St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 6, 2012 – With the Cardinals qualifying for their third postseason appearance in the last four years, fans need to be alert to scammers selling bogus tickets or hotel reservations, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises.
The opportunity for sports fans to be scammed by fake ticket sellers occurs most often when people buy tickets from individuals outside the stadium, on the street or through online auctions, classified ads and bulletin boards.
“Sports fans can get burned by purchasing counterfeit tickets or paying in advance for tickets that never arrive,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “Hotel scams may involve invalid reservations or rooms advertised as close to the ballpark that either don’t exist or are nowhere near downtown.”
The secondary market for sporting and entertainment tickets is a $10 billion a year industry. It includes tickets bought and sold by professional brokers as well as those purchased and resold by speculators and season ticket holders. Tickets purchased for sports and entertainment events are the source of hundreds of BBB complaints by consumers nationwide.
“The Internet has become the arena of choice for sports fans looking to buy or sell tickets,” Corey said. “Unfortunately, it also has become a breeding ground for scammers.”
The BBB’s database of BBB Business Reviews includes reputable, secondary market ticket firms that provide buyer protections, including money-back guarantees if tickets are fake. On some sites, sellers also must provide credit-card numbers so the site can charge a seller’s card for the cost of replacement tickets if they sell fake tickets. The Cardinals have their own website for reselling tickets held by season ticket holders.
“Sports fans may be anxious to get a hotel room near the ballpark, without weighing the cost or the possibility that the advertised room doesn’t exist,” Corey said. “Scammers may advertise low prices – or they may charge a premium by claiming that the hotel is close to the ballpark when it isn’t. Others may offer tickets with the hotel room, but you have little or no way of verifying whether the tickets are real.”
The BBB advises fans to ask lots of questions and be wary of an offer that requires wiring money. When you send money by wire, it is almost impossible to get it back or to trace the recipient, who may be overseas.
The following are some BBB tips for finding housing for the playoffs or other events:
- Read any ads carefully, making sure you understand what is being offered and what the total price will be.
- Ask the seller where he or she is located and how he or she may be contacted after the sale. If the seller is evasive, don’t pursue the offer.
- Ask for the name, address and phone number of the hotel where the room is located, and call the hotel to verify that the room actually exists. Check the hotel’s website or a well-known travel site to be sure that the location is convenient for getting to and from the ballpark.
- Be wary of ads that pile on incentives to make the package look better. Often the items – such as lanyards, T-shirts or other trinkets – have limited value.
- Use a credit card to make your reservation. A credit card company can assist you with obtaining a refund if the offer turns out to be fraudulent or if there are other problems with the accommodation.
- Do your research. A variety of travel guidebooks and online reviews address services and amenities at hotels and motels. Check BBB Business Reviews of hotels by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
- Make sure you get a confirmation number from the business when reserving a room. Also, make sure you know times of check-in and check-out, and clearly understand the type of room you are paying for (smoking or nonsmoking, queen or double beds, regular room or suite, etc.)
- If you have any concern about the quality of a motel or hotel, ask to inspect your room before moving in. You have a better chance to get satisfaction from staff or management if you have not already accepted your room. If you spot a problem, report it to the front desk immediately.
About the BBB
The BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.
Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle L. Corey, President and CEO, (314) 645-0606, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, (314) 584-6743 or (314) 681-4719 (cell), email@example.com