Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

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Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

Postby velvet » Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:24 am

I just wanted to take a moment to address some issues obtaining tickets through scalpers/touts online, especially on eBay (or on other listing places, like Craigslist). Consider this a public service announcement.

I don't support scalping. I don't support buying tickets on eBay, but the sold out concerts can leave people willing to pay any amount to see a show, and it leaves them vulnerable to scams online. I see a large amount of fraud taking place on these sites every day, and people need to know how to protect themselves.

1. eBay has a new security measure to protect bidders' identities and prevent fake "second chance offers". Unfortunately, this new policy is also a breeding ground for shill bidding. Bidders now appear as a***b or some such "masked" identity. Some sellers have a history of using secondary accounts to bid up their auctions. It was easier to detect before, but is much more difficult now. It is far safer to use the "Buy it Now" sales in order to avoid any potential shilling. But if you must bid, keep an eye on the bidders against you (there are statistics that are viewable, i.e. the bidder bids only on this seller's items).

2. Read the seller's feedback before buying anything! Don't just look at a number, look at the comments. You can use http://www.toolhaus.org to weed through all the feedback for a seller and view only the negative, neutral and withdrawn feedback. With high volume sellers, the positives can bury the negatives, so this tool is quite useful. Look for repeated complaints of items not arriving, or failure to communicate etc. Also look at the feedback the seller leaves - do they resort to name calling and retaliatory feedback if a buyer complains?

Never bid on someone with feedback of less than 99%. 95% is good in math class only... not in eBay. If they have less than 99%, they're not a good seller generally.

Look at the types of auctions the seller usually sells. Do they have a lot of feedback for selling tickets or high priced items? They should. Or is their feedback padded with purchases or sales of penny items - recipes and ebooks sold just to pad feedback? If you see this - run! Scammers love this trick. Look for feedback for similar items, and recent feedback. If they sold some used clothes in 2002, and now they're selling tickets and laptops, it's probably a hijacked account.

3. Your bid is binding. Do not bid on multiple items, even if you're outbid. If you bid on auction A, are outbid and bid on auction B while A is still running, you could end up winning both. If another bidder retracts their bid, it leaves you in the hot seat, with a really pissed off seller expecting their money. If you do make this mistake, be courteous and explain to A or B that you were outbid but ended up winning anyway. Offer to send payment for their final value fees so the seller isn't out anything, and they may work with you.

4. Don't fall for fake offers outside of eBay. Avoid auctions that read "e-mail me for Buy it Now" or "e-mail me at ...." Send e-mails through the "ask a question" link in the auction, otherwise you may be sending your information to someone who hijacked the account. If you win the auction, the auction page will clearly state that you are a winner or buyer. Second Chance Offers are for sellers to offer you an item if the high bidder backed out. A legitimate Second Chance Offer (SCO) will be in your eBay messages... do not respond to e-mails offering you the item if it isn't in your messages, and do not click on any links in e-mails that come directly to your mailbox. Scammers use this method frequently and will target many people to do so.

5. There is no "eBay Purchase Protection". eBay is a venue, and takes no responsibility for their sellers. If you receive an e-mail offering to complete the transaction through eBay using their protection, it is a scam. They usually want you to send money via Western Union etc. and say that you will receive the item before the funds are released to the seller. This is a lie. Once you wire money, it is gone, and it can be picked up anywhere in the world. Michael from California is really Vlad from Romania or Omar from Nigeria.

Don't respond to these sorts of messages that ask you to send your name, mailing address etc. as well. A legitimate seller that you won the item from on eBay will already have that information.

6. If you accidentally bid on a scam auction from a hijacked account, and the auction is removed by eBay, you do not have to pay. Cease contact with the seller at that point - the auction is null and void for a reason.

7. When sending payment, pay through Paypal using a credit card. Cheques and Money orders are NOT secure methods of payment. Once your money is sent, it is gone. If the seller doesn't send you the tickets, your only recourse is through small claims court in their jurisdiction.

