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Consumer - Buying Tickets Safely

Friday, 19 February 2010

Tina Leonard, Our Consumer Expert

A lot of people go online and scour the internet for available tickets. And you will be able to find them. But, they come at a cost; you pay well above the odds or worse still, you pay and receive either nothing or a ticket that won't be accepted.

Ways to buy a ticket:

1. Through the official ticket agent i.e. Ticketmaster, IRFU, FIFA
2. Through an online ticket tout or from a private individual.
3. Through a fraudulent seller.

1. The official agents:

Also called the primary ticket agents, this is the best way to buy tickets and the only way you can be 100% guaranteed to get the ticket and for it to be at face value.

2. Online touts / individuals:

If you are desperate for a ticket to some event and happy to pay well over the odds you will buy from a secondary ticket agent or an online tout.

This is the same as buying a ticket from a tout outside a venue except the transaction takes place online and in advance of the event.

In other words they buy tickets and then sell them on, usually at a greater price. The web sites look great and professional but they are basically ticket touts in fancy clothes.

Ticket touting is not illegal here, but neither is secondary ticket selling controlled or regulated.

It's not that they are all con artists, most times you will get your ticket but just be aware that you are always taking a risk when buying from a secondary seller.


3. Fraudulent Sellers:

In other situations people have unknowingly bought counterfeit tickets and not been allowed access to the event. MCD promoters issued a warning about counterfeit tickets last May ahead of the Oasis concert at Slane.

Some sites are set up especially for one event, and they'll disappear as soon as the event date is past. For example, a fraudulent site was set up just for the Miley Cyrus tour that sold non-existent tickets, and many Irish people were affected. The sites have since disappeared.

Questions You Should Ask:

1. How has the website got the tickets to sell?
Are they selling tickets to events that haven't gone on sale yet? Are they guaranteeing you tickets to events that have been sold out for months?
Check with the venue to find out when tickets are being released for sale and when the tickets will be sent out, if they're sold out etc.

2. Who is the website registered to? And how long has it been registered?
What do you know about the website? Check where the website registered and who it is registered to. How long has the website been registered? You can search for domain name registrant information using an online search tool, such as and ( domain names).

3. What are others saying about the website?
Search the internet to find out what other people's experiences have been. Always check for feedback, both positive and negative by entering the website name into a search engine.

4. How can you contact the company?
Check that you know their full geographic address and check they have a working landline phone number. Where is their office? Under EU law companies selling online must supply the full geographic address where their business is established, not just a P.O. Box or mailbox number. Check out the address using a search engine - you can often find out if it is just a mail forwarding service. How can you contact them? Do they have a landline number? Does this number work? Is it automated and/or require you to leave messages on an answer phone? Be wary if they only supply you with an email address or mobile phone number.

5. Can they provide ticket details?
Ensure that the face value of the tickets and the seat location are clearly listed. What type of seat/ticket are you buying? Ask for details. What is the face value of the ticket? How much is the ticket being sold for and are there any additional charges? When will the ticket be dispatched and how will you be notified?

6. Do they provide refunds?
Make sure there is a refund policy in case something goes wrong. What happens if things go wrong? What is the company's policy on refunds?

Other Advice:

7. Pay by credit card
This way at least you can ask your credit issuing bank to issue a 'charge back' if you never get the tickets. Also check that the payment pages are secure (padlock symbol / https)

8. Print your order confirmation
Always print out a copy of your order and a copy of the acknowledgement you should receive from the company. This way at least you have evidence.

9. Report the Scam
Report the incident to the Gardai. Share your experiences with others, good and bad.