YONKERS, N.Y., June 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Scoring seats for summer's hottest events can be tough. The box offices often sell out quickly forcing fans to buy through online ticket resellers where they can pay hundreds, even thousands, above face value. Consumer Reports' August issue tells how to score big in the must-have ticket game. Ticket reselling sounds a lot like scalping, but changes in legislation have allowed for big companies to get in the game. StubHub, TicketsNow, RazorGator, TicketLiquidator and TicketExchange are among the better-known sites in a growing, $2.6 billion online business that is projected to nearly double by 2012, according to Forrester Research. "If you know how the system works, buying through a reseller can get you access to seats that are otherwise unavailable, but it can be a tricky game. If you don't know what to expect it can leave you feeling ripped off," said Tod Marks, senior editor at Consumer Reports. Resellers don't set prices, and they don't buy or own tickets. Rather, they provide a trading post for fans seeking to sell unneeded tickets and professional brokers looking to make a killing on tickets bought on speculation. The access to the tickets these sites can offer usually come at high prices, but sometimes savvy shoppers can score a discount. Like airlines and hotels, resellers typically follow a real-time price model based on demand. For a Yankees-Indians game, Consumer Reports shoppers found first-row seats in the upper-deck behind home plate for $22 less than face value, a week before the game -- possibly because the Yankees were in a slump. Waiting until the last minute can be risky, but may have its rewards. Consumer Reports had two reporters shopping for tickets a month in advance of two events on May 20: a Yankees-Orioles baseball game in New York, and a Santana concert in San Francisco. Prices varied for both events over the next four weeks, but an eager fan could score a deal on the day of the show. For the Santana concert, waiting inline at the box office up to a half-hour before the show netted a few lucky fans a ticket for $92.00 -- a mere $2.50 more than original face value. A similar ticket would have cost as much as $232 three weeks earlier at StubHub. Hunting on your own Buying through a reseller may seem unavoidable, but diehard fans do have other options to score hard-to-get seats and avoid overpaying. Before turning to resellers, CR recommends the following:
-- Watch for notice of event presales. Presales let some fans buy tickets before they're offered to the general public. (Sometimes there's a discount, too.) Presales typically require a password that might be sent in an e-mail by the venue, artist, team, or promoter, or by Ticketmaster if you've used it in the past. You can also get in on presales by joining an artist's fan club, and get alerts and passwords by paying a fee to PresalePassword.net or Presalenow.com. -- Look for credit-card promotions. American Express, Visa Signature, and MasterCard offer some of their cardholders first dibs, preferred seats, and discounts to events such as "The Lion King" on Broadway and the U.S. Open tennis tournament. -- Start at the box office. It may sound obvious, but it's the one place that lets you avoid fees and pay face value if you can get there in person. If you're looking to deal online with a team or box office, find the official site. For example, an Internet search for "L.A. Lakers tickets" could lead you to unregulated sites that may rip you off. -- Keep checking for availability. If Ticketmaster.com is your best option, keep checking for tickets even if the event seems sold out. Customers have a few minutes to decide whether to buy the tickets they've clicked on. During that time, those tickets are locked up, but if the shoppers decide not to buy, the tickets become available again to other fans. Shopping Online Ticket Resellers If you choose to use a reseller, or it appears to be the only way to find that must have, hard-to-find ticket, CR found there still may be an opportunity to find a deal, but remember the following:
-- Know the market. You're apt to get a slightly better deal on team sporting events than on a Broadway show. There are bigger arenas and more dates to choose from and season ticket holders who can't make it to every game. It's easier to score tickets to a game involving teams with losing records. And tickets to preseason NFL games are usually plentiful. -- Consider the venue. Ticket prices are generally a bit lower for shows in large arenas and outside of major cities. -- Pick the right time. Try weekdays and matinees. Avoid holidays. A good time to buy concert tickets is just after a performer has added extra tour dates. -- Track prices. Check for tickets as soon as you decide to attend the event, visit several reseller sites over time. CR's reporters found that prices can fluctuate. -- Be patient. Some tickets to Super Bowl XLII dropped to $1,000 on game day. Tickets become worthless after the event begins, so sellers become increasingly eager. Resellers might have so many tickets that you can wait to buy until the day of the event, if e-ticketing or on-site pickup are options. For the complete report on online ticket resellers and more helpful tips and advice to finding hard-to-find tickets, check out the August issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands July 1, 2008 or visit www.ConsumerReports.org. August 2008 (C) Consumers Union 2008. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.
SOURCE Consumer Reports