ADVICE ON BUYING TICKETS
A website selling tickets – especially one that miraculously seems to have the tickets you haven’t been able to find anywhere else – may look great. It’s very easy to create a website that looks classy and reputable – but that doesn’t mean it’s law-abiding or will definitely supply you with what you think you are buying. Use this checklist to help you make a decision whether or not you want to purchase from the website.
EARLY WARNING SIGNALS
You find a website that is offering tickets for an event that seems to be sold out everywhere else. Take time to thoroughly check out the website offering the tickets (see “Who am I buying from?” below).
The website is offering tickets that have not yet gone on sale through official channels – ie the companies listed in the promoter’s or venue’s advertisements for the event.
The website is selling tickets for football matches in the UK. In the UK, the resale of football tickets is illegal under section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 unless the resale is authorised by the organiser of the match. If a website is undertaking illegal activity, it is probably best to avoid them altogether.
WHO AM I BUYING FROM?
Beware of fraud
Action Fraud warn that you may find a website advertised via email or social media offering you the chance to buy tickets to a popular event.
Fraudsters create their own bogus ticket retail companies; their websites are easy to make and look genuine. Some even use a name or website address very similar to a legitimate ticket sales website.
This is a form of “phishing“; fraudsters take advantage of the huge demand for the most popular events. The tickets they’re advertising have either already sold out, or haven’t officially gone on sale yet, but their website claims to have tickets available. In some instances the event they’re promoting doesn’t even exist.
You pay for the tickets, but they aren’t delivered. In some cases you may be told that a customer representative will meet you at the venue on the day to give you your ticket, but nobody turns up. You may even get the tickets in the post or print off an e-ticket, but when you arrive at the event, the organisers tell you the tickets are fake.
When you try to call the company you bought the tickets from, your calls aren’t answered or you’re told the company doesn’t provide refunds.
If you’re buying football tickets, it’s illegal for anyone to re-sell them in most instances.
Is the company a member of STAR?
Buying from a STAR member ensures you have an independent means of redress through a recognised self-regulatory body should anything go wrong. You can cross-check the list of STAR members on this website or ask the STAR helpline on +441904 234737. If the company IS a member, then you can proceed with your purchase with confidence.
What is the name of the company?
Many fly-by-night websites try to lure you in by using familiar names in their website addresses or by trying to assure you of their validity by sounding ‘official’. It can sometimes be very difficult to tell on first looking at a web address or company name whether or not you should trust them, so always look deeper unless it is a name you already recognise and trust.
One way to check can be to look at the website of the event or venue itself to see if it has information about agents they have authorised to sell tickets; music festivals sometimes also post information about websites that they think may be causing problems.
Is there a physical office address for the company listed on the website and, if so, where is it?
If the address isn’t obvious – on the home, contact or booking pages, for instance – or is hidden away in the Terms and Conditions or missing altogether, then you might want to look for tickets elsewhere.
Is it only possible to contact the company online?
If the only way of contacting them is through email or an online contact form then they are already making things difficult for you. No postal address or phone number? Probably best to stop now!
Where is the company based?
Don’t assume because a website has a “.uk” address that it is based in the UK.
Is the company registered in the UK?
Read the company’s Terms and Conditions; if sales are made under non-UK law, you may not have the same consumer protection as you would with a UK-registered company.
WHAT AM I BUYING
Check the description of what you are being offered. Look for:
- The date(s) and time of the event
- The venue or location that the ticket will provide entry to
- Any description of seating or other arrangements, where relevant
- Clear pricing information
Any reputable seller will provide this information as a matter of course and in the UK you have a right to it within the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
What is the total price the seller is asking you to pay?
Prices can vary between ticket sellers – and don’t forget to allow for any postage and packing charges when comparing the total cost. Some tickets are sent by secure or recorded delivery, which can increase the price of sending the tickets to you. It is usually possible to buy full-price tickets without any booking fee if you buy in person at the venue box office.
Is there any indication of anything that might affect your enjoyment of the event, such as a restricted view?
You should be made aware of such things before you agree to purchase the ticket. Reputable ticket sellers will tell you if they have been made aware by the event organiser of anything that will affect your enjoyment and the ticket price may have been discounted to reflect that. Sometimes problems can’t be anticipated and aren’t known until an event takes place. If this happens, you should make venue staff aware of your problem on the night – they may be able to reseat you.
Have you shopped around? Are tickets available elsewhere at a lower price?
Don’t forget to follow the same checks for any website!
THINGS TO CHECK FOR
What happens if the event is cancelled or rescheduled?
STAR members will ensure that you are either offered tickets for a rescheduled performance or that you receive a refund of at least the event price if the event organiser authorises them to make refunds. You may not be able to reclaim postage costs if the tickets have already been sent to you.
What happens if you can’t attend the performance for which you’ve booked tickets?
It is usual for ticket sellers NOT to be able to offer you the opportunity to exchange or cancel your booking – check the terms and conditions of sale. However, for events where there is more than one performance (for instance, shows in the West End) it is worthwhile asking, as some sellers may be able to help by exchanging your tickets for another performance or, particularly for high-selling shows, offering them for resale.
Some ticket sellers offer insurance when they sell you a ticket. This gives you additional protection if circumstances prevent you attending, a bit like holiday insurance. Don’t forget also to insure other risks such as travel and accommodation that are essential to you attending an event, if they aren’t purchased as a package together with your ticket.
Are there any special terms and conditions?
Some organisers and venues require that ticket holders provide identification (ID) when attending an event. The lead booker’s name may be printed on the tickets and will be expected to attend and provide ID, sometimes something that includes a photograph such as a driving licence or a passport. Make sure you know what’s required.
What should I look for if I am buying from an Online Resale Marketplace?
Make sure it is a reputable company and that they offer a reliable guarantee that ensures you get replacement tickets or a full refund if there is a problem providing your tickets.
Check that the website has a secure way of paying (known as an encryption facility) – you should see a padlock symbol on the screen when you are filling in the payment details and the web address at the top of the page should change to one beginning “https://” (the “s” stands for secure).
A reputable ticket seller will never require you to pay by bank transfer for your tickets.
If the total amount you are paying is over £100, then consider paying by credit card (rather than debit card) as credit cards can offer a better level of financial protection if things go wrong. The relevant regulation here is Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This regulation, however, may not provide the same level of protection when buying from a ticket agent as it does when buying direct from an event organiser or venue.
Check when your tickets are due to arrive or if they are print at home or e-tickets.
Sometimes, event organisers don’t allow tickets to be sent out until very close to the event date, to help reduce problems with counterfeiting of tickets or other ticket fraud. This can be a worrying delay for some customers. A reputable seller will, however, always ensure that you gain entry to the event for which you have purchased tickets.
Problems can occasionally arise for general admission events (non-seated events) when tickets don’t reach the purchaser or if you lose them or destroy them accidentally. Licensing and health and safety considerations can mean that these tickets cannot always be duplicated and you may not gain access to the event.
Some major ticket sellers offer regularly updated information on their website help pages to indicate when tickets will be despatched. If you have bought tickets for someone else and duplicates have to be provided at the venue, you may have to arrange for a letter of authority if you are not able to collect the tickets yourself.
IF THINGS GO WRONG
We very much hope that this information has helped you to secure tickets for the event of your choice and that you’ll just be able to sit back and enjoy the show. However, if there is a problem with your purchase from a STAR Member, then click here to find out how to raise a dispute.
If you have not bought from a STAR Member and would like to report a possible fraud then you should do this at actionfraud.police.uk