Some people follow their favorite artists religiously, buying their concert tickets the moment they go on sale. Others of us aren’t ready to commit to concert plans, often months in advance, and so we wait awhile. This often means we miss out on first-round tickets and are left with resorting to resales.
Buying tickets secondhand can be someone’s worst nightmare. For others, it’s a gold mine. Depending on where you live, you can sometimes buy tickets 20 minutes before the show for a quarter of the original selling price. It’s a risk, but one that thousands of millennials take.
With a plethora of websites and apps available, such as StubHub, VividSeats, and even Craigslist, lining up for concert tickets, both physically and online, is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Some of them even have sales on their tickets, such as TicketNetwork, which slashes prices for its Black Friday sale.
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But what are the risks involved in buying tickets from a reseller? Around 11 percent of millennials have fallen victim to ticket fraud according to a survey by Aventus, which is working toward an open-source protocol that delivers the global standard for ticketing.
So why do we continue to buy tickets from strangers online? It’s worth it for many of us. But it often comes at a cost. Here are some tips on how to buy concert tickets and what to watch out for:
Imagine you've set a price alert for an upcoming show. Suddenly, you get an email stating tickets are now available for less than $50. Great! But when you go to the site and reach the checkout, the tickets are actually $80. Why? Added fees.
Buying tickets online, whether the moment they go on sale or right before the show, isn't as simple as it used to be.
Now there are fees that can add up to $50 to the total purchase price. Many of these fees are surreptitiously added at the final checkout page, which many users find frustrating. Sometimes it’s a $7 processing fee, or $20 in “total fees.”
Most of the time, a quantification isn't available, so it's unclear what these “fees” really are. According to Yaniquecca at the StubHub Support Center, the fees include delivery charges and service charges. However, an exact breakdown is not available. Hmmmm.
From Ticketmaster to SeatGeek, most of these major websites also offer to include insurance with your ticket during the checkout process. Ticketmaster has partnered with Allianz Insurance and offers protection on your purchase for $7, which seems reasonable, but maybe not when you’ve already spent $250 on a ticket.
Buying insurance is a step many people skip. Why? The terms are often vague about what cases are covered and what cases are not, particularly with resale tickets.
But where do the lines blur? While most insurance states that it covers you in the event of the flu, travel trouble, or even a business emergency, what if the ticket you bought was from a reseller?
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The Trouble With Insurance and Resale Tickets
Unless you bought it as a “verified resale ticket,” your chances are slim, since the insurance is under the original buyer's name. StubHub, as a secondary ticket marketplace, can't cancel and refund valid purchases.
What it does is “allow buyers to become sellers by walking them through the process of relisting the tickets on the website,” according to Yaniquecca.
StubHub has what it calls its FanProtect Guarantee, which caters to both buyers and sellers on the site. The guarantee promises the buyers that they will get their tickets on time for the event, that the tickets will be valid for entry, and that the tickets will be the same as those ordered.
“If there’s any issue with your tickets, we’ll do our best to find you comparable tickets, or offer you a full refund as a last resort,” StubHub says. “Our first priority is to get you into the event!”
While this may be reassuring for some, for many others who are used to the old-fashioned way of receiving an envelope with a physical ticket months before the show, this guarantee may not put their minds at ease as they line up outside the stadium.
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But if you’re buying the ticket on the site, how do you know if you’re covered? If the artist cancels, are you refunded the full amount you paid, or just face value? With some of the bigger, well-known companies, you seem to be covered in most circumstances. For others, it’s case by case.
My StubHub Experience
A couple of weeks ago, I purchased some last-minute tickets to a concert in Madison Square Garden. By last minute, I mean literally 20 minutes before the show began.
- StubHub: One of the most popular resale sites for a variety of events, from sports to live entertainment. StubHub has its own FanProtect Guarantee to give you peace of mind.
- Vivid Seats: Acts as a middleman between ticket buyers and sellers. This site takes a 10-percent commission once tickets have sold and also charges buyers shipping charges and service fees.
- TicketNetwork: From concert tickets to Broadway shows, TicketNetwork has one of the biggest selections of resale tickets around. They are having a sale for this week only: Click here and use the code BLACKFRIDAY20.
- TodayTix: Sells discounted tickets for live or cultural events up to hours before the show. Customers in New York City can meet a concierge with their tickets outside the show.
- TickPick: This site works a little differently in that users have to bid on tickets rather than just buy them. It also prides itself in having no hidden fees.
- SeatGeek: An aggregator of cheap tickets for all types of events, from NFL to classical music.
I went onto the StubHub app as I walked to the venue and purchased some pretty decent tickets for $58 each. When I added on fees, the total came to $72.35 apiece. That wasn’t bad, given that the face value was $120 or so. Plus, these seemed like good seats.
When we got to the venue, we were escorted to our seating area, which looked a bit strange to me. Then I realized my ticket was in the wheelchair section. I'm not a wheelchair user, and I wasn't attending the concert with a wheelchair user. As such, I wasn’t sure if we were even allowed to sit in that section.
I felt guilty, imagining that we were taking up seats that someone with accessibility issues needed. So before the show began, I went on the StubHub Live Chat on my phone.
It took only a couple of minutes to connect. After I explained the situation, the customer service representative issued me a full refund. Since the buyer hadn’t stated the correct information on the ticket, I was covered because technically, I hadn’t bought the ticket I was issued.
In a similar case, my friend Jennifer C., 24, purchased tickets for an upcoming show at the Prudential Center through StubHub. There was a delay in receiving a confirmation after payment went through, so she contacted customer service.
In this case, StubHub contacted the seller, but the seller was “unresponsive,” which is a major red flag. After a couple of more attempts, StubHub came to the conclusion that it wouldn't get these tickets from the buyer. So the company offered Jennifer tickets in a similar section, but four rows back. These were available on the site for an extra $100. However, because of the problem, StubHub paid the difference and gave her the tickets.
Neither my friend nor I consciously chose to add insurance in either instance. But in both cases, we were still covered. My situation seems to have been one of dumb luck. Jennifer’s experience, on the other hand, seems to happen more often. And it's still unclear whether the scammer received the money or not, or whether the website had to foot the bill.
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Not all ticket resales end in horror stories, but it’s important to remember that many do. If you don’t want to wade into the waters of ticket reselling, try other options, such as free summer concerts or even season passes to certain venues.
How to Buy Concert Tickets Safely
With so many options nowadays for concert tickets, consumers should always do research before clicking the checkout button. Scammers and scalpers have gotten more clever.
“Consumers should pay attention to where the event is being held and who is promoting the event,” says Fred Maglione, former executive chairman of TopTix. “And always start their search from official websites.”