When sending a payment through Paypal, be sure to withdraw any balance you have in your account first. If you have money in your account, Paypal uses that before it uses any other source of funding.

Change your funding source - on each transaction - to your credit card. It costs Paypal more money, so they don't want you to do this. They try to discourage you from doing so. Payment methods are from your bank account by default, so you have to change it each and every time.

Paying by Paypal with your credit card is your only safe method to pay. Paypal has buyer protection - up to $200 on some auctions, up to $2000 on others (depending on the status of your seller). Save a screen capture or copy of the auction just in case it disappears in the future, and note the amount of protection. If you only have $200 in coverage, and you end up getting scammed for more than that, you will have to go to your credit card to retrieve the difference.

8. Know your dispute times. You MUST file a claim with Paypal within 45 days of the auction. That's 45 days from the MOMENT you paid. If you file on day 45, but 2 hours after the time you paid, you are too late. Start looking at filing by day 40 to be safe.

If you don't receive anything from the seller, file for an Item Not Received claim. If you do receive something (an empty envelope even, or tickets for a different row/seat etc.) you must file a Significantly Not as Described claim.

You are given the option to communicate in the dispute console, and may come to an agreement. Otherwise, do not forget to escalate the dispute to a claim (within 20 days of filing)... this means Paypal looks at all the information and makes a decision to give you your money back.

If you win and Paypal can't retrieve the funds, or if you don't win (because the seller sent an empty envelope with tracking etc.) you MUST file a chargeback with your credit card. Usually this must be done within 60 days of the payment (or 60 days of receiving the bill with the transaction on it). Check with your credit card company to be sure. Try the Paypal route first, because you can always fall back on the credit card company. If you file with the CC company first and lose, then Paypal won't help you.

9. Do NOT buy tickets more than 45 days in advance of the concert. It can be hard to do, since you want to get them early... but if the seller sold the same tickets to 5 different people (especially the case with ticketfast tickets printed online), you won't know until it's too late to file a claim. If you do buy them in advance, make sure you've screened the seller properly and you still have recourse through your credit card company. You can also call the venue to ensure that the tickets are valid. Scammers will pay for tickets with stolen credit cards, and then the ticket company cancels the tickets!

10. Do NOT ever pay with Western Union or another wire transfer service. Scammers love them (see above!) If your seller has a good track record and doesn't take Paypal, you can use a money order or send a BANK wire transfer... it leaves you vulnerable, but you have to judge your seller. These payments can be tracked to the seller, unlike Western Union.

I have safely bough tickets on eBay - many people do it all the time. But for events in high demand, fraud runs rampant. Protect yourself, screen your seller and all should go well, but know what to do if it doesn't.

For those who plan to sell your extra tickets, know what your rights and responsibilities are as a seller. There are buyers out there committing fraud as well.

1. Accept Paypal payments from buyers in Canada, US and UK only. You don't have any seller protection from other countries.

2. Ship HARD tickets. Without delivery confirmation (signature confirmation for over $250) you have absolutely no recourse if your buyer does a chargeback, and no protection through Paypal. E-Mailed tickets simply aren't covered.

3. Ship only to confirmed addresses. Addresses in US, UK and Canada are confirmed at this point (verified is the account status... be sure you look for the words CONFIRMED). Do not ship to a gift address or an unconfirmed address, or you have no protection through Paypal.

4. Look for the part that says "Seller Protection Eligible" on the payment page. This means if the buyer commits fraud, Paypal will cover your loss in some circumstances (read the user agreement to find out how).

5. Do NOT accept Paypal for tickets being picked up in person, even for a deposit. You have to have ONLINE proof of delivery that Paypal can actually look at in order to be covered (remember the signature if over $250 US).

6. Do not accept foreign money orders. Ask for Postal Money Orders which can be cashed at the post office. If you receive a fake bank draft from overseas, you may not know for months that it was phony - and then the bank comes after you. If a country doesn't have postal money orders, request a bank to bank transfer.

