Commissioner’s Blog: Buying tickets online

With Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard

Big name concert announcements lately include U2, the Spice Girls and Michael Bublé coming to Perth. In the excitement and rush to get the best tickets for music, entertainment or sport events we know people can accidentally buy from unauthorised sellers that come up first in an internet search*.

Usual consumer rights apply when you buy tickets online – you shouldn’t be misled, costs should not be hidden from you, plus the ticket should match the description given. But two major unauthorised ticket resellers are based overseas, making it hard to apply Australian laws.

Resellers charge a lot more than the face value of a ticket and may indicate limited availability, when in truth the authorised seller has better seats for cheaper. The ACCC has taken action against Viagogo for this sort of conduct and the Court found Viagogo was guilty of misleading consumers by implying it was an official seller, charging extraordinarily high booking fees and falsely claiming tickets were scarce when there were plenty available elsewhere.

In Australia our main authorised ticket sellers are Ticketek and Ticketmaster, so familiarise yourself with the addresses / URLs for their official websites. Have an online account / login ready for these sites, so you don’t panic buy tickets outside official channels. Also, signing up to a band or artist’s fan club, or subscribing to a venue or promoter’s alerts, can give you access to official pre-sales.

Terms and conditions can prevent you getting into an event if you have bought from a ticket reseller. You also risk not getting the tickets you’ve ordered, such as unexpected restricted view, or even a fake ticket or no ticket at all.

Pay by credit card and then if you don’t get what you paid for ask your bank for a chargeback. Be aware if you buy from an unauthorised seller far in advance of an event, your card provider may tell you to wait to see if you receive a ticket before you can claim a chargeback, leaving you in limbo.

For more tips see the ACCC’s guides for consumers buying event tickets at www.accc.gov.au.

In recent years various state and territory governments have introduced specific legislation regulating the reselling of tickets. WA’s proposed new laws (expected to pass late 2019) would cap the re-sale pricing at 10% meaning consumers would only be able to re-sell a ticket at a maximum of 10% above the face value of the ticket. The community would then be encouraged to report any sightings of ticket re-sale prices above the 10% to Consumer Protection.

*on 18 July 2019 Google announced it would be banning Viagogo from top / prime search result position due to years of consumer and artist compaints alleging misleading claims and inflated prices.

David Hillyard outside Perth arena issuing ticket scalping warning
David Hillyard outside Perth arena issuing ticket scalping warning, by CP Media
David Hillyard outside Perth Arena issuing ticket scalping warning

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