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Is it safe to buy from ticket resale sites?

You might consider resale sites if you can’t get the tickets you want directly from the venue. But this can be extremely risky – you need to be careful to ensure you’re not ripped off. Here is what you need to know.
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We’ve all been there. You’re desperate to get gig tickets, but the whole concert is sold out within minutes of them going on sale. Worse, you’re stuck in digital queues for hours, and you still don’t get your hands on the tickets you want.

Tickets for the biggest concerts and sporting events usually sell out quickly. This means:

  • You need to find another source, such as dedicated ticket resale websites or direct fan-to-fan transactions if you want to attend

  • You can get your money back if you bought tickets that you can no longer use

Here is how to navigate the agents, touts, and resale routes whether you are buying or selling. It’s important to understand the rules to make sure you aren’t scammed.

It depends on the kind of tickets.

The resale of football tickets is illegal under anti-hooliganism laws unless they are sold through the club’s authorised service. This service is often provided through a partner like Viagogo or StubHub.

There are currently no laws governing the resale of tickets for other sports or concerts, gigs and theatrical shows. The government has refused to amend this but has stated it may introduce legislation for the resale of tickets to “events of national importance”.

But different associations may have their own rules in terms of what they allow. For instance, some events’ terms and conditions now explicitly state that tickets cannot be resold. Organisers can cancel any tickets that they find being sold on by touts. This means if you go down this route, you might find that your ticket isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and won’t get you into the event for which you’ve paid.

Can you trust official ticket websites?

Your best bet to get tickets at face value will be through an official outlet rather than an unofficial seller.

Official ticket agencies such as Seetickets.com, Ticketmaster, 365Tickets and Ticketline.co.uk are authorised by the venue to sell tickets directly to consumers, so you can be confident they are genuine.

If you book while there are still direct tickets available, you are likely to pay the same price as you would if you bought directly from the venue itself. Booking and postage fees are likely to be added, too, so you need to compare the added costs to get the best deal.

What about ticket resale websites?

Ticket resale sites such as ViagogoSeatwave and others provide a marketplace for fans to buy and sell concert tickets.

Tickets bought from the industry’s bigger names are likely to be genuine, and some offer consumer protection and guaranteed sales. However, you are also likely to pay a hefty premium.

Tickets are regularly sold at a marked-up price, especially if the event is sold out, and you will also be hit with costly booking fees. This means you will need to decide how much you are willing to pay in total before you start searching.

Ticket resale sites such as Scarlet Mist offer a face-value ticket exchange, so they are worth looking at, although you have even fewer reassurances about the legitimacy of tickets.

In a nutshell, you may be able to get a ticket through unofficial resale sites if you cannot find one elsewhere. However, they will often be far more expensive and riskier. If an event has banned resale, you may find that you’re not allowed in even if your ticket is legitimate.

What support do these companies offer?

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has ordered four of the largest ticket selling platforms in the UK to offer a more transparent ticket selection process.

StubHubViagogoSeatwave and GET ME IN!  now provide the following information:

  • Any restriction on the view or entry at your chosen event

  • If multiple seats bought are all together or separated

  • If there are any additional costs associated with buying your chosen ticket

  • How much the price differs compared to the original face value

  • Contact details for consumers should something go wrong with the transaction

The CMA continues to approach all other major ticket resellers to force them to fulfil their obligations under UK consumer law.

Competition and Markets Authority: Ticket buyers benefit from CMA action

Should you ever buy direct from another fan?

Peer-to-peer ticket sales are potentially tricky ground, with no guarantees about the ticket’s authenticity or the seller’s.

Prices can also skyrocket, with sales typically advertised informally via internet forums and sites like eBay.

Arranging to collect tickets in person can also be risky because it usually involves taking cash with you to meet someone you do not know.

How can you protect your ticket purchase?

Unofficial ticket agencies have sold tickets that don’t exist in the past, and there will be few guarantees that the tickets you receive are genuine unless you can confirm the serial number.

If you are unsure whether an online ticket seller is trustworthy, check if they are registered with the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (although not all official outlets are). If in doubt, ask the venue where you can buy genuine tickets.

Protection schemes

If you use a credit card for tickets priced over £100, you will get Section 75 protection, which is enshrined in law and may help you get your cash back.

If you use a debit card, you may be protected by the Chargeback Scheme instead, although this is not a legal requirement.

If you are buying tickets directly via eBay or in person, online payments may be eligible for PayPal Buyer Protection, if the seller can be tracked down. However, this will not apply if you pay by another method like bank transfer or cash.

Selling tickets that you don’t need

Official agencies and resale websites will often offer to buy back unwanted tickets, meaning you can claw back at least some of your money if you cannot attend.

Venues want to fill seats, so they often partner with an official agency to let fans recycle unwanted tickets. Check the venue’s website to see if they advertise an official resale route or call the venue direct for advice.

Some football clubs have resale agreements with Viagogo, StubHub and other auction sites to allow fans to sell their tickets to the club’s existing members. Visit your club’s website to see if they have an agreement or their own scheme in place.

‘Touting’ or selling tickets on the roadside is illegal unless you have a street vendor’s licence. In some cases, civil proceedings can be brought against you if reselling breaks your ticket’s terms and conditions.

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