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Scam Alert

Trading Standards warning about online ticket scams – 08/03/2011

The Trading Standards Service (TSS) is warning music and sports fans not to be conned by the increasing number of sophisticated fake ticketing sites that are appearing online.

In the last six months, TSS has received approximately 50 complaints from consumers who have lost hundreds of pounds after buying tickets from rogue websites.

Recent research from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) reveals that one in 12 ticket buyers have been caught out by scam ticket websites, with victims losing an average of £80 each.

One complainant, Karen Wilson from Lisburn, purchased five tickets online to see Michael Buble in Glasgow. She paid £435 by credit card and was told the tickets would arrive one week before the concert. When they did not arrive, she contacted the company and was assured that a representative would meet her at the venue on the day of the concert.

With flights and hotel booked in advance, Mrs Wilson went along with her friends to the venue but there was no sign of the representative or her tickets so she ended up paying for a concert she never got to see. Thankfully, she was refunded the cost of the tickets by her credit card company.

Kerry McAuley, TSS, said: “In the last year alone, dozens of Northern Ireland consumers have lost money to scam sites, offering tickets for everything from Peter Kay’s recent gig at the Odyssey to Take That concert tickets.

“These sites offer cheap or scarce tickets to a popular event that is sold out or tickets that aren’t even on sale yet. Once consumers have paid, the tickets aren’t delivered, leaving fans disappointed and often hundreds of pounds out of pocket.”

“Event-goers are often told that a customer representative will meet them at the venue on the day but nobody turns up. Attempts to contact the scam companies to complain are often thwarted when telephone calls go unanswered or divert to a different number, or the website has disappeared.”

The Trading Standards Service is backing the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) ‘Just Tick It’ campaign, which urges event-goers to take simple steps to help ensure they are not scammed when buying tickets online.

Check these top tips from Domain Scams to make sure you are buying the real deal:

  • Don’t let them con you. Ask yourself: How can this website guarantee tickets to an event that is already sold out or is not on sale yet?
  • How has the website got the tickets to sell? Check with the venue or promoter to find out when tickets are being released for sale and when the tickets will be sent out.
  • What are others saying about the website? Search the internet to find out what other people’s experiences have been.
  • How can you contact the company? Check that you know their full geographic address and check they have a working landline phone number.
  • Can they provide ticket details? Ensure that the face value of the tickets and the seat location/festival area are clearly listed.
  • Do they provide refunds? Make sure there is a refund policy in case something goes wrong.
  • Pay by credit card – if the goods or services you have bought cost over £100 and you paid by credit card, you may be protected by the Consumer Credit Act. This states that the credit card company is equally liable for any defects. Therefore, should a problem arise, you can claim either from the trader or from the credit card company.

Kerry concluded: “The ‘Just Tick It’ campaign gives ticket buyers the valuable advice they need to help protect themselves from ticket scammers when buying online. Consumers can avoid falling victim in the first place by following the clear and simple advice on how to spot a scam.”

The Trading Standards Service recently ran a month-long Scams Awareness campaign, during which they revealed that Northern Ireland consumers lose millions of pounds every year on bogus lotteries, prize draws and other scams.

More information on how to avoid ticket scams is available on the nidirect website.

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