7. If you do get scammed BEFORE the show, call the ticket vendor and report the tickets lost or stolen. You may have to show up at an outlet to get them replaced, and you'll have to show a credit card used to buy them in order to prove you are legit. If you paid cash, you may or may not get the tickets replaced (best to keep a photocopy!), but if they're reported stolen, the buyer won't be able to gain entry to the show with them.

8. Finally, whenever a winning buyer sends an e-mail that begins "greetings of the season to you" etc. and asks that the tickets be mailed to their student daughter in Nigeria, RUN! Do not accept a bank draft for more than the ticket amount, with a request to Western Union the overpayment. Do not ship the tickets. You'll lose your money and the tickets, and you'll be out EVERYTHING when the bank draft turns out phony. There are many scambuster web sites out there that contain sample letters, and you'd be surprised how they lack in originality.

Be safe when buying online and you'll have a great time at the concert.
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Re: Desperation for Tickets and dealing with eBay

Postby gingermop » Mon Mar 24, 2008 4:50 pm

Velvet: Thanks for such a useful post. I'm hoping people don't have to end up forking out hundreds of pounds on Ebay. People would be best advised to wait until the panic has died down and try get them later: many people who got tickets may realise that they can't go, nearer the time, and will sell tickets at face value.

Another caveat I'd like to highlight is getting scammed via touts and their websites. Jarkko has already posted about fake websites selling the East European tickets, but it's also a big problem elsewhere (especially in the UK). This is a good article to read:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/ma ... 8.internet

Getting tickets on the secondary market falls into three categories:

1. From lovely nice people at face value!
2. From unlovely people at a higher value, but who are still genuine sellers
3. From touts or potential scammers, either online or in person

Addressing each in turn, with some links:

1. Naturally this forum is the best place to look at the moment for people selling spares, especially now there's a dedicated thread. One problem though is that touts will also sign up here pretending to be fans "desperate" for a ticket, and when you sell one to them at face value, off they go to Ebay. Try and test if they're a genuine fan or not (not through email, obvously, a tout can Google anything just as easily). Genuine buyers would probably be happy to talk on the phone, for example, or maybe there's an old-timer member of the forum who can vouch for them.

If you can't get a ticket on this forum, there are two other reputable places I know of where people are genuinely selling tickets at face value. They are:

http://www.scarletmist.co.uk and
http://www.swapmyticket.co.uk (for selling and swapping)

Scarlet Mist also has a good FAQ section with notes on how to spot a dodgy deal or a fake ticket.

2. There are a couple of sites where the prices are elevated but the sale is still genuine. They are:

Ticketmaster's Ticket Exchange. Leonard is on the front page at the moment. The prices are awful. Sigh.

More elevated prices with a stupid commission as well.

3. There are many, many, many tout sites saying that they have tickets for an event, and are selling them at hiked up prices. It's a typical operation where they charge large amounts upfront for tickets that they don't have. These kinds of sites are usually run by one or two dodgy people and their mobile phones, and they can knock up pretty convincing websites. They take your money first, then hope that they land a ticket, which they then give to you on the day or very near the event. If they fail to get a ticket, they still keep you waiting until the day of the concert, by which time it's impossible for you to get a ticket from any other route. Some of the (worst) examples on what these sites do is cloning your card and flogging it to criminals on top of that.

Now, I'm not saying these sites definitely won't give you a ticket (some of them will). But it's an extremely risky route to take! Known sites that fall into this category and are therefore best to be avoided are:


There are loads more, too many to mention. However, there's a voting system on http://www.tickettout.org/voting.aspx where people share their experiences with such sites (most of them bad).

Desparation for tickets is at a peak now since they've all just been released and people are disappointed that they may have missed out, but I'd advise all you genuine fans to be patient and keep trying: there's still many weeks left before the tour, please don't line the pockets of touts in the meantime!


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Re: Desperation for Tickets and dealing with eBay

Postby Jeremy » Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:15 pm

Velvet this is great advice. I'm an occasional buyer on Ebay, never a seller - but what do you mean by the reference to chargeback?

