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A Consumer Guide to Buying Tickets Online
The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
A CONSUMER GUIDE TO BUYING TICKETS ONLINE
Online ticket sales are a convenient way for fans of sports, music, theater, and movies to buy tickets for their favorite events. Unfortunately, buying tickets online also comes with some risk. Sometimes consumers end up paying more than they otherwise would or getting fake tickets that will not be honored by the venue. This can happen when consumers wander onto websites using addresses similar to that of legitimate venues, theaters, sports teams, or ticket sellers. Consumer have also purchased tickets far in advance for events that later get cancelled. Following a few basic rules will help you avoid some of these pitfalls.
TIPS FOR BUYING TICKETS ONLINE
Before you buy tickets online, there are some important rules you should keep in mind to make sure your ticket-buying experience is stress free:
1. Know who you are dealing with. If you purchase tickets online, make sure you are on a reputable website especially before providing any payment or other personal financial information. Anyone can set up a "spoof" website and make it seem like it is the website for a venue or other legitimate ticket seller. Unsuspecting consumers find their way to a "spoofed" website with a web address that is similar to the legitimate ticket seller's address. Aside from potential licensing and trademark violations, "spoof" websites may expose duped consumers to identity theft, overpriced tickets, counterfeit tickets, and other issues.
To protect yourself, make sure you know who you are dealing with before buying tickets. It's best to purchase tickets from websites that you are familiar with and have used successfully in the past, such as the website for the venue, theater, sports team, or ticket selling website. If you're not familiar with the website you want to use to buy tickets, use a search engine to find the site, rather than just typing in an address you that think might belong to the venue. Many spoof sites use a similar name or spelling to take advantage of shoppers who search for sites this way. Most popular search engines spot and correct spelling mistakes and help you locate the correct website, so this is a safer way to search when it's a site you are not familiar with. If you are still unsure, try calling the venue directly and ask for their web address.
2. Contact consumer-oriented organizations to research the seller before you purchase tickets. If you are unfamiliar with a ticket seller, you can call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-765-8388 and ask if we have any complaints on file regarding that seller. Remember that even though the Attorney General may not have any complaints on file about a particular seller, it does not mean the seller is legitimate ? it just means that no one has filed a complaint with us. You may also be able to research a ticket seller on the Better Business Bureau's national website, at http://www.bbb.org.
3. Using credit is better than cash or a check. If you purchase tickets online, especially via online auction sites, you should try and buy tickets using a credit card. Purchasing tickets with a credit card often provides you with protection that you would not otherwise have if you purchase tickets via cash or check. Added protections include the ability to dispute a charge if a concert or event is cancelled, or if you receive counterfeit tickets.
4. Shop on secure websites. If a website begins with "https," the "s" means that the website is secure. Typically, the "s" will not appear in the web address until you access the order page of the site where you are asked to enter your personal information. Another indicator of a secure website is a closed lock located at the bottom of your screen. Secure websites take precautions to ensure that others cannot see and copy the personal information you send.
5. Follow these additional tips. For additional tips on how to protect yourself when shopping online, please see the Attorney General's Consumer Alert entitled "'Tis the Season for Protecting Yourself When Making Purchases," available at http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-17337_20942-252802--,00.html.
Another helpful website is OnGuardOnline.gov, which provides tips from the federal government to help protect yourself, your computer, and your personal information when you are online.
What if the event I purchase tickets for is cancelled?
Unfortunately, special events like concerts or festivals are sometimes cancelled by the venue or promoter. Sometimes, the venue or promoter (or others associated with planning the event) will provide consumers with refunds. Keep in mind that if an event is cancelled because the promoter or venue is having financial trouble, they may not be financially able to provide you with a refund. Or in some instances, the tickets you purchased will be honored at a later event.
If you purchase tickets to an event that is cancelled, and you are not provided with a refund, file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at http://www.michigan.gov/ag or at the address provided below. You may also be able to dispute the charge with your credit card company. Follow the instructions provided by your credit card company for disputing charges, and make sure you keep copies of all written correspondence related to the charge. If you decide to dispute the charge with your credit card company, it is important to notify your credit card company as soon as you learn that the event is cancelled.
CONTACT THE ATTORNEY GENERAL IF YOU HAVE A COMPLAINT
If you have a complaint regarding tickets you purchased online, please contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at:
Consumer Protection Division
Toll free: 877-765-8388
www.michigan.gov/ag (online complaint form)
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