Fake festival tickets are on the rise, leaving many fans out of pocket and out in the cold. Here’s how to make sure you don’t fork out for a festival you’ll never get in to.
Your favourite band is headlining a festival so you start scouring the internet for tickets. Within minutes you’re giving your card details to an unknown site and getting excited about the gig.
Just one problem – the tickets never turn up.
What are the odds on being scammed?
This scenario is becoming an increasing problem. According to a report from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), more than 5,000 festival fans were scammed last summer. What’s more, one in 12 of us have bought a ticket that failed to materialise, losing an average of £80 each.
So concerned is OFT that it’s launched a campaign, ‘Just Tick It’, bringing together festival organisers and big music names like Kate Nash and the Lostprophets, to warn gig-goers about online scams.
So far, so good… but hang on, didn’t we hear about this last year? Yes, OFT is running the campaign for a second year to keep awareness going. This year’s fake ticket sales website goes some way to advising consumers on how to protect themselves, with plenty of advice on how scam sites work and warning signs to look for. But it falls short on giving consumers a right to reply.
I smell a fake
The major problem – particularly for festivals – is supply and demand. Scam agencies prey on the fact that people desperately want to go to these events. There’s no doubt this campaign will help highlight the issues, but if we really want to get somewhere, consumers need an outlet to share their horror stories. To us, OFT has missed a trick in improving its campaign by failing to provide a space for consumers to name scam sites and form a dossier of websites to avoid.
But naming and shaming can only be one part of the solution; as soon as a scam site is revealed, another will be created. After all, it’s not hard to set up a well-designed fake website (as OFT’s campaign rightly shows).
So what else can be done? Here at Which? we’ve long been concerned about putting pressure on the official sites and event promoters to improve their services. They need to play fair when it comes to booking fees and extra costs, like postage, to stay competitive and ensure consumers get a fair deal. It’s not hard to publicise official sellers, and yet most are failing to deliver.
Our advice on avoiding scams
Essentially, avoiding scams is about common sense – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This message is echoed in OFT’s advice, but we’d also add these top tips:
- Take a look at the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) website – if the website you’re looking at is on here, then it’s genuine. If it’s not, do more research – it may still be legitimate but you can’t rely on it.
- Don’t wait for the arrival of your ticket if you have concerns – the minute you think it might be a problem, contact us or Consumer Direct to maximise the chance of catching it before the website disappears.
- It’s tempting not to take it any further when you’re victim to a scam, but it’s really important to report the incident. Again, use Consumer Direct as your first point of call.
So, here’s your chance to tell us about your own experiences – both good and bad.