Hoping to score affordable seats to a concert, play or sporting event? Good luck. Unscrupulous brokers are sending prices through the roof.
Consumer Reports offers these tips on how not to get fleeced.
Shop at the source
The ideal way to get a good seat at a fair price is through the venue box office or the official ticket seller, which, for 80 percent of all live-event seating, is Ticketmaster. These strategies will better your chances with both:
• Take advantage of presales. Presales allow select consumers (such as members of a fan club or people who carry a certain credit card) to buy tickets — usually by using a special password on the ticket sales website — before they're offered to the general public.
You can also get passwords and alerts to presales free of charge at ticketcrusader.com or by paying a small fee at presalepasswordinfo.com. Watch for credit card promotions, too. American Express, Visa Signature and MasterCard offer some cardholders first dibs, preferred seats and unique access, plus discounts to various events.
• Create an account with Ticketmaster. You can register to receive information on upcoming events and ticket sales for your favorite performers, teams and shows. It can also save you precious minutes when a sale starts by freeing you from having to enter login and payment information, Consumer Reports says, during which time bots and more savvy fans can swoop in and grab your seats. Ticketmaster also has a free iPhone and Android app that provides notification about every presale and breaking news about added shows.
• Consider visiting the box office. Tickets purchased at the box office may come with fewer fees, such as processing and delivery charges.
• Shop familiar websites. Go only to established online sources, such as the venue's official website. Be aware of lookalike sites that fraudsters create to sell bogus tickets.
• Buy fewer seats. The more tickets you want, the lower your chances of success — especially if you're buying for a large group and want to sit together. Consider sitting apart from your companions: The odds of landing a great solo seat are often better.
Buying from a reseller
Stick to the major players. In addition to StubHub and TicketsNow, established resellers include Razorgator, Vivid Seats and ScoreBig, which all offer money-back guarantees in the unlikely event a ticket is a counterfeit. (Fake tickets are a potentially bigger problem if you buy from individuals on sites such as eBay or Craigslist.) Consumer Reports notes that you can shop on individual websites or use SeatGeek, a search engine that scours dozens of resale sites. When shopping, you should also:
• Compare prices at different venues. When Bruce Springsteen played in the New York metropolitan area, seats on the market were far cheaper at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, than at either Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, said Will Flaherty, SeatGeek's vice president of growth marketing.
• Remember that it's all in the timing. SeatGeek's Flaherty said that no matter the event, a better deal is likely to emerge the longer you delay your purchase. Optimally, the time to act is within 48 hours of showtime, according to SeatGeek's statistics. "Tickets are perishable goods," Flaherty explained. "On the resale market, the price typically decreases the closer you get to the event, though you might lose some flexibility, like the ability to get five seats together."