Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 14:42 UK

Q&A: Buying gig tickets online

Hundreds of fans have been stung after paying out for tickets to music festivals and major concerts this summer. But how can you avoid being let down?

Fans at V Festival
The V Festival is among the events that have been targeted by touts

How do I know if I'm buying from an official ticket site?

The best place to start is the official website for the artist, festival or venue. They usually have links to the companies they use to sell tickets on their behalf.

The main official UK music ticket agencies include Ticketmaster (which also owns Ticketweb and Aloud) and See Tickets.

How can I spot an unofficial site?

The unofficial agencies have professional websites, appear high on Google searches, often have a phone number to speak to their staff, and look legitimate.

This makes it very difficult to tell the difference.

If an event is officially sold out, then any sites claiming to have tickets must be unofficial, or secondary, resellers.

Many secondary agents boast that they specialise in sold out shows, as this is where they make the most money.

Also, are they offering tickets for inflated prices? Official sources will always sell tickets at face value, whereas the secondary sites set the price at whatever they think fans will pay.

How reliable are the unofficial agents?

Reselling tickets is legal and many secondary sellers are reliable and deliver tickets. But some aren't, and it is often impossible to tell them apart.

Do some research online and see if other people have complained.

Are there any reliable places to buy tickets for sold out events?

There are some major secondary companies that offer firm guarantees that you will get your tickets - or your money back if not.

These have become semi-official (just to confuse things), with some artists joining forces with them to ensure fans have a reliable source of sought-after tickets.

The main ones are Viagogo (which has hooked up with Madonna), Seatwave (which has done deals with Leonard Cohen and The Enemy) and Getmein (owned by Ticketmaster).

Fans with spare tickets can also sell them through these sites.

There are a couple of other handy search sites like Tixdaq and Tickex, which scan the main sites, from official to unofficial, for available tickets at the best prices.

And an honourable mention goes to Scarlet Mist, which was set up for "ethical ticket swaps" for genuine fans to buy or sell tickets at face value or less.

For major shows, also try contacting the venue a day or two before the first night. They often release a small batch of production seats at the last minute once they have built the stage and know how much spare room they have.

Can I get my money back if I have paid by card but have not received my ticket?

If you paid by credit card and the cost of the tickets was more than 100, then by law the card company should refund you.

Even if "processing charges" took the total cost over the 100 limit, you should still get your money back, if you ask for it.

"We would expect card issuers to regard that as a single transaction over 100," says Sandra Quinn of the banking body Apacs.

What if I paid by debit card?

You do not have the same legal right to a refund - but your bank may still be willing to give you one anyway.

"You might get something if you ask the bank to charge that transaction back to the ticket company - all banks have mechanisms for doing this," Ms Quinn says.

If you paid by cash or cheque, then you have probably lost your money.

What should I do if I have bought tickets from SOS Master Tickets and not received them?

Islington Trading Standards have now had about 300 complaints about SOS Master Tickets.

If you have not complained yet, you should do so by calling Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

You should also tell your local police station if you think you have been the victim of a fraud.

Assuming a liquidator is eventually appointed to wind up the firm, it will be possible to tell if there is any cash or assets left to pay customers - who will be classed as unsecured creditors.

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The economics of ticket touting
18 Apr 07 |  Entertainment

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