Websites selling tickets for five times face value
CONCERTGOERS can end up paying up to five times the face value of tickets when they purchase from ticket reselling sites -- but there are no legal restrictions on the huge markups charged.
In a modern form of ticket touting, concert tickets are being sold over the internet at huge prices.
And although consumers may be willing to pay above the odds for hard-to-get tickets, websites frequently charge hefty markups on tickets even when they are still available at normal prices.
Tickets for Van Morrison's sold-out gig in the O2 in February are selling for up to €599 on resale sites, even though the original price from Ticketmaster was a maximum of €115.
Irish site needaticket.ie is offering Van Morrison tickets at €150-€170 -- but UK reseller Seatwave has them at €598.85.
Tickets for the Bruce Springsteen concert in the RDS in Dublin on July 18 meanwhile are being offered for €125 on Premier tickets, and €125-€144 on Seatwave even though they are still available from Ticketmaster for €92.10.
Some of the sites are facilitating private sellers and then charge a commission for each sale. However, other sites actively purchase tickets for popular artists as soon as they are released. This has to be done by individuals as Ticketmaster has a number of measures in place to prevent bulk buying.
These include a limit on the number of tickets which can be bought in a single transaction, and a requirement to enter a code which appears on the webpage.
However, consumer watchdogs say there are no legal restrictions on ticket markups as long as websites make it clear in advance what consumers will pay.
The EU Consumer Commission pointed to a crackdown on misleading ticket selling practices which has forced Irish websites to clean up their act in the last year.
Half the ticket-selling websites surveyed in Ireland breached consumer protection laws in a major EU sweep of sites offering concert and sports tickets carried out during 2010.
However, a follow-up survey carried out this autumn revealed all now meet basic requirements such as providing clear pricing information, details of terms and conditions and contact details.
Even so, consumers are still encountering difficulties.
The European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland said it had received 36 complaints about ticket sales this year, most of which related to problems Irish people encountered buying tickets from sites in other countries.
There had been eight complaints from Irish consumers about Irish ticket sellers, most of which related to concerns over handling charges from authorised outlets or the venue itself.
ECC Ireland spokeswoman Caroline Curneen said it expected there would be a flood of scam sites set up throughout Europe in the coming year to try and fleece money out of sports fans seeking tickets for Euro 2012 and the Olympics.
"The key thing people need to check for is how long the site has been in operation because if it's only been around a few weeks that could be to avoid negative feedback, and you really need to be careful you're buying from a legitimate site," she said.
ECC Ireland will be running a campaign to warn people of the dangers and have an online shopping tool, www.ie.theshoppingassistant.com, to help identify suspect sites.