Summer brings many options for enjoying live entertainment. Whether it's singing along with your favorite band at an outdoor music festival or witnessing home run kings hit fastballs out of the park, tickets to highly anticipated events are often in hot demand and can sell out quickly.
The secondary market for sporting and entertainment tickets is estimated at about $15 billion a year, according to Sport Marketing Quarterly. This estimate includes tickets bought and sold by professional brokers as well as those purchased and resold by speculators and season ticket holders. Tickets purchased for sports and entertainment events are the source of hundreds of Better Business Bureau complaints by consumers nationwide.
Buying through an unofficial site can be dicey. Scammers often advertise sought-after tickets through social media, online auctions, classified sites or on the street. Unlike established venues and authorized resellers, these sellers may not offer a guarantee that the tickets are genuine and that your sensitive information is safe.
Be wary if there are inducements beyond the ticket itself, such as all-you-can-eat refreshments, hotel rooms or privileged parking. In some cases, the event may not even exist: it's been fabricated to induce people to buy worthless passes.
BBB's database of BBB Business Profiles includes secondary market ticket firms that provide buyer protections, including money-back guarantees if tickets are fake. On some sites, sellers also must provide credit-card numbers so the site can charge a seller's card for the cost of replacement tickets if they sell fake tickets.
BBB advises anyone looking for entertainment tickets to follow these tips:
Do your research. Search online for the name of the event. Make sure the name on a ticket offer matches the name advertised on the festival's official website. Go to midmobbb.org and look up the festival organizer to see whether there are complaints or a BBB rating from A+ to F.
Keep any receipts, and use a credit card in case you need to challenge the charge. On the payment page, make sure the address begins with https:// or that the pay displays a closed lock to indicate the site is secure.
Avoid buying tickets at free classified advertising websites or from people on the street outside the event.
Resist pressure to buy on the spot, especially if the deal seems too good to be true. That is often the sign of a scam.
Before buying from an online ticket broker, look for BBB's Accredited Business seal on the website and click on it to make sure it is real. BBB's dynamic seal will take you directly to a company's BBB Business Profile, where you can read about the company's record for responding to complaints.
If you buy tickets through an online auction site, choose a seller with a long history of satisfied customers. Scammers can hijack old accounts, so make sure the seller has recently sold other tickets.
Ticket buyers also should be wary of sellers who try to lure buyers from a legitimate site to another site for a "private" transaction. Scammers often want to conduct their business on sites with names that mimic well-known companies but actually are fakes.
If you are buying tickets through an online classified ad site, never pay the seller by wire transfer. You will have no way to get your money back if the tickets do not arrive or are counterfeit.
Sean Spence is the Mid-Missouri regional director for Better Business Bureau.