The following survival guide comes from the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (marylandconsumers.org).
1. Read the fine print.
Will Call-only and restricted paperless tickets require customers to appear with photo ID and the credit card used to purchase the tickets. The buyer does not receive a physical ticket stub, which makes it difficult to transfer, resell or gift. Tickets for The Black Keys’ D.C. and Baltimore shows, for example, are non-transferable, and require credit card and identification at the door.
Fans seeing Arcade Fire in D.C. will also need a card and I.D. When buying paperless tickets as a gift, Ticketmaster suggests paying with the recipient’s credit card and reimbursing him or her. The purchaser can also accompany the attendant to the door’s venue with their card and identification.
2. Research pre-sales.
Artists, producers and promoters often pre-sell or holdback large groups of tickets, sometimes leaving just 10 percent available to the general public. Pre-sales and holdbacks are usually offered to premium credit card holders, VIPs, and fan club members.
Joining a fan club is often a free or low-cost way to catch tickets before they sell out. Sometimes box offices also put unsold restricted tickets on sale the morning of the show, although fans risk not getting a ticket at all if they wait that long.
3. Use reliable sellers.
If you have never heard of the vendor or question its legitimacy, check its ratings with the Better Business Bureau. If you’re purchasing from a ticket broker, contact the National Association of Ticket Brokers to ensure membership and adherence to basic consumer
Some fraudulent sellers use phony sites, so double check a venue’s URL has an http for security.
4. Beware of hidden price floors.
When buying resale tickets from secondary sites like StubHub, check multiple sources for the best price. Artists, producers and promoters can set a price floor for resale, and so tickets priced at true market value may not be available.
5. Know the ticket vendor’s refund policy.
Explore a retailer’s website to see if a ticket guarantee is posted. Check to see if the vendor promises to replace incorrect ticket mailings or
will offer a refund for cancelled events or invalid tickets.
6. Check if the price includes additional fees.
Remember that your ticket price may change when you proceed to check out. A ticket retailer may include additional fees for service, processing, convenience, and even printing. Using a credit or debit card at checkout will allow you to dispute unfair or unauthorized charges.
MCRC intern Carolyn M. James developed this ticket guide.