/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Want to sell your unwanted Olympic tickets? Good luck

If you’ve won more Olympic tickets than you need, can you sell them on eBay? No. You’ll have to wait until the official resale site is up next year. Meanwhile, the interest could soon start draining from your account.

Will you win the Olympic Games tickets you wanted or none? Maybe you’ll unexpectedly win everything and get plunged into overdraft or breach your credit card limit? Worryingly, you won’t have a chance to resell them until next year…

When I first raised my doubts about the London 2012 Olympic ticketing system, Which? Convo reader Nate commented that the system might be worthy of a super-complaint.

Commenter Gary questioned whether the ticketing system actually deprived him of his consumer rights. He argued that the seven-day cooling off period doesn’t apply:

‘This would normally apply from the point when my order is accepted, in this case presumably from when I’m charged. But if I’m allocated surplus tickets, I can’t cancel them within seven days, as I don’t find out what they are until a month later!’

A peculiar ticketing system

It still seems bizarre to me that applications closed on 26 April, the money will be disappearing from your account anytime from 10 May, which is before you find out exactly which tickets you’ve won (on 24 June)!

And at the time of writing this, I can’t find any further details about the ticket resale site that’s apparently due to go live in 2012.

You see, you won’t be able to sell your unwanted tickets on eBay, and this will be enforced vigorously by the Olympic’s committee. The maximum fine for selling tickets on the black market has even increased from £5,000 to £20,000!

So the only way to sell your unwanted tickets is to wait for the official resale site to launch in 2012. In the meantime, there could be hundreds of thousands of us stuck with tickets that we don’t know how to, or even whether we can, resell.

Assuming even a fraction of us have put the purchase on our credit cards, or have gone into overdraft to pay for the tickets, that’s a lot of interest being paid.

An Olympic pig in a poke

I’m not absolving consumers of all responsibility in the matter – there is a strong argument to say that we should only have applied for the tickets we can actually afford.

Then again, this may well be the only chance in our lifetimes to buy tickets for a UK-hosted Olympic Games. So I’m not sure about you, but I feel like I’m being forced into taking a gamble with my finances or risk missing out on the Games altogether.

Not only am I buying an expensive pig in a poke, but I have no idea if, when or how I’ll be able to sell the pig. That is if the Olympic organisers decide I’m allowed a pig at all…

Peter H says:
6 May 2011

The ticketing arrangements are a disgrace and while we were all aware of the process and its faults we were faced with acceptance or missing the games altogether. No other business would be allowed to run a sale process like this so what sets the Olympic organisers above the rest of the population? Either the re-sale site should be brought on line at the same time as tickets are allocated or we should be free to sell them wherever and to whom we like.

Jim W says:
6 May 2011

I agree with Peter H on this to a certain extent. But whatever ticketing system had been devised was going to be criticised by some. However…

Most applicaants will have gone for more than they really want, since there are no guarantees – you are almost obliged to over-commit on your requirements.

For those who have chosen their to apply within their affordability limits, then any loss of interest in the current clime is minimal, so isn’t a consideration.
However what is lost is “opportunity cost” while waiting for the re-sale site. This is the bit that most concerns me – if the value of my holding went up while I waited (i.e. I could see demand and hence price increasing during that period) it might make sense.

You can’t help thinking that the consideration has not been the individuals, but the PR value of saying “we sold 60% on initial release” which wouldn’t have happened if the resale site was available tomorrow – people would have waited…

So: nice win for the marketing spin doctors.

For those who have gone into debt – and as above, some will have been forced by the policy to do so – it is a very different story.

The Organisers can recover still, and bring the resale site on line sooner than curently scheduled – that would alleviate some of the criticism. But it still smacks of less than consumer friendly.

Rob W says:
6 May 2011

I don’t understand why people are complaining this. The ticket appliaction process isn’t much different to other major sporting events, e.g. rugby world cup, football world cup. I entered a ballot to see England matches at the World Cup held in Germany and wasn’t successful. I didn’t whinge or moan. That was the process I missed out and so that was that. The only difference here is that I could be charged a range of prices as I’ve specified a lower and upper limit. I have applied only for what I can afford as I don’t see the point in gambling what I cannot afford. If I get no tickets then too bad I’m not going to moan about it. If I get all the tickets, then great I know I can afford it.

Adam says:
15 June 2012

I totally agree! I have yet to get Wimbledon tickets by ballot and concert tickets are nigh on impossible to get decent seats. So this is just like every other ticket sales system.

William Booth says:
6 May 2011

I too have applied for tickets particulary in the knockout stages of the team events not knowing when the nation I wish to support is playing
If we are not allowed to sell our tickets then surely we wil be able to swap them to get to see the match we want

Chris D says:
6 May 2011

I hope this delay in a secondary market has a positive effect… all too often you cannot get tickets to the best events as individuals know they will sell out and hence, if lucky in getting their tickets, can make a very quick return on their investment. At least with this approach there will (hopefully) be a reduction in those who apply having no intention of attending anything and having to have their cash or credit funds tied up for a few months

Kris B says:
29 May 2011

Couldn’t agree more!
Our family have genuine interest in the three sports we applied for: Sailing, gymnastics and athletics. Out of the 7 days we applied for we were only successful in getting tickets for 1 day of sailing (which we can watch without tickets from the Portland headland…).
I do hope all those greedy (not interested at all in any the event at all – but wanted to make some money from resselling their tickets) have got all the tickets they applied for and will have their money tied up for months before they can resell them!
If this is you SHAME ON YOU!

Heather says:
7 May 2011

I think it was really difficult.I can’t afford the big ticket prices. I had to ask for heat tickets and you don’t even know if the GB team are going to be in those heats. So I will probably be left trying to sell them. Perhaps an all country “swop shop” for heats is needed.


Today was meant to be the day that money would start being taken from successful 2012 ticket applicants’ accounts. But due to so many events being oversubscribed, Olympic organisers have said that no money will be taken until next Monday at the earliest. 20 million tickets have been applied for, but there are only 6.6 million available…

So good luck, and make sure to put enough money in your account!