Ticket on-selling and scalping factsheet
Organisers of sporting and entertainment events authorise certain agencies to sell tickets to their events. When unauthorised people on-sell tickets, sometimes for an inflated price, it can greatly disadvantage consumers.
The growth of internet sites such as eBay and Gumtree has made ticket on-selling easier for sellers. As a result, ticket on-selling has become a popular way for people to source tickets who miss out on purchasing from an official outlet.
Unauthorised sellers who obtain large quantities of tickets exploit the one-off nature of events and make it harder for everyone else to attend. By making tickets harder to come by, it pushes up the cost in both price and effort.
While ticket on-selling is not illegal in Australia, there are risks associated with doing so. There are a number of things to consider as a consumer and as an event organiser to ensure these risks are kept to a minimum.
Risks to consumers
Buying a ticket through an unauthorised seller carries a significant amount of risk. On-sellers are usually not registered businesses, and consumers may not get the same protections as when buying tickets through an authorised seller.
There are risks a consumer may:
- pay significantly more than what an authorised seller is charging;
- not receive a refund if an event is cancelled; or
- be scammed if the tickets are not delivered or the tickets are counterfeit.
If an event is cancelled, the organisers may only refund original buyers and will often pay the funds directly onto their credit card or into their bank account. This leaves the decision to pass on the refund up to the seller.
If a consumer buys a counterfeit ticket, they may not know they have done so until they arrive at the event and are refused entry. Some ticket on-sellers will scan, print and sell more than one copy of the same ticket even though only one will be valid. In both these instances it is very difficult to track down the seller and recover any costs.
Even in the case the ticket is otherwise legitimate, if the terms and conditions prevent on-selling the event organiser may refuse to honour the ticket.
Protection for consumers
It is always recommended you use an authorised agency to purchase tickets. By doing so, you have rights as a consumer under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The ACL requires a seller to:
- provide tickets that are fit for purpose and match their description;
- advertise one price which includes all fees, plus the minimum postage costs, if known by the seller at the time;
- provide a receipt; and
- not mislead in any way.
The Public Trading Local Law 2005 also prevents the selling of goods or services, including ticket scalping and on-selling, in public areas within the City of Perth without a trading permit.
Consumers can reduce the risk associated with buying tickets and safe-guard themselves by following these tips:
- find out from the event organiser who the authorised sellers are;
- check WA ScamNet (www.scamnet.wa.gov.au);
- check the terms and conditions of the ticket before purchasing;
- never give out too many personal details online, including birthdates;
- only use secure payment methods and consider using a credit card which usually has added protections of its own; and
- always ask for a receipt and save all transaction records.
What can organisers do to protect their events from scalpers?
Event organisers can use a number of different measures to prevent or reduce scalping of their tickets, including:
- placing limits on the number of tickets one person can purchase;
- using extra security to verify that it is a person, not a computer, buying the tickets;
- requiring names be printed on tickets and checked against ID at events;
- using electronic ticketing and including a barcode to be scanned at the event;
- requiring the credit card that was used in the purchase be presented at events; and
- staggering the release of tickets to encourage people to wait and buy from authorised sellers.
If things go wrong
If things go wrong with tickets bought from an authorised agency, consumers should firstly contact the agency to discuss the problem and try to resolve their complaint directly.
Unfortunately, major events can be targeted by scammers selling counterfeit tickets. If a ticket is purchased, and turns out to be counterfeit, is cancelled, or doesn’t arrive, report the transaction to WA ScamNet on 1300 304 054 (for the cost of a local call state-wide) or by email.
If the tickets were purchased using PayPal, contact their Resolution Centre and see if there are any protections offered through their PayPal Buyer Protection program, see the PayPal website for details or phone 1800 073 263. Or if payment was made using a credit card a refund may be claimed from the card provider.
If the outcomes from the steps above are unsatisfactory phone the Consumer Protection Advice Line on 1300 304 054 or email.
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