We’ve all experienced it. You see a tour announcement, get online bang on time for the ticket release, and… the show has sold out before you can even check out with your tickets.
Within hours, you’ll find many of those tickets with jacked-up prices – in some cases three or four times the cost of the original ticket – on reseller sites like Ticketmaster Resale and Viagogo, as well as ‘traditional’ online marketplaces like eBay and Gumtree.
Consumer advocacy group CHOICE is just as sick of scalpers as the punters are, and they’ve lodged a complaint with the ACCC against Ticketmaster Resale and Viagogo particularly, accusing them of misleading and deceptive conduct.
CHOICE spokesman Tom Godfrey told triple j the resale sites (politely referred to as the ‘secondary ticket market,’) duped buyers by marketing themselves as official sellers offering consumer protection, “which we found not to be the case.”
When the sites launched in 2013 and 2014 they were immediately popular due to their claims they “bring fraud down,” (Viagogo CEO Eric Baker) and offer a safer alternative to eBay and Gumtree.
In a lot of cases, tickets are being sold to shows that still have tickets available at the official outlet – CHOICE discovered listings for ‘the cheapest in Sydney!’ tickets to Adele, which at $145 were actually $41 dearer than tickets still available through the official outlet.
Along with the price hiking and risk of venues cancelling tickets, the investigation found an additional sting for consumers in Queensland – they can face fines in excess of $600 if they pay above the 10% margin outlined in the State’s law.
“Worst case scenario, is having paid all that money, you can be left outside the ground, facing a fine,” Godfrey said.
The CHOICE web site offers tips for punters wanting to avoid getting ripped off:
Protect yourself buying tickets online
Don’t assume the first Google result is the official ticketing page.
Most producers, promoters, artists and venues will put links to the authorised ticket outlet on their sites.
If the tickets you want have sold out and you do decide to purchase from the resale market, be aware of the risks associated with that. Industry peak body Live Performance Australia has a detailed consumer guide [PDF] for navigating the secondary market.
Some promoters are taking measures to avoid punters being ripped off by scalpers, including Midnight Oil‘s latest tour, where they are withholding a limited number of tickets to even sold out shows for a release closer to the performance date, to give fans another chance at purchasing official tickets.