6. 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 Web site address. This means the site is encrypted and safer for use.

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About The Fan Freedom Project

Fan Freedom Project is an independent consumer education and advocacy organization that promotes and defends the rights and interests of live event fans. Launched in February 2011, FFP is supported by over 40,000 live event fans, and is backed by leading consumer and business organizations such as the National Consumers League, Consumer Action, the League of Fans, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and Net Choice. Initial funding was provided by Stub Hub, a division of eBay.

About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.