Are you saying that a buyer can take delivery of their purchase, and then recover their Paypal remittance?
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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

Postby velvet » Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:01 pm

Wow - I got a sticky!

Yes Jeremy, if a buyer is scam-saavy, they know how to play the system. It is possible to have them receive the tickets (or merchandise) then call the credit card company and dispute the charge. Most companies offer consumer protection in favour of the buyer, and require little more than just a statement that it was an unauthorized charge, or the item wasn't received etc. Knowing what you must do and prove in order to maintain your protection through Paypal is necessary to ensure you don't get taken.
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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

Postby mirka » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:48 am

Thanks a lot Velvet !!
I'm intending to buy/sell on EBay if I cannot swap my tix for the date I want, and I appreciate very much your advice.
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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

Postby yhtrownu » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:24 pm

Good tips concerning ebay.

I don't have a paypal account, so I pay by cheque (or "check," if you are from the USA :)) when I need good seats. I don't get paypal protection, so I make sure I buy from 100 percent feedback sellers, as you suggest, who have a long record on ebay.

My tip is to withhold your feedback until you are 100 percent happy. Any seller with a 100 percent feedback record will be frightened of your ability to ruin their record (which would spoil their business) by giving a negative score, so hopefully they behave honorably. I never give feedback until the tickets are in my hand. This has worked well, and has been necessary, because I can't figure out how to get Ticketmaster to allocate me good seats.

nb: If anyone can explain how the touts get the best seats, enlighten us. If a second O2 show comes up, what must I do to increase my chance of getting great seats? Logging on at the specified time doesn't seem to guarantee anything. (I joined Ticketmaster's presale for REM's recent Albert Hall concert, logged on promptly, filled in my details instantly, and was still sat right at the back). Ticketmaster's allocation system is a mystery. . . :0
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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

Postby Bela » Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:48 pm

As a seller and buyer on eBay (of 'stuff' that I own but don't use any longer - not tickets), I can only agree with what's been said. However, very soon, sellers will not be able to give neutral or negative feedback to any buyers, which makes the whole thing even more of a farce than it sometimes is already. I've had buyers who were an incredible pain in the butt (some who refused to pay or sent uncashable cheques, etc. or who changed their minds at the last minute). The only recourse for sellers will be to file a dispute, etc., which, in my experience, is useless since eBay refuses to interfere - even when it's 100% obvious who the baddie is. That said, I've also had great transactions and found things on eBay for much cheaper than anywhere else (and also made a small profit sometimes on stuff I've sold).
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How Touts get the tickets

Postby Scooby Doo » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:09 pm

Through a carefully tested process.

I managed to get A Block O2 tickets through having more than one browser open and refreshing them all from 8:55am until the system let me in at 8:57am (three minutes early).

Touts will do the same and work in a network thus increasing their chances of scoring the best tickets.

The day of the tout being in the front of the queue at the Box Office is long gone...

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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

Postby davelovesleonard! » Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:49 am

Many thanks Velvet, and others, for this great advice. Wow, have I learnt a heck of a lot about ticket buying this week!
Tried for two tickets for Manchester soon as they went on sale - well, you can guess the outcome. Managed to get 3 for Edinburgh later in the day, but way back. Felt sick when I saw the numbers being offered on TicketExchange and e-bay at such ridiculous prices just to line the touts bulging pockets. Then so pleased to see the dedicated thread on this forum for loyal, dedicated fans to do the decent thing.
Gonna try my luck for Dublin tomorrow morning, if I have any spares you'll see them here first!
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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

Postby David Blackman » Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:48 pm

Is there nothing that could be put in place to stop the touts from getting the best tickets and selling them on at a price.
We the real fans just shadow box in the fog hoping to hit on a good ticket when they come up. But mostly we end up with the crumbs , it would be good if Leonard and his management team were made aware of the problems his fans have getting a ticket to see him , at a fair price.
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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

Postby honeyrose » Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:29 pm

In December 2007 a Hannah Montana (Miley Cryus) tour sold out across the US in 5 minutes with the tickets popping up on StubHub minutes later. In the row which followed, The New York Times ran a feature by Randall Stross on the secondary ticket market.

