Complaints from music fans about unscrupulous ticket sellers have risen
A code of conduct to try to reduce fraudulent sales of concert and theatre tickets has been launched following a rise in complaints about scams.
The code from the Office of Fair Trading and the Society of Ticket Agent Retailers (Star) will cover box office and online vendors.
Members of the scheme, which include Lastminute.com and Ticketmaster, will display a Star logo.
It does not cover sales on eBay, nor on many unregulated reselling sites.
There is no money back guarantee, but Star members have pledged to provide clear information about rescheduled or cancelled events and outline the procedure and circumstances to process a refund.
"Star has been protecting consumers from sharp practices for over 10 years, but there is more work to be done, as complaints about online ticket scams and street touts continue to flood in," said Jonathan Brown, secretary of Star.
"We need to improve consumer awareness of what to look for when buying tickets, so people can avoid paying inflated prices or risk losing everything if something goes wrong."
SELECTED SCHEME MEMBERS
Keith Prowse Ticketing
Ticketmaster UK Ltd
TicketWeb (UK) Ltd
London Theatre Direct
Albemarle of London Ltd
The organisations hope to reduce the growing number of complaints from members of the public who have been misled by deals for sold-out events or cheap seats at shows.
Brian Taylor is one of them. He spent more than £120 on three tickets for a West End show, ordered through a website booking service, and was assured he had good seats.
But the agent gave him a restricted view in the aisle - and his family missed the first 20 minutes, because he was given the wrong start time.
The face value of the tickets was just £75.75.
"The theatre told me that this company was one of many companies operating outside the UK and I didn't have a leg to stand on with them," said Mr Taylor.
Star will continue to encourage more businesses to sign up and will update the code of conduct by early 2010.
Consumers' association Which? said anything that made ticket buyers' rights clearer was welcome, but stressed that the code did not protect people against fly-by-night operators.
"You are always going to get someone trying to make a fast buck," said Stephen McGlade, a lawyer with Which? Legal Services.
Whenever anyone buys a ticket, they are entering a contract so it is important to read the terms and conditions to be aware of what rights you have if an event is cancelled or the tickets fail to arrive.
Many cases of loss have happened when people trying to get refunds are unable to contact the seller - often online - because they have disappeared.
There are opportunities to claim money back from credit or debit card providers if a customer paid by card and tickets failed to arrive.
A separate code of conduct is also in place which covers businesses that sell-on tickets to entertainment and sporting events.
The code, run by the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents, says that consumers must be dealt with fairly, and businesses have a robust complaints procedure and refunds policy in place.
A selection of your comments:
I think Ticketmaster should clean up their own act before they should be allowed to sign up to this scheme. I recently purchased tickets through Ticketmaster for an event that was cancelled. Ticketmaster phoned and offered free tickets in exchange for a different date. I took their offer of tickets for a different date only to find out later that they had also taken out a further £70 from my account without my permission. According to Ticketmaster its in their terms and conditions that they can do this......?
Adam Davies, Wales
My boyfriend went on Hyde park ticket office for tickets to see the killers in june but no tickets turned up, emailed then a few times, now the web site no longer exists. the money came out his bank more or less straight away. no one has contacted him in regards to his emails so we believe we were conned.
Lisa Duncan, Portsmouth, England
I have had 3 instances of being let down by ticket sales on the Internet. Last year I paid £900 for 4 Leeds festival tickets only to receive an email 1 week before the event to be told that the tickets would not be arriving as the ticket seller (tickets2bthere) could not produce them and subsequently they went out of business, on this occasion I received a full refund as the tickets were bought with my credit card. Only myself and one friend decided to try and get tickets for the Leeds Festival following this incident and so we purchased 2 from ebay, unfortunately the guy selling them who assured me that he had the tickets in his possession and was ready to send them was lying and he was let down by his supplier, but again we got our money back. My most recent problem with a ticket seller is ongoing. I purchased 2 tickets last November to see the Kings of Leon in June this year from Seatwave, my friend also bought 2 tickets but from Ticketmaster and whereas her tickets arrived 14 days later my tickets never arrived. Seatwave guarantee on their website to deliver tickets at least 24 hours before an event, but by the Thursday, which was 2 working days before the concert on the Monday I still didn't have the tickets. When I called Seatwave they assured me that the tickets would be with me on the Friday - they didn't arrive - according to an email from the delivery service the tickets arrived at my place of work on the Monday afternoon at 13:00, but as I was out of the office for work I was not there to sign for them and I have not seen the tickets since! I contacted Seatwave to complain and ask for a refund as I do not believe they held up their guarantee to deliver tickets in plenty of time and especially when the tickets were bought in November the previous year and my friend had her tickets 14 days later, but I am still waiting to be contacted. I would tell people to use ticket sites like Ticketmaster, Aloud and See, but I understand the urge to use less well know sites when it is an event that you really want to go to, but I will not be using anyone other than these sites in the future.
Martine Jagger, Brighouse, England
Great article. These scams have been on the increase and I am of the opinion that that has been helped by the lack of reporting on them in the media. I spent £300 on exciteticket.com for tickets to Bruce Springsteen in Hyde Park. When no tickets turned up and the company website and email was no longer recognised initial fears were confirmed. I bought 4 tickets; 2 for my girlfriends birthday and 2 for my parents - to mark my dad's 50th with the chance of finally seeing his favourite artist perform. My whole family was saddened and sickened by this. The police, and I quote, "will not be investigating it as the fraud under £5000". Stupidly i paid on debit card too so not insured. Quite frankly the more of these code of conduct schemes out there the better. These scams, amongst many others, are too easily set up and passed off in comment with most thinking it won't happen to them etc. But not only does this devastate the victims but it damages the internet market in general. Personally it was more the fact my dad, being a lifelong fan, missed the chance to see the event as opposed to losing the money. Well done STAR!