Protect yourself from rogue ticket sellers

22 July 2009

A crackdown on fraudster ticket touts has been announced, with more protection offered to people who have been mis-sold tickets to concerts, theatres and other events.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), which represents outlets selling tickets to the public and agents, will introduce new terms and conditions of tickets that aim to be clearer and fairer to consumers.

The small print on tickets sold by STAR members will now include full details of what will happen should the event be cancelled or rescheduled, as well as information on where ticket-holders can seek redress should things go wrong.

Tickets will also stipulate whether the ticket can be re-sold, through eBay for example. The move follows confusion for Michael Jackson fans after the musician died unexpectedly, just one month before his UK comeback tour was due to kick-off.

Mike Haley, director of consumer protection at the OFT, says: “There is a need for consumers to have recourse to fair and clear terms and conditions in the rare occurrence that an event is cancelled or should any unfortunate or unforeseen problems arise.”

Members of STAR, including and Ticketmaster, will phase in the new terms and conditions over the next year.  A pre-existing code of conduct also stipulates that vendors should clearly identify the face value of any tickets and highlight any cancellation or transferability restrictions in the terms and conditions.

Members of the scheme will display a STAR logo.

The new rules, which will not cover any unregulated websites selling tickets, or auction websites such as eBay, were developed after an investigation by the OFT found some sellers were offering terms that might be considered unfair.

Jonathan Brown, secretary of STAR, says complaints about online ticket scams and street touts continue to “flood in”.

“We need to improve consumer awareness of what to look for when buying tickets, so people can avoid paying inflated prices or risk losing everything if something goes wrong,” he adds.

How to protect yourself from rogue ticket sellers

* Where possible, only buy tickets from a venue’s box office or its primary ticket agent, which has official permission to sell tickets for certain events. You could also buy from vendors that are members of the STAR scheme.

* Ask for the face value of the tickets – this should be the same as the value printed on the ticket. You should also make sure you know if there are any additional costs, such as booking fees, or charges for postage. STAR says these fees should not amount to more than 25% of the value of the ticket.

* Before you buy, find out exactly where the seat is and whether it has a full or restricted view. If necessary, ask to see a seating plan.

* Check the terms and conditions carefully. Keep an eye open for any cancellation restrictions, and what will happen should the event be cancelled or rescheduled.

* You should also find out what your rights are if your tickets fail to arrive on time.

* If you have to buy a ticket from a secondary agent (these purchases tickets and re-sell them to consumers) then you should still follow the advice given above. You should also shop around to make sure you aren’t paying over the odds.

* Keep an eye open for fraudulent websites – the payment pages should display a padlock symbol and begin with https if it is secure. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

* Buying tickets through online auctions (such as eBay) and ticket touts carries a risk, and there is no protection against fraud or cancellation.

* Use a credit card for ticket purchases of more than £100 in order to receive protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

Source: Consumer Direct

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