By Marshall Loeb
RISMEDIA, Feb. 21, 2008-(MCT)-Buying tickets for shows, concerts and sporting events online is akin to walking a virtual tightrope, with box offices and authorized companies on one side and ticket scalpers on the other. Fall on the wrong side and you will likely have to deal with outrageous prices and refused refunds.
To avoid getting fleeced by shady ticket sellers, which often disguise themselves as legitimate websites, heed these six tips from AARP magazine author Laura Daily.
- Go to the source. Don’t just do an Internet search for “Meadowlands tickets.” You could be lured to a site that looks real but is actually a scalper in disguise. Always visit an event’s official Website or call the venue directly.
- Join the club. Sign up for alerts, venue memberships and fan clubs that move you to the head of the line. Insiders often learn about advance sales and find out first when a show goes on sale.
- Strategize. If you’re dealing with a broker, don’t jump on the first seats you’re offered. The closer you get to an event, the more likely prices are to drop as sellers get desperate to get rid of their merchandise.
- Be persistent. No show is sold out until the curtain rises. Sponsors may not use their full allocation and extra shows may be added. Official ticket sites are also increasingly trying to combat hucksters; Ticketmaster, for example, often puts tickets back up for sale after finding that a buyer’s credit-card number is fraudulent. Don’t hesitate to call the box office the day of the performance.
- Beware of e-tickets. Some venues send buyers e-tickets that you print from your computer. They’re perfectly legit, but be wary if you buy them secondhand. There’s nothing to stop a scalper from selling copies of the printout. If you buy from a reseller, ask for a regular ticket.
- Research their rep. It’s no guarantee you’ll get a good deal, but make sure a broker is licensed by the National Association of Ticket Brokers (www.natb.org). Buying from a real storefront can help, too, since you can actually see the tickets.
- And check the seat map: those “great seats” on sale may actually be nose-bleeders.
© 2008, MarketWatch.com Inc.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.