Online Ticket Purchasing
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 concerns. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
Online Ticket Purchasing
Purchasing tickets online is a convenient way for fans of sport, music, theater, and film to buy tickets to their favorite events. Unfortunately, there are risks associated with buying tickets on the Internet. From convenience charges to counterfeit sales to event cancellations, the potential pitfalls of online ticket purchasing are numerous. Following a few basic rules will help you avoid these risks.
Tips for Buying Tickets Online
Before you buy tickets online, there are some important rules you should keep in mind:
- Know your vendor. If you purchase tickets online, make sure you are buying from a reputable website, especially before providing any personal financial information. Anyone can set up a "spoof" website and make it seem like it is the official website of a legitimate venue or ticket outlet. All too often, 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 offer consumers overpriced or counterfeit tickets and expose the consumer to identity theft. Counterfeiting is also a common problem on websites that function as online classified postings. When using such sites, consumers should be especially wary of tickets that are listed for sale "by owner," as these tickets are brokered by individual purchasers rather than official venues. In such cases, the credibility of the seller can be difficult or impossible to establish.
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 official website for the venue, theater, sports team, or ticket outlet. 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 simply typing in an address that you 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 for unfamiliar websites. If you are still unsure, try calling the venue directly and asking for its official web address.
Finally, once you locate the correct web address, be aware that some online ticket vendors charge "convenience fees" for purchasing tickets through their sites. These additional fees can result in a substantially more expensive transaction than purchasers originally anticipate. Accordingly, if you have the option to purchase tickets in person at the event venue, you should consider doing so.
- Do your research. If you are unfamiliar with a particular ticket vendor, you can call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 877-765-8388 and ask if we have any complaints on file regarding that seller. Remember, however, that the absence of filed complaints does not guarantee a seller's legitimacy; it simply means that we have not received any complaints concerning the vendor. As an additional resource, try researching the ticket seller on the Better Business Bureau's national website.
- Use credit. If you purchase tickets online, especially via an online auction site, it is recommended that you complete your transaction using a credit card. Purchasing tickets with a credit card often provides you with protections that you would not otherwise have if you purchased the tickets using cash or check. Added protections include the ability to dispute a charge if an event is cancelled, or if you receive counterfeit tickets that a venue refuses to honor. Try to choose sellers with long histories of satisfied customers, and make sure the online bid amount is listed in American dollars.
- Shop securely. If a website begins with "https," the "s" indicates 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 graphic of 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 provide.
- Inspect your tickets. If you plan to purchase tickets from a source other than an established venue or official outlet, you can reduce your risk of arriving at the venue only to be turned away by physically inspecting the tickets. Check the time, date, and location on the tickets to ensure that this information matches your expectations. Review the listed seat assignments and call the venue to ensure that they represent validly assigned positions within the facility. The venue may also be able to provide you with information about unique features of authentic tickets. Scan both the front and back of the tickets for discrepancies, including text misspellings, official hologram omissions, and bar code irregularities. In all these cases, it is helpful to compare your purchase with a ticket you know to be genuine. You can also ask the seller to provide a proof of purchase at the time of the transaction. Remember, if you're getting a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
What if the event for which I purchased tickets is cancelled?
Unfortunately, special events like concerts or festivals are sometimes cancelled by the venue or promoter. When such cancellations occur, the venue, promoter, or other associated planners will sometimes provide consumers with refunds. Alternatively, the purchased tickets may be honored at a later event.
If you purchase tickets to an event that is subsequently cancelled, and you are not provided with a refund or alternative solution, file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division online or at the physical 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.
Additional Resources for Online Purchasers
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."
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.
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
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form