When your favorite artist is coming to town, and you need the perfect seats, eBay is a terrific source. Listings are plentiful for close-up premium seats, last minute tickets, hard-to-get tickets for sold out shows and yes, there are even some bargain tickets at below face value.
Some people, however, are hesitant to purchase tickets on eBay. They think that the only way to get authentic tickets to an event is through the venue box office or a ticketing company such as Comcast or Ticketmaster. The purpose of this guide is to help take some of the mystery out of buying tickets on eBay, by familiarizing the reader with safe ticket buying practices and ticket terminologies.
- KNOW YOUR SELLER
This is one of the basics no matter what you are buying on eBay. Read the sellers feedback comments carefully. Check the positive feedback percentage and detailed seller ratings (DSR’S are the 1-5 “stars” sellers get in 4 important customer satisfaction categories). Work with sellers who have an established record of satisfied customers. EBay recognizes such sellers with their Power Seller program, and the Power Seller logo will appear in listings that are offered by this elite group. Don’t do business with anyone you're not comfortable with.
- LISTING BASICS
In my opinion, all listings for event tickets on eBay should have the following information in order to help you make an informed decision. If you come across listings which don’t disclose everything, then ASK THE SELLER. Some sellers put very little info in their listings, and it is either laziness on their part OR an attempt to hide something. In either case, you can avoid being disappointed or getting into a dispute by looking for this basic information:
Artist, Venue, Show Date … Make sure the listing is for exactly the show you want. If the artist is playing multiple shows in your town, check carefully. Look for discrepancies between the listings title, pre-filled event information and the text of the listing. Ensure that all three areas refer to the same show. It is very common to see a listing title for one show, and a description for a different day or venue.
Section and Row Information, and a Seating Chart … You should be able tell exactly where the seats being offered are located in relation to the stage. Many sellers use terms like “Great Seats” or “Awesome View” for seats which are really quite ordinary. “Front Row” doesn’t necessarily mean row one right in front of the stage … it could just mean front row of that particular section. Look out for terms like “next to stage” or “side stage”… often these are limited - view seats which are actually behind the stage. This is why I feel all sellers should provide a seating chart or photo in their listings indicating exactly where their seats are. If no chart is provided, most venues have seating charts on their websites, and some even offer a virtual view of the stage from every section in the house.
Seat Numbers … To maintain the buyers and sellers privacy, most sellers (including me) do not put exact seat numbers in their listings. But you should see some indication that the seats are together, side by side. A common scam is to try to pass off two seats in the same section as a pair, when they are really not together. Don’t assume that because someone is selling 2 tickets that they are right next to each other. The seller should spell it out in the listing. Use the “ask seller a question” link if you really need to know exact seat numbers. I usually would indicate a range to give potential buyers an idea, for example, “the seats are together, side by side, in Section 133, Row E, and seat numbers are somewhere between 6 and 12”.
Type of Ticket … You will see listings for two types of tickets on eBay. Hard Tickets are tickets printed on ticket stock by the venue box office or ticketing agency, and they are the type of ticket everybody is familiar with. TicketFast or eTickets are tickets which are printed out on a home computer after being e-mailed to the buyer by the ticketing agency. Both are perfectly legitimate, and I will address the pro’s and con’s of each type later in the guide. For now, lets just say that all listings SHOULD indicate what type of tickets are being offered. Don’t assume. If you were expecting hard tickets, you would probably be disappointed if you received two pieces of paper with bar codes on them in the mail. So, if the listing doesn’t specify, be sure to ask the seller.
Expected Shipping Time … Sellers sometimes list tickets on eBay that they do not physically have in their possession at the time of listing. This is considered by eBay to be a presale, and it is perfectly within eBay policies IF : 1) the seller indicates that it is a presale listing within the body of text AND 2) the tickets are shipped to the buyer within 30 days of listing end. THIS IS BY FAR the area of miscommunication which causes the most discord between ticket buyers and sellers. Many, many sellers don’t follow the rules and disclose that they don’t have the tickets for immediate shipment. Buyers become upset if it takes 2-3 weeks for their tickets to arrