Theatre-goers, music lovers and sports fans are increasingly heading online when they miss out on the hottest tickets in town. But new legislation and attempts by promoters to thwart scalpers can make it a risky practice.
Here’s a few tips on how to avoid being ripped off if you miss out on buying tickets first-hand.
Tickets to avoid
Currently only certain events in Queensland and Victoria are subject to anti-scalping legislation. CHOICE doesn’t recommend buying scalpers’ tickets to any of the events covered by these laws. eBay also provides a warning on its site to buyers before they buy tickets to these events.
- Queensland is the only state to impose a blanket ban on ticket scalping for events held at certain government-owned venues. These include the Gabba, Suncorp Stadium, the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Dairy Farmers Stadium, the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre, the Sleeman Sports Complex and Skilled Park.
- The law, which came into effect in December last year, mandates fines of up to $1500 for anyone who resells tickets at more than 10% above their original price. And it’s not only the seller of the tickets who’s punished — the buyer can also be fined up to $375, as well as losing their money and finding their tickets useless.
- The fines apply whether or not the buyers and/or sellers are residents of Queensland. If a ticket for one of these events has been spotted on eBay the police will contact the site, the tickets will be removed and the details of the seller will be passed to the police.
- The Victorian government passed laws in 2002 that outlaw ticket scalping at some popular sporting events. The government decides which events are to be protected under the legislation and to date they’ve included the AFL Grand Final, the Commonwealth Games and this year’s World Swimming Championships.
- Scalpers face fines of up to $6445 and anyone who buys an illegal ticket can be denied access to the event.
- eBay says it works with the Victorian government with regard to these events and will remove tickets from the site if advised to do so by the government. A similar proposal was introduced into the South Australian parliament in 2005 but was rejected.
Aside from the limited protection offered by these states, promoters of major events have also tried to thwart ticket scalpers in a number of ways.
- Last year Cricket Australia cancelled more than 1000 Ashes tickets it suspected were going to be sold by scalpers. A number of these had been traded on eBay.
- However, when Creative Festival Entertainment, promoter of the Big Day Out, tried to stop tickets for this year’s event being snapped up by scalpers, eBay took it to court — and won. CFE had printed warnings on the tickets that any resold for profit would be cancelled. The court found this was deceptive and misleading, as the company couldn’t possibly track down all the tickets that had been resold for profit.
- But this doesn’t mean promoters are now powerless to take action against scalpers. The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has printed a warning on tickets to the recent international rugby series saying that it “has the right to” deny admission if tickets have been resold at a premium, sold through a broker or agent or been advertised for resale on the internet (whether at a premium or not).
- The ARU has a similar policy for all tickets issued on its behalf. Despite this, rugby tickets can still be found on eBay, albeit with a warning about the ARU’s terms and conditions.
So what does all this mean for diehard fans willing to pay over the odds? CHOICE recommends finding out the particular terms and conditions for each event before buying tickets online. If they aren’t available on eBay, go to the promoter’s website. At least that way you’ll be fully aware of the risks of your purchase and can decide whether it’s worth it.
Please note: this information was current as of June 2007 but is still a useful guide to today's market.