/ 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.

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!


Mark Exley says:
11 May 2011

If people did not have any intention of going to the events they should not have applied for tickets. It is a classic case of people jumping on the bandwagon and wanting to go to an event that they have no knowledge or interest in, therefore depriving genuine supporters of the chance to witness the only such event happening here in their lifetime.

i have no sympathy for anyone who ends up with unwanted tickets.

MikC says:
12 May 2011

Q1 If I am lucky and allocated the cheaper aged related tickets (being over 65), but then find I’m unable to attend, will I be able to pass them on to my 30 year old daughter – or some gate keeper say ” You don’t look old enough luv, no entry!”.
Q2 I understand there will be public screens within the Olympic Park – like a Henman Hill – will there be free access to the park?
Q3 Security for visitors is at present even tighter than going air side at an airport, will this be the same during the games?

Boris Johnson has admitted that the Olympic ticketing system was a “bit peculiar” in that money would be taken from bank accounts before people actually discover what events they’ve secured tickets for. Agreed. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard-olympics/article-23950844-boris-johnson-agrees-that-olympic-ticket-system-is-an-oddity.do

Has anybody been charged for tickets yet?

Jimah says:
30 May 2011

Checked my bank a/c today I am very disappointed to see that out of the 22 tickets to 10 events (mostly preliminary rounds) I have only been allocated 2 tickets to a football match at Wembley, so I won’t even get to go to the Olympic Park. As I received part of my order I will not have access to any unsold tickets in the first 2 weeks of general release (only those that were TOTALLY unsuccessful will be able to pick & choose from what’s left in that period). Now I am way down in the pecking order from those that only applied for the big tickets Opening ceremony/sprint finals etc. I feel very let down by LOCOG who should have advised in advance that applying for tickets to an obscure football match in a half empty Wembley could prevent me from taking part in the Olympics proper.

I applied for, but did not receive any tickets. A friend now has tickets for an event which she cannot attend. How can she transfer them to me?

MikC says:
10 August 2011

Insult to injury?
I have just had an e-mail from London 2012 Ticketing which ends “As a Front row subscriber we’ll make sure you’re among the first to see them”. “Them”, being details of the Para Olympics. I got 0 tickets despite an application for 20+ spread over several events and venues. Perhaps my mistake was the application was at the pensioner rate. Did 2012 Ticketing decide to go for profit and sold the seats at the full price? Perhaps some statistics on the number of discounted seats sold is in order?

Yes, I got that email too… it sadly got me a bit excited. However, I am interested in the Paralympics. I’m not sure about your latter question, but most missed out anyway.

MikC says:
10 August 2011

Most did fail to get tickets and are very upset.
Regarding “Did 2012 Ticketing decide to go for profit….” Some of the seats were marked as ‘Special Prices in this category’. It would be interesting to know how many were sold for the Special Price or were they sold at the full price – because that (obviously) brings in more money, to the detriment of the under 16’s and the over 60’s. Sport is all about fair play and the ticket sales should be as well. Are the Olympics entertainment or just a money making venture?

Ian Griffin says:
25 September 2011

There is an internet site called swapmyolympicticket.co.uk members can swap their tickets between each other for free. Excellent idea.

Regarding swapmyolympicticket – I’ve not looked at the site BUT is it Official? -‘cos if it aint, then I bet the Olympic Organisers will put an end to it!! 🙁

stevecf says:
30 September 2011

Anyone know if the organisers bowed to pressure and are planning to bring the resale site in early?

Paulo says:
16 January 2012

Seems like the 1% got together to devise yet another way to con the public out of their money. This isn’t sport, the whole system is a disgrace!

I have colleagues whose companies have been involved in several Olympics.
After the Brisbane and Athens games, I was told that this is one of the most corrupt events on the planet, not the games themselves, but everything around them, from the bidding process to the stadium, to the choosing of sponsors.
I always thought they were exaggerating as the stories I heard seemed too farcical to be true, and I believed, that the public would not stand for some of the schemes and downright villainy I was hearing about.
I stand corrected, and am truly gobsmacked at some of the shenanigans we have seen already taking place.
The ticket allocation and sale procedures are truly amazing in conception, designed to give the impression of fair distribution whilst reserving the majority of premium tickets for various companies to make large profits on, either by selling as part of a package or using as promotional prizes.

We the public, are being mugged off, mugged and laughed at by these sharks, how I wish we as a nation had the balls to return all the tickets we have been allowed to ‘buy’ and say no thank you, we will stay at home and watch it on TV.

Any wonder nearly 50% of those surveyed have expressed disappointment, its not with the games, its the crap that comes with them…….

MikC says:
15 June 2012

Got my 2012 Games Train tickets this week, nice and cheap. But the shine came off when I found they had come by 2nd Class post – when I was charged £1.50 for 1st Class post? !!!

Charlotte says:
31 July 2012

Hi there!

I have been offered 2x tickets to Water Polo this week by an old friend who cannot go. Am I allowed to buy them off of him? Will we be ID’d upon entry and turned away if our names don’t match on the tickets?