Stross wrote: "Ticket sales for big-name concerts now follow a distressingly consistent pattern: At 10 a.m. on a Saturday, tickets go on sale, and by 10:05 a.m., all tickets are sold. Yet by 10:05, StubHub and other ticket exchanges already have a plenitude of tickets listed for the sold-out event — only now, they cost much more. Some ticket brokers are so certain of their ability to get hold of desirable tickets that they confidently advertise tickets on these exchanges even before tickets go on sale to the public.

"Montana tickets, whose face value is $21 to $66, have been resold on StubHub, on average, for $258, the company says, and that is without taking into account StubHub’s 25 percent commission (10 percent paid by the buyer, 15 percent by the seller). None of the proceeds from the resale of tickets at inflated prices make their way back to Ms. Cyrus.

"How do they do it? An intriguing explanation is that brokers use specialized software to make multiple online purchases of tickets, circumventing the four-ticket-per-customer limit that the rest of us must abide by. How brokers can jump to the front of the line is described in supplemental documents filed in Ticketmaster v. RMG Technologies, an active Federal District Court case asserting that the defendant’s automated ticket-buying software (PurchaseMaster) violated the Ticketmaster Web site’s terms of use. The papers describe a subterranean world of software designed to enter Ticketmaster’s online ticket-purchasing system at will and to scoop up tickets without limits."

"Kevin McLain, Ticketmaster’s senior director of applications support, estimates that on some days, 80 percent of all ticket requests that arrive at its Web site are generated by bots. The company looked for purchase anomalies and found four individual brokers who had bought a total of 115,000 tickets online. One of the four, Chris Kovach, agreed to cooperate and led investigators to RMG and its Web site, ticketbrokertools.com, which was open only to its clients. Mr. Kovach also agreed to permit security specialists to make a copy of his PC’s hard drive.

"Ticketmaster said it had found evidence that RMG clients, with the help of RMG’s “PurchaseMaster” and related software, submitted millions of automated ticket requests, in Mr. McClain’s estimation. The RMG software disguised the clients’ Internet addresses to create the appearance that their ticket requests had originated in many different places, Mr. McClain said. And how do they get round the "opticals" needed to buy tickets which are supposed to restrict large multiple purchases by one source. An RMG spokesman told the NYT that “We pay guys in India $2 an hour to type the answers.”

The case is scheduled for October and RMG is injuncted not to use its software meanwhile but our experience with the Leonard tickets shows the same system or one like it is still in full swing out there. In the case of the Hannah Montana tour, over at Stubhub, spokesman Sean Pate said it did not ask its sellers about how they got their tickets. “It’s not our business to play judge and jury and ask, ‘Have you been fair?,’ ” he said. “All we care about is that the seller delivers the ticket.”

Naturally the stars want a share of the action too. An article in the Word magazine (UK) this month, says that until the mid-late 90s, artists and bands managers would agonise over tour seat prices to get the best deal for their fans. But of course they then saw the price escalate upwards as Ticketmaster added its own extras on top (some of which now seem to be shared with venue and possibly the band too) and then the touts were jumping in too. Also as more and more people want the live experience so the price of live shows has gone up. So managers' decided to charge what the tour would bear - that way the star at least sees some of the money.

Some big stars now auction their tickets - apparently Beyonce does. And tickets are officially non transferrable and some stars are enforcing this element - the Word article says Kylie insisted any tickets for her last tour which were found being resold, should be cancelled. One music biz manager also said that the touts rush in and buy up tickets for shows which seem to be going well in the hope of reselling them so you can think you have sold 50,000 tickets but in fact 20,000 have been snapped up by the "secondary market". I think this accounts for the sudden sell out of Leonard's remaing o2 tickets the ones without a good view, that the speculators rushed in.

When Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) tickets went on sale at 10:00 a.m., they sold out of TicketMaster by 10:05…then immediately appeared on StubHub. Average original ticket price? About $50. Average sale price on StubHub? $258. (StubHub's turnover in 2007 was over US$100m probably why Ebay bought it.) Something similar to Miley Cyrus seems to have happened on TicketExchange with the o2 Leonard tickets. It looks like TM is thinking if you can't beat them, join them.

Interesting comments about being unable to get online to Manchester. I logged on to TM at 10 o'clock and at first could not get past a screen prompting me for a "Live" Code. I kept trying and it kept prompting. I wondered if this was because the Opera House is a Live Nation venue and there was some sort of deal that Live Nation customers got first dibs. So as I am also registered with Live Nation, I signed on there too but no joy, it did not have Leonard Cohen in its listed LN promotions. Then I refreshed my original TM screen, and a second sign in box appeared, below the first, that allowed you to log in without the Live code. That time I managed to get some rear stall seats. I wonder I might have got further forward if I could have got into the site sooner. Also all the fiddling about must have clogged up the access worse for everyone trying to get through.
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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

Postby honeyrose » Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:54 pm

Just to add, sports teams now contract for a cut of the secondary market in their seats with sites like TicketExchange and StubHub. Music promoters are following hard on this trend.

In December 2007 it was reported that "Late this summer Tixdaq, (a company in London that sells concert-attendance data to the music industry,) and the Music Managers Forum, a lobby in London, formed the Resale Rights Society to negotiate with the estimated 240 companies worldwide that operate online concert-ticket exchanges. Already the group has inked deals with 150 management companies representing more than 400 artists including Peter Gabriel, Robbie Williams, The Verve, Bryan Adams and The Cardigans.

"This approach makes sense for all concerned", says Marc Marot, the head of the new venture, which launched formally on December 4th. "Exchanges are a more efficient way to segment the market than the crude pricing used by promoters; by teaming up with the exchanges we can get a cut." Tixdaq estimates that last year Britons purchased £100m ($207m) worth of resold tickets; this year the market will top £250m. " (Source: viagogo)

Maybe Leonard's management have already cut a deal for a share of the secondary market in his tickets?
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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay

Postby k-e-t » Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:04 pm

CBC's Marketplace had an interesting show a couple of weeks back about ticket resellers and their use of automated programs to snap up tix... worth a watch, or at least a browse on the site:

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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay--STUBHUB

Postby rowo15 » Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:17 am

with all this caution being said, i am more scared to buy second-hand tickets.

i have been looking around ebay. i see tickets going for $700+ a pair. but i am weary of the sellers. so i started looking at stubhub. they say they have a guarnatee of its authenticity. that's my main fear. i don't want to fly all the way from california to montreal and then be turned away at the door for an invalid ticket.

any experience with stubhub? some advice, please. i'm thinking stubhub is one of the more assured way of getting valid tickets and have a smooth payment transaction. what do you think of stubhub?

someone on the sell/trade forum offered a pair of montreal tickets for $800. there is still the weariness of buying from an unknown and how to handle the money trade?

what do you suggest for someone without tickets, who desparately wants to go?

and what is this "hard ticket" vs. email ticket? [i haven't bought tickets for an event in ages!] should i strictly look for tickets that are "hard tickets" and "in-hand?"
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Re: Avoiding Scams and Touts & Dealing with eBay--STUBHUB

Postby mirka » Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:28 am

rowo15 wrote:with all this caution being said, i am more scared to buy second-hand tickets.
and what is this "hard ticket" vs. email ticket? [i haven't bought tickets for an event in ages!] should i strictly look for tickets that are "hard tickets" and "in-hand?"
Hard ticket is a ticket printed by the Ticketmaster and send to you, while email ticket is the ticket Tickemaster sends via email, for you to print at home.

Being left without other options yesterday I got myself tickets on Ebay, for prohibitive price. In my mind I'm excused for this extravaganza, as this is a unique opportunity to see LC.
Having read Velvet's advice I picked a seller with 100% positive feedback, apparently specializing in reselling tickets (for outrageous price). Tickets supposed to be hard copy, and I was promised they will arrive shortly.
Will post here the end result of my experience.
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