Sue Chetwin: Ticket resellers under spotlight
OPINION: "Adele sells out three shows in record-breaking time."
"Queens of The Stone Age - SOLD OUT."
Headlines like these are becoming increasingly common as tickets to big acts in New Zealand sell out faster than you can say Justin Bieber, leaving hordes of disappointed fans.
Within minutes of selling out, tickets appear on resale sites such as Ticketmaster Resale and Viagogo.
Fans who missed out jump at the chance to get tickets, but what many don't realise is the tickets on these sites, which can be sold for hugely inflated prices, may not actually get you into the event. Steep fees added to the already-high ticket price make the pain on your wallet more acute.
One fan recently bought tickets on Viagogo to an Adele concert in Auckland. She paid A$2499 ($2725) for four tickets but on receiving confirmation of her purchase, she was astonished to find the tickets originally sold for only $245 each.
To add insult to injury, she was charged an A$499 ($544) booking fee.
Reseller sites use pressure tactics to clinch the sale. Ticket buyers are bombarded with messages like "163 other people are viewing this event", "Tickets are likely to sell out soon" and "Less than 1 per cent of tickets left for this event".
Frantic fans hit "buy now", not wanting to miss out. We've heard of tickets being sold for up to 20 times their face value, adults being sold children's tickets and fans with fake tickets being turned away at the gate.
One rugby fan told us she bought two tickets on Viagogo to a Blues versus Crusaders game. The tickets cost $49 each and she was charged an extra $39 in fees. At the end of the booking process, she received an email containing the two tickets but they turned out to be children's tickets with a face value of $16.50 each.
An Andre Rieu fan who bought three tickets on Viagogo last year to the singer's Christchurch concert paid A$951 ($1022) for tickets with a face value of $200 each and was also stung by an A$205 ($224) booking fee.
In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority is investigating the practices of ticket resellers.
We think there's also a problem with resellers operating in New Zealand. This is why Consumer NZ is joining Australian watchdog Choice and Which?, the consumer organisation in the UK, to investigate complaints in the ticket reseller market.
If you've bought a ticket from a ticket resale site, we'd like to hear about it. You can help us expose the ticket touts' tactics by completing our online survey at consumer.org.nz.
* Sue Chetwin is chief executive of Consumer NZ