University of Wisconsin Badger football fans are pretty savvy shoppers when it comes to buying Rose Bowl tickets – maybe because they’ve had so much practice, having made the trip to Pasadena for the past three years. Nonetheless, the Better Business Bureau wants to remind Badger fans that scams and counterfeit tickets are common, and they should use caution when buying tickets and packages – especially online.
The opportunity for sports fans to be scammed by fake ticket sellers occurs most often when people buy tickets from individuals outside the stadium, on the street or through online auctions, classified ads and bulletin boards, warns the BBB.
“Sports fans can get burned by purchasing counterfeit tickets or paying in advance for tickets that never arrive,” said Randall Hoth, Wisconsin BBB president/CEO. “Hotel scams may involve invalid reservations or rooms advertised as close to the stadium that either don’t exist or are nowhere near the stadium.”
The secondary market for sporting and entertainment tickets is a $10 billion a year industry. It 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 BBB complaints by consumers nationwide.
“The Internet has become the arena of choice for sports fans looking to buy or sell tickets,” Hoth said. “Unfortunately, it also has become a breeding ground for scammers.”
The BBB offers these tips to make sure you do not get scammed:
- Before buying from an online ticket broker, look for the BBB logo on the website and click on it to make sure it is real. The BBB’s dynamic seal will take you directly to the BBB Business Review on the company, where you can read about the company’s record for responding to complaints. Make sure the website has a secure payment processing system, usually denoted by “https://” at the start of its website address or URL or a small closed lock icon at the bottom of the screen.
- If purchasing from an online auction site, like eBay, never leave the website to finish a transaction; you will lose protection a website like eBay provides.
- Try to buy from someone who is local and has a good history of satisfying customers. Check other consumers’ feedback before purchasing tickets from the seller.
- 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. Use either a credit card or Paypal, so that charges can be disputed if there is a problem with the tickets.
- Ask the seller to email you a picture of the tickets, including a receipt or other proof that the tickets are not counterfeit. Scrutinize the picture carefully, looking for any alterations or inaccuracies, and cross-check the seat assignment with the map on the venue’s Web site before you buy.
- Get the seller’s real name and contact information. When meeting the seller, ask for some identification, and write it down in case you need it later.
- Never go alone to pick up tickets purchased from someone online, and always meet in a public place. The “seller” knows when and where you’re going to be, and that you’re carrying a lot of cash. He/she may be setting you up to get robbed.
- If purchasing a package, ask for the name, address and phone number of the hotel where the room is located, and call the hotel to verify that the room actually exists. Check the hotel’s website or a well-known travel site to be sure that the location is convenient for getting to and from the ballpark.
- Be wary of ads that pile on incentives to make the package look better. Often the items – such as lanyards, T-shirts or other trinkets – have limited value.
- Be careful buying tickets from someone on the street. When you get to the gate and find out your tickets aren’t real, the seller will be long gone.
For more information or further inquiries, please contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). Consumers also can receive news, tips and advice from the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook or Twitter. Click here for an online version of this story.