Hannah Montana's television show popularity made getting tickets for her concert last year a fan's nightmare. If you've seen events sell out and find yourself online paying way more than face value, then you've entered today's world of ticket reselling. Consumer Reports' Tod Marks says what used to be illegal is now quite legitimate, since most states have either relaxed or eliminated anti-scalping laws.
"Reseller sites generally don't sell any tickets at all," said Marks. "But they're open marketplaces. They're trading posts, much as eBay is and Craigslist is, where they facilitate deals between buyers and sellers."
StubHub, TicketsNow, and RazorGator are among the bigger resellers that as a group are earning more than $2 billion a year online. To see how the reseller market works, Consumer Reports tracked ticket prices over a month's time for two events, a Yankees-Orioles baseball game and a Santana concert.
"In the case of the Yankees game, we saw prices go up and down and up and down and on the day of the game we were able to get a $65 ticket for $25 plus fees, which is pretty good," said Marks.
For the Santana concert, ticket prices went up and down even more. But a half-hour before the show, tickets were available for $92, slightly above the original price.
Consumer Reports says one way to get tickets at a good price is to buy them before they actually go on sale. Presale mailings are one option. Joining an artist's fan club can get you onto a presale list. Also look for credit-card promotions that give you first dibs and discounts, too. But if you have to use a reseller ...
"Track those tickets over multiple reseller sites for as long as possible," said Marks. "Don't buy early on in the process. Don't be desperate."
Consumer Reports says buying tickets from better-known resellers is a better bet than Craigslist or eBay because online resellers are often sanctioned by sports teams and events and the sites have strict protection policies. For instance, you're less likely to get stuck with counterfeit tickets. Reseller sites work to replace bad tickets, or get you a refund.