Consumer Groups Warn Fans of NCAA Tournament Ticket-Buying Pitfalls

As the NCAA March Madness tournament heats up today, Consumer Action and Fan Freedom warn fans to use caution when purchasing tickets to avoid buying fraudulent or nontransferable tickets.577709 10151795169570830 927411905 n 150x150 Consumer Groups Warn Fans of NCAA Tournament Ticket Buying Pitfalls

“March Madness is always an exciting time for sports fans and thousands will be able to cheer on their team in person. But ticket buyers need to watch closely and make sure they know exactly what they are purchasing and from whom,” said Fan Freedom Consumer Advocate Elizabeth Owen. “The last thing we want to happen is someone getting misled into buying fake tickets, different tickets than were advertised, or tickets that can’t be transferred.”

The NCAA March Madness tournament kicks off Thursday, March 21 when Michigan State takes on Valparaiso at 12:15 p.m.

“We all have the right to purchase tickets to watch and support our favorite teams and we should be able to give away or resell our tickets if our teams do not advance in the tournament,” said Linda Sherry, Director of National Priorities at Consumer Action. “Anti-consumer policies like restricted ticketing strip fans of our freedom to give away, buy, or sell tickets.”

Fan Freedom offers consumers planning to attend the games seven tips to avoid ticket-buying pitfalls:

Use Reliable Sellers: Beware of fly-by-night ticket sellers. If you’re unsure whether a company is legitimate, check its ratings with the Better Business Bureau. If purchasing from a ticket broker, check to see if they are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, whose Code of Ethics requires members to adhere to basic consumer protections.

Check your ticket vendor’s guarantee policy: For example, websites like Stub Hub, TicketsNow, Ace Tickets, All-Shows and members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers guarantee every ticket sold on their sites and will replace them or provide refunds to consumers if they receive the wrong tickets or their tickets are invalid. Craigslist and other online classifieds sites do not offer such guarantees; it’s “buyer beware” when shopping there.

Pay Attention to URLs: When buying tickets directly from a venue, check the website’s URL to ensure that you don’t get duped by an imposter. Remember, even if a website looks like the official site, it may be bogus.

Read the Fine Print: Just because you bought a ticket doesn’t mean you can give it away. Some concerts and sporting events sell restricted paperless tickets, requiring the buyer to show up at the venue and present the purchasing credit card and photo ID. With such tickets, the buyer does not receive a physical ticket and cannot easily transfer these tickets. If your team loses in an earlier round, you would not be able to unload your ticket on a fan whose team advances.

Know the Rules: Some venues limit the number of tickets you can buy. If you’re buying tickets on behalf of friends, make sure you know the maximum number of tickets allotted or your order may be cancelled without notice.

Buy with a Credit Card: Regardless of where you buy tickets, be sure to use a credit card so you can dispute any unfair or unauthorized charges. Before entering your credit card information online, be sure the site has “https://” at the beginning of the website address. This means the site is encrypted and safer for use.

Be prepared to pay additional fees: Unlike airline tickets, which are now required by law to disclose all taxes and additional fees upfront, the ticket price listed at the start of the purchasing process will likely not be your final price.

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About Elizabeth Owen

Elizabeth served as the Director of the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, as a consumer reporter for NewsChannel 5, the CBS affiliate in Nashville and as the Executive Director of the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators for five years. Elizabeth currently works with Fan Freedom, an organization that advocates for the rights of live event fans, as a consumer advocate.