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Authorised sellers are just the ticket you’re after

Delia Rickard
9th October, 2017

If you search online for concert tickets there’s a good chance the first hits you get will be ticket resellers. But first in isn’t always best dressed, as ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard explains.

When you find a ticket to the once-in-a-lifetime show your first instinct might be to grab the credit card and hit ‘buy’. But it pays to think twice.

The ACCC is pursuing court action against a ticket reseller alleging it made false or misleading representations, and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct regarding the price of tickets on its online platform by failing to disclose substantial and unavoidable fees upfront in the ticket price. Most events included a 27.6 per cent booking fee and a handling fee. That means three Ashes 2017-18 tickets increased from $330.15 to $426.82 (29% increase) when the $91.71 booking fee and $4.95 handling fees were included.

When booking, you should be aware of ‘drip pricing’, which can substantially increase the price of the ticket.

A common tactic resellers also use is to prey on your ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) by claiming that tickets to certain events were scarce and likely to run out soon, without disclosing that “scarcity” referred to tickets on its website only.

The best way to ensure you get the ticket you’re paying for is to follow these handy hints from the ACCC.

Your rights when buying tickets

All your usual consumer rights apply when you purchase tickets online.

The business must not mislead you or hide costs and other details from you. The ticket must match the description provided on the website.

Buy your ticket from an authorised ticket seller

If you buy from an unauthorised seller (also called a ‘reseller’), you risk:

  • being turned away at the venue
  • not getting the seats you’ve ordered
  • not being made aware of certain conditions (for example, restricted view)
  • not getting a ticket, or getting a fake one.

Your rights to a refund or exchange may also be affected if the show is postponed or cancelled.

Don’t trust search results alone

Unauthorised sellers maintain a strong online presence – so check whether the first result has paid to be there (on Google they appear with a green ‘Ad’ box next to the result).

Who sells on reselling websites?

  • people buy tickets using bots and other mechanisms to get in first and buy up tickets from legitimate sellers
  • the ‘people’ then look to on-sell those tickets at a price that reflects demand
  • demand is high for some events and prices on reseller sites will often be higher than the original price and often with additional fees and charges
  • reports to consumer law regulators suggest that consumers purchasing tickets from resllers will often encounter problems with cancelled transactions arising from fraudulent sales or duplicate or cancelled tickets.

Paying for tickets

If you pay for tickets with a credit card, and you do not receive what you paid for, you can ask your bank or credit card provider for a chargeback.

Overseas sellers

Our view is that the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) applies when you buy tickets from an overseas online business. However, if a problem arises, you might find it difficult to get a replacement or refund from them because they are not based in Australia.

Tips for getting the best tickets

Sign up for alerts: Sign up to your favourite artists’ mailing lists and social media accounts, as well as mailing lists for venues, festivals, event promoters and authorised ticket sellers. This is how you can find out about upcoming events, pre-sale details and other important event information.

Be prepared: Create an online account with the authorised ticket seller and make sure you’re logged in so you are ready to go when tickets go on sale.

Be patient: For high demand shows you might be placed in an online queue, so be patient. If a ‘sold out’ message pops up, don’t panic – additional dates or seats may become available. Keep checking.

Check the ticket you’re buying: Check where your seats are and if there’s a restricted view, age restrictions or other special conditions. Authorised tickets sellers and resellers are required to provide buyers with clear and accurate information.

Tickets that sell out quickly: Although it can be disappointing when tickets sell out quickly, this situation is unlikely to breach the ACL if tickets were genuinely made available for sale. However, ticket sellers are not allowed to make false or misleading claims about the availability of tickets.

If there’s a problem

  1. If you don’t receive your tickets, contact the resale website. You may receive a refund under their terms and conditions.
  2. If you don’t have any luck with the ticket resale website and have purchased your tickets using a credit card, contact your bank and request a chargeback.
  3. If you have been scammed or had a problem with your purchase, report it to the police and/or consumer protection agency in your state or territory.

Delia Rickard
Deputy Chair
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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