Buying tickets on eBay guide

Is it worth the risk?
 
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  • Updated:6 Jun 2007
 

01 .Introduction

Computer & tickets

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

  • 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.

Victoria

  • 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.

Other events

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.


 
 

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02.Tips for buying on eBay

 

If you do decide to buy tickets on eBay here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Do a search using a combination of keywords in order to find all the available tickets for the event. Check the ‘Completed Listings’ box on the left-hand side of the page so you can also see what other tickets have sold for. The sold tickets appear in green and the available ones in red.
  • Check who the seller is. Every seller on eBay has a feedback score. The higher the score, the more experience they’ve had selling on the site. More importantly, the ‘positive rating’ lets you know the percentage of feedback that’s been positive. Be wary of anything under 95%.
  • Read the feedback comments carefully. These give you an idea about previous buyers’ experiences with the seller and let you know what to expect.
  • If you’re unsure about anything, ask the seller questions via the eBay mail link. It’s important to know which payment options the seller will accept and how they intend to get the tickets to you.
  • Don’t buy tickets unless they have plenty of time to arrive before the event. You need to include time for the payment to clear and potential postage delays.
  • Have your tickets sent by Registered Post. This is usually insured for up to $100 in case the tickets get lost in the mail (within Australia only). You can also pay extra for additional insurance.

What to do if something goes wrong

  • If you don’t receive the tickets you’ve paid for or if they turn out to be fakes, it may be possible to get your money back. Following recent changes to the Buyer Protection Program, if you pay via PayPal you can be reimbursed up to $3000 if certain conditions are met.
  • First the seller’s listings have to be eligible, which means they need to have feedback on at least 50 items and 98% of the feedback is positive. Under the new scheme if you buy from a seller with feedback on less than 50 items you may still be covered for up to $400.
  • If a seller qualifies for Buyer Protection you’ll see a small PayPal symbol next to their listing. You also need to file a claim with Paypal within 45 days of payment.
  • eBay no longer provides any protection for items that aren’t bought using Paypal.

03.Alternatives to eBay

 

Other ways to get tickets

  • Premium ticket sites, such as preferredseating.com.au and bluetix.com.au, only sell tickets for the best seats in the house and claim to secure tickets before the public on-sale date.
  • Try contacting supporters’ clubs or fan sites. They often have an email forum where you can ask if anyone has tickets to sell or, for sporting events, you can see if any season ticket holders are unable to use their tickets for a particular game.
  • Some credit card companies offer cardholders access to tickets before they’re released to the general public.
  • Book a hospitality package. A number of companies offer travel and/or hospitality packages to major events. The package often includes tickets to the event, accommodation and transport, but can be an expensive option.

Low-tech scalping

So what about scalping the old-fashioned way? Is it a good idea to buy tickets from guys in dark coats skulking around outside the venue?

  • The Queensland legislation outlawing ticket scalping at some venues also applies to touts selling tickets outside those venues. Buyers of the tickets can also be fined under this law.
  • Some councils have by-laws mandating fines for scalpers caught selling tickets outside venues, and some venues also have their own regulations to control scalping.
  • Generally it’s not a good idea to buy these tickets, as there’s always a risk they’re not genuine and you’ll be left with useless tickets and no way to get your money back.

Case study: Paid double, but worth it

David Payne bought tickets for an international rugby test match on eBay. He paid double the face value for the tickets but says it was worth it. “I missed out on getting tickets and I really wanted to go, so I was willing to pay the extra,” he says.

David had heard the tickets could be cancelled if they were traced to the internet site but decided it was worth the risk. “The seller gave me the row number the seats were in but not the actual seat numbers, so hopefully they couldn’t be cancelled,” he says. He felt pretty confident after reading the seller’s positive feedback and asking him a couple of questions. “I’d definitely do it again if there was something I really wanted to go to,” he says.