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BBB: Use good judgment when buying tickets online

  • Special to The Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, at 7:16 a.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, at 7:19 a.m.

Whether it’s a ball game or a hot concert, consumers are more likely than ever to buy their tickets online.

Be sure the seller is trustworthy before sending them the sometimes-extravagant sum required for those seats.

Online ticket sites fall into one of two categories: broker sites or broker collective sites. A broker site is a seller who usually has a limited number of tickets in their local area. A broker collective site is often a better choice because they have tickets available from multiple sources so they can have a larger selection and usually better prices.

Spend a few minutes researching the site you are considering buying from.

Do a Google search on them and look for whether they have racked up complaints from unhappy customers. Go to the Better Business Bureau’s website and search for them as well. If the business has many complaints, look for someone else to sell you tickets.

Consider how they have handled past complaints as stated on the BBB review website.

When you have more than one site to choose from, compare ticket prices. Most will charge you a service fee, which isn’t added on until you get to the checkout page. There will most likely be a shipping fee as well. Don’t pay a service fee that is higher than 15 percent. You can probably find a lower one elsewhere. The shipping cost is fairly standard at $15 for a FedEx shipment.

When paying online for the tickets, look to see that the payment page is secured. There should be an https:// at the beginning of the Web address for that page.

If you are buying tickets from an online auction, such as eBay, do not buy from new sellers with no history of feedback from customers. A long history of satisfied customers can signal that the seller is safe to buy from.

Watch out if an eBay seller claims that they will have eBay send you “verification” of their seller status. eBay does not operate that way. Any seller claiming otherwise is a scammer.

Do not buy tickets to events within the United States from a seller located out of the country. Watch for grammatical errors in ad copy or other signs that it has not been written by English-speaking persons.

Never buy tickets from a seller that asks you to pay through Western Union, cashier’s check or something similar. Remember that if you get scammed you are responsible for paying costs, not the scammer. For online sales, PayPal is the safest payment method.

Watch out for fake tickets. Technology is enabling scammers to create tickets that look genuine. Before you buy, ask the seller for photos of the tickets and look carefully at them. Zoom in on the photo to see if it has been manipulated or if the original ticket has been altered. If possible, compare the photo with genuine tickets, perhaps from a friend.

It’s almost always true that the later you wait to buy tickets, the more expensive they will be. If you end up trying to buy from a scalper outside the event, buyer beware. The seats may or may not be as good as the seller claims. Also remember that some states prohibit selling tickets at a higher cost than is printed on the ticket.

As is the case in most things, if the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Remember that tickets are expensive because they’re hard to get. Your chances of finding a dream deal are extremely slim. If you have questions about buying tickets online, contact the Better Business Bureau at (800) 856-2417 or visit our website at www.kansasplains.bbb.org.

Denise Groene is the state director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas.

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