Don’t Get Misled By Online Ticket Resellers

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
December 6, 2017

Many sites that sell tickets are misleading. Many of these sites use URLs that are similar to legitimate sites and top search engine results with paid ads. In most—if not all—cases, the prices will be higher than standard ticket prices, and the seats you get may differ from what you expect and may even be counterfeit. It is always best to start with the official venue Web site—those that do not sell tickets directly will either link to an online service agency (such as Ticketmaster), or they may have a phone number to call for reservations.

I am not a fan of Ticketmaster because I believe that its fees (often as much as $10 per ticket plus a delivery fee) are quite high. But, in my experience, they do tell you what you will be charged and deliver genuine tickets. If you can pick up tickets at the venue box office, you will save money. If this is not practical, you may be able to order tickets by phone from the venue box office.

I don’t normally write about problems that are not health related. But a few months ago, my wife and I had a bad experience that caused me to investigate how resellers work. Having investigated the marketplace, I offer this advice:

  • If you are looking for tickets to an event and have no reason to think they are scarce, do not under any circumstances, do business with a reseller.
  • If you still want to deal with a reseller, make sure you understand that any displayed prices are likely to be higher than the original price.
  • If a Better Business Bureau report on the company exists, read the complaints.
  • If you have a bad experience with a reseller, be sure to complain to your credit card company, the Better Business Bureau, and the Ripoff Report. When my wife and I complained to our credit card company, it did not uphold our complaint by issuing a chargeback, but it gave us a “courtesy credit” for the amount requested.

In 2016, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a 44-page report on the use of automatic software (ticket bots) to quickly buy tickets to create an artificial scarcity that is used to support inflated prices. In 2017, Schneiderman announced settlements with six ticket brokers that had illegally purchased and resold hundreds of thousands of tickets in New York State since 2011, including on popular ticket resale platforms like StubHub and Vivid Seats. As part of their settlements, Prestige Entertainment paid $3,350,000, Concert Specials paid $480,000, Presidential Tickets paid $125,000, BMC Capital paid $95,000, Top Star Tickets paid $85,000, and Fanfetch paid $55,000.

Wikipedia has a comprehensive article on ticket resale.