How to be a savvy consumer when buying tickets for an event

How to be a savvy consumer when buying tickets for an event
Tickets Cleveland 19 Looked at Tuesday

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The back of a ticket to gain entry from everything to an ice show to a professional baseball game usually contains fine print that constitutes a contract between the buyer and the seller.

Cleveland 19 looked at the back of many different tickets from many different facilities in the area on Tuesday to see what that fine print means.

On the back of tickets to many events, there were a few things that each seemed to have in common.

Each usually had provisions that said there were to be no refunds or exchanges, each ticket usually outlined a search policy of some sort. Each ticket also usually said that the facility or team can use the image of whoever purchases a ticket and goes to an event -- without paying that person anything. Basically the image of someone cheering in the crowd can be used to promote the facility.

Several tickets also specifically say the bearer realizes he or she may be injured or even killed at the event -- they also usually say the buyer will take responsibility for any injury and not hold the facility or team responsible.

Christian Patno, an attorney with the firm of McCarthy and Lebit, told Cleveland 19 that the back of a ticket is a contract but it's not an iron clad one.

“Smart businesses that have attorneys know to put these on the back of tickets to deter legal claims,” said Patno. “When you have smaller claims - your car got pinged or you lost something somewhere - people usually don't pursue that, and the property owners know that with these tickets it's good business because they deter those claims. But, if someone is seriously insured or there's a major economic damage that justifies getting lawyers involved, that's where these get challenged.” 
He said all contracts are enforceable “to a degree,” but said that those on the back of tickets generally are “not favored” even though they are legal. 
He said that there are many things that go into determining how enforceable something is.
He looked at the fine print on several different things – everything from event tickets to parking stubs – and showed Cleveland 19 some of the differences. 
Patno pointed to things like the size of the print and the location – if it’s on the front or back of a ticket. 
“Just because it’s on the back of a ticket doesn't mean that it's the law. The only one who determines if that's indeed a law is the judge at the end of the day,” said Patno. 
Patno said a consumer also does have the right to make changes to a contract he or she is entering.
“You can do things [like cross things out or write I don’t agree] because it's a contract. If they don't allow you to modify the contract, then you've got an argument with a judge that it was an adhesion contract, because it was forced on you,” said Patno. 

So what are some things to keep in mind?

According to the Ohio Attorney General's office, you should keep a few things in mind before buying any ticket:

•             Research sellers carefully. Check for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and Better Business Bureau. Read online reviews to gather additional information. Talk to other people who have done business with the seller. Determine how the seller addresses consumer complaints. For example, does the seller respond to consumer complaints, or does it ignore them? Be careful when you're dealing with third-party individuals who are not associated with an event.

•             Check return/cancellation policies. Find out whether you can return the ticket and under what conditions (if any) you can receive a refund. Also find out what would happen if the event is canceled.

•             Understand the venue's ticket policies. Find out how tickets are being sold for a specific event, and understand which kind of tickets will be accepted at the event. Increasingly, a number of venues and events primarily use electronic tickets. If you're trying to buy a paper ticket (especially from an individual or third-party seller), take steps to make sure it's real. Inspect both sides of the ticket, and be aware that some ticket scammers create counterfeit tickets that look legitimate even though they are not.

•             Read the fine print. Learn about the terms and conditions that apply to the ticket. For example, determine whether you will need to present your credit card or other verification at the event to gain entry. If you are buying tickets for other individuals, find out whether you can transfer the tickets to them.

•             Use secure websites to enter payment information. Before entering your credit card number or other personal information online, make sure the web address reads "https" rather than "http." The "s" stands for secure, meaning the information will be encrypted and less likely to be hacked by scammers.

•             Consider paying with a credit card. If a problem arises, you generally have greater ability to dispute credit card charges versus other forms of payment. Be skeptical of sellers who say you must pay via wire transfer, prepaid money card, or gift card. Once payment is provided using one of these methods, it is very difficult to dispute or recover.

•             Be skeptical of offers that are too good to be true. Sellers on Craigslist or other sites may offer tickets at face value (or below) for events that are sold out or highly in demand, but the offers may be scams. Some scammers also provide phony explanations for why they need to sell tickets quickly for a good price. For example, they may falsely claim to have a family emergency or to be a deployed military member.

•             Be cautious when buying from individuals. Some individuals who offer tickets for sale are scam artists. To help protect yourself, conduct an online search using the seller's name, username, email address, or phone number along with words like "reviews," "scam," "fake tickets," or "counterfeit tickets." Even if you find no complaints, don't assume the seller is reputable. Some con artists use fake names or bogus contact information.

•             Report potential scams. Report scams to the Ohio Attorney General's Office and flag suspicious posts online. Suspicious Craigslist ads can be reported to the Ohio Attorney General's Office directly from Craigslist. If you think you've sent money to a scam artist, immediately contact the payment system you used. For example if you wired the money, contact the wire-transfer company. In rare cases, payment can be stopped before it's picked up in a scam.

If you have a problem you can't resolve on your own, or if you want to report a potential scam, contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at or 800-282-0515.

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