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Noblesville woman warns of third party ticket resale sites after paying double

Websites may look similar to Ticketmaster
A Noblesville woman is warning others after she inadvertently spent double on concert tickets using a third party resale website.
Posted at 7:51 PM, Feb 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-20 20:44:15-05

NOBLESVILLE — A Noblesville woman is warning others after she inadvertently spent double on concert tickets using a third party resale website.

“I made a mistake,” said Susan Stanley. “People need to be aware.”

Susan Stanley wanted to do something special for her daughter’s birthday.

"It's a milestone birthday but I won't tell you which one,” said Stanley. “She is a huge country fan."

Stanley went online looking for Blake Shelton concert tickets at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 11.

"I just Googled it,” said Stanley. “I was under the impression I was at Ticketmaster. It was showing the cheapest tickets left available was like $60."

Stanley purchased 10 tickets. With fees her total was $1,207.

But when she got her email confirmation, it said she bought the tickets from Tickets-Center.com not Ticketmaster as she intended.

“I thought ‘that is weird,’” said Stanley. “I thought maybe they are a division of Ticketmaster.”

The internet is full of resale marketplace websites that don’t actually own or generate tickets.

Instead, third party ticket sellers like Tickets-Center facilitate transactions between sellers and buyers.

Some of them are prominently featured through ads on Google searches, which makes it easy for buyers to click on the websites.

Susan Stanley did not receive her tickets through Tickets-Center.

In fact, they sent her a message saying her tickets will be available by March 10, one day before the concert.

To get the tickets, she has to create an account using a desktop computer and may need to download an app to view the tickets.

The Tickets-Center message also says Stanley will receive an email when the seller has initiated the ticket transfer.

“A lot of hoops to jump through,” said Stanley.

Stanley got a hold of Tickets-Center.

“They said they offer no refunds, and if you want you can resell the tickets,” said Stanley.

So, she contacted WRTV Investigates for help.

"I had heard about you investigating different consumer issues and I thought, well this is a consumer issue,” said Stanley. “I would like my money back."

WRTV Investigates contacted Tickets-Center about Stanley's concerns, and we received an emailed response.

"We sincerely apologize for any confusion," read the response from Tickets-Center. "However, we at Tickets-Center.com greatly value each of our customers and take pride in providing a safe and secure means of purchasing secondary event tickets online. So, as a one-time courtesy, we would like to offer Mr./Ms. Stanley a full refund for the tickets."

WRTV Investigates also checked their website and found several disclaimers including, "This website is not affiliated with any box office or venue,” and "Tickets are listed by independent resellers.”

The Tickets-Center website also warns, “Prices may be above or below face value."

WRTV Investigates did our own ticket search for Blake Shelton tickets.

Tickets in Section 210, Row 14 were going for $29/seat on Ticketmaster, but Tickets-Center wanted $72/seat.

"You run into situations where the price may be jacked up higher,” said Jennifer Adamany with the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana.

Adamany said buying tickets through a third party comes with a risk.

“You're relying on the sellers to get you the tickets through the broker as opposed to the original entity already having them in hand,” said Adamany. “It puts you at a risk because you may not get the tickets in the end."

The BBB website shows complaints from consumers who inadvertently ended up on Tickets-Center and paid more than necessary.

“The Better Business Bureau has not been able to determine where the company is located,” read an alert on the BBB’s profile for Tickets-Center.

WRTV Investigates also checked with Ticketmaster, which told us they are not affiliated with Tickets-Center and they do not redirect buyers to third party sites.

Ticketmaster does now offer Fan-to-Fan resale tickets.

For years, Ticketmaster has advocated to policymakers to enact industry-wide reforms including banning sites that deceive consumers.

WRTV investigates reached out to the Federal Trade Commission to find out how they're helping ticket buyers.

The FTC says they proposed a rule that would crack down on business impersonators and allow the FTC to recover money from violators.

“The proposed rule will expand the Commission’s toolkit to combat the significant harm caused by government and business impersonation frauds,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We look forward to comments from the public on our efforts to deter fraud, hold impersonators accountable, and secure redress for consumers.”

The FTC is also taking legal action under the "Better Online Ticket Sales Act.”

They sued ticket brokers who used software to illegally buy up thousands of tickets and resold them to fans at higher prices.

Meanwhile, Susan Stanley also filed a dispute with her bank.

"This order currently has a chargeback dispute in progress," read a statement from Tickets-Center to WRTV. "Should the dispute be settled in our favor, we will process the one-time, courtesy refund. The refund should then be processed within the proceeding 20 business days."

"People need to be aware,” said Stanley. “People need to be very cautious when they're online trying to purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or any other website."

She went on Ticketmaster and carefully purchased Blake Shelton tickets for half the price she paid on the resale site.

"I got those tickets the same day," said Stanley.

The Better Business Bureau provided the following tips on buying tickets from resellers and avoiding scams:

  • Look for ticket resellers that protect buyers. Ticket resellers should have a consumer protection policy and/or be registered with the National Association of Ticket Brokers. Most major ticket resellers will typically provide a full refund if the ticket turns out to be a forgery. It’s a service that’s covered by charging a commission on the sale.
  • Buying from a reseller that also sells primary tickets adds a layer of protection. For example, Live Nation or TicketMaster will invalidate the original ticket and create an entirely new bar code for you to use. This ensures you are the only one in possession of the resale ticket.
  • Review the policies before making a purchase. You should only buy tickets from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the terms of the transaction and how you will be refunded if the tickets are fake. Also, if the tickets are not available immediately, the reseller should disclose when the tickets will ship or be available for pick up.
  • Buy tickets with a credit card. Using a credit card helps protect you if the tickets are not as promised. Watch out for resellers who ask for unusual payment methods, such as sending gift cards or wiring money. This is a red flag. Learn more about payment types and how to protect yourself.

Here are tips for getting the best deal on resold tickets:

  • Compare prices. Like with many other purchases, it pays to shop around for tickets. Compare major resellers and look for the best deal. This list of online ticket resellers from Consumer Affairs is a good place to start. Check the business's profile on BBB.org to be sure they are a reputable business.
  • Account for extra fees. Don’t let hidden fees foil your comparison shopping. Be sure that you include fees into your calculations by navigating all the way to the checkout page. Some resellers don’t disclose their fees until you are almost ready to pay.
  • It (probably) pays to wait. Buying tickets within a week of the event, rather than securing a ticket more than a month in advance, will likely get you a lower price. However, this tactic could backfire if the event proves popular enough.