Too Good to Be True?
The festival season is upon us and as every year the most popular events are selling out fast. And like every year illegal tickets touts are making the most out of the desperation of the people who are struggling to get hold of a wristband to see their favourite acts.
The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) and UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) have been contacted by scores of distressed consumers who have paid for non-existent tickets.
Consumer Liz Chowiecnzyk said she was shocked how easy it was to be trapped. She said: ‘I attempted to purchase six tickets for the Reading Festival costing over £1,000 in total. I went on this website and it looked completely official.
‘It was half an hour before the tickets were being released so I thought I was just registering. I realised it was a scam when the purchase went straight through although I knew tickets hadn't been released yet.
‘I should have checked the price as well - they were charging more than the official website. Thankfully I was able to stop the transaction from going through by putting a block on my card.’
Jed Mayatt, UK ECC manager, warned consumers from buying tickets once an event is sold out. He said: ‘A sold out event means it is sold out.
But for some the temptation of a website still offering tickets will be too great, even if it is at inflated prices.
‘In most cases tickets will never be delivered. Attempts to contact the website usually come to nothing - or the consumer is told they will be given the tickets at the event, postponing the inevitable bitter disappointment.’
Mr Mayatt also urged people to check where the trader is based as redress to arising problems will be almost impossible if they are based abroad. He said: ‘Know who you are dealing with. Before you enter your card details check the terms and conditions, and where the head office is.
‘We receive so many complaints from consumers who have been significantly overcharged for tickets that never arrive - and the trader turns out to based abroad. Most of these cases never get resolved.’
Graeme Preston, TSI lead officer for scams, said: ‘The resale of tickets is generally not illegal and the risks can be hard to spot. I would advise consumers to bear in mind the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.’
Mr Preston offered the following pointers to help steer clear from scams and avoid disappointment:
* Contact the event organiser first - they should either be able to supply tickets or direct you to authorised agencies
* Stick to agencies known to be reputable
* If buying online, check the site's credentials - the website should give a name and address of those running it. Even if their e-mail address ends with .uk they may still be based abroad making it more difficult to seek redress in the event of a problem
* Use internet search tools to research an agency that appears to have the tickets that you are after. No news is not necessarily good news
* If buying from an online auction site follow the guidelines that the site offers in protecting your purchase, for example by checking the seller's history
* Make sure that before committing to a purchase you know the full price including the face value of the ticket and any delivery charges, plus the seat location and any obstructions if relevant
* When paying online only use sites which have a secure payment section
* Pay by credit card for anything over £100; if you do not receive your ticket or are otherwise misled you may be able to claim the money back through the credit card company
* Check that individuals can sell the event's tickets on as otherwise even with a legitimate ticket you might be refused entry on the day
* Dealing with street touts is not advised.
For further advice call Consumer Direct on 0845 4040506 or visit their website www.consumerdirect.gov.uk. Northern Ireland residents please ring Consumerline on 0845 600 6262.
If the trader is based abroad call UK ECC on 08456 04 05 03.
For further information please contact Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 608 9430.
Notes to Editors
Trading Standards Institute
Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.
Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.
TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.
They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.
UK European Consumer Centre
The UK European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 29 centres covering Europe including Iceland and Norway. The aim of the network is to provide advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK. The Network will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.
UK ECC can provide advice in the following main areas: buying goods and services, online shopping, internet auctions, holidays, timeshare and holiday clubs, air travel.
UK ECC is co-funded by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and the European Commission.
The Trading Standards Institute hosts the service at their head offices.
Media queries should sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 08456 08 96 06.
Consumer Direct - 08454 04 05 06
Consumer Direct is a Government-backed telephone and online consumer advice service which works in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards. It provides clear, practical and impartial advice and information to help consumers resolve problems and disagreements with suppliers of goods and services. Consumer Direct is available from 0800-1830 Monday to Friday, and 0900-1300 Saturday, excluding bank and public holidays.
Calls cost a maximum of 4 pence per minute from a BT landline. Calls from mobiles or other networks may vary. Your service provider may charge a minimum cost per call. The advice and information given is free.
The press office number is 0207 211 8133.
Consumerline - 0845 600 6262
Consumerline is a telephone and online advice service for Northern Ireland.
Our telephone advisors provide clear and practical advice on a wide range of consumer issues. Where appropriate details of complaints will be forwarded to the Trading Standards Service for investigation.