National Consumers League

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NCL Personal Finance Issues

Ticketing gift guide for dads and grads

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Package with Tickets are a popular gift as Father’s Day, graduations, and summer concert series fill the calendar. However, many consumers may be unaware that restrictions - and scams - could make giving tickets as gifts a big headache. To help prepare consumers, NCL and the Fan Freedom Project have teamed up to warn consumers about the most common online ticket-buying risks.

“Too often consumers meet with unpleasant surprises – from scams to restrictions – when they try to buy or give away event tickets. The last thing we want to happen is someone buying a thoughtful present for Father’s Day or a new grad only to find out they ended up with fraudulent tickets, or tickets that can’t be given as gifts, such as non-transferable paperless tickets," said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at NCL.

Tips for buying tickets as gifts

  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. 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 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 there.
  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, a Bruce Springsteen fan was recently tricked by a Web site he thought was for the Times Union Center in Albany, but was actually a resale site. Remember, even if a Web site looks like the official site, it may be bogus.
  4. Read the fine print: Just because you bought a ticket doesn’t mean you can give it away. Some concerts and sporting events sell restricted paperless tickets, requiring the buyer to show up at the venue and present the purchasing credit card and photo ID. With such tickets, the buyer does not receive a physical ticket and cannot easily transfer these tickets. When buying paperless tickets as a gift, Ticketmaster recommends that you pay with the recipient’s credit card and reimburse them.For a list of artists and sports teams that use restricted tickets, visit Fan Freedom Project's FAQ
    Graphic identifying restrictions on paperless tickets
  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. When she ordered more tickets as a wedding gift, the venue threatened to cancel both orders because she was over the four-ticket max. Some events may also require the ticket purchaser to attend the show to pick up their tickets at the “will call” window. If you purchase tickets for such shows but don’t plan to attend, the gift recipient could be denied admittance to the event.
  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.
  7. Be prepared to pay additional fees: Unlike airline tickets, which are now required by law to disclose all taxes and additional fees upfront, the ticket price listed at the start of the purchasing process will likely not be your final price.