Shopping for summer concert tickets? Here's how not to get ripped off

Photo (c) Skynesher - Getty Images

There is no “ideal” time to buy, one exec says

Ticketing for the summer concert season is starting to turn up the volume.

With 1980s acts like Madonna and Duran Duran returning to the stage, Beyonce cashing in on her Grammy haul, and Guns ‘n Roses trying to wrap up a three-year tour, music fans are biting at the bit to be part of the scene.

Problem is, ticket prices have never been higher. When ConsumerAffairs looked at StubHub, Ticketmaster, and other ticket platforms, people were asking as much as $134 for nosebleed tickets to see Beyonce, and anyone who wants to be down front to see Springsteen is looking at a price tag of more than $450 a seat.

And that’s now – in March. As summer dates get closer, it’s a toss-up as to prices.

Artists whose tours aren’t the money machine they thought they’d be might be cutting prices and artists who are hot could see third-party sellers jacking their ticket prices way up.

There’s also the problem of trust. After Ticketmaster was called in before Congress for botching ticketing for Taylor Swift’s tour, music lovers have a right to be skeptical and concerned, especially about the new wave of “dynamic pricing.”

Until this mess gets corrected, consumers have to take care of themselves

For the moment, ticket prices aren’t coming down and those exorbitant fees aren’t walking off the stage, either. But when the main concert promoter or venue’s tickets are sold out and the only way to buy one is the secondary market, ticket buyers need to protect themselves.

ConsumerAffairs went straight to several secondary ticketing companies to get their best suggestions for a positive experience and here’s what we found. 

Don’t pay cash and never, ever buy tickets on social media! VividSeats’ Julia Young said that doing business that way leaves a ticket buyer without any protection. “More importantly, check for Third Party Confirmation and make sure the site is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB),” she said.

If a site says you have to enter your credit card information to see the price of a ticket, get out of there! “If a site doesn’t want to show you either an all-in price from the start inclusive of service and other fees, or at least have a toggle to allow you to view the ticket price with estimated fees included, that’s a sign that they don’t want you to be able to comparison shop with competing marketplaces,” Sean Burns at TicketNetwork advises. “That strategy signifies they are betting on the fact that you are committed to purchasing from them by the time you see the final price, even if it’s higher than the same tickets elsewhere.”

There is no “ideal” time to buy. Brett Goldberg, co-founder and co-CEO of 11-year-old TickPick, told ConsumerAffairs that like everything else, there’s an algorithm at play in the event ticket world and there are several factors that go into the "best time" to buy. For instance, the number of tickets available, the matchup, day of week, etc. all play a factor in the price.

“If you are comfortable with the price point, then we encourage you to purchase the tickets. If you wait until the last minute then it is encouraged that you are in a location with good internet connection to ensure you receive your tickets asap if the event is quickly approaching,” he said.

Goldberg also suggests trying to look on both a ticket seller’s website and its app because sometimes the percentage of service fees can differ on the same marketplace depending on which one you’re on.

Read reviews. Not all ticket buyers have the same experiences with ticket sellers. At ConsumerAffairs, some sellers get 5-star reviews, some get 1-star. If you’re considering using a certain company, it would be smart to see what other consumers think of them. If there’s a consistent problem with customer service, then you may be better off somewhere else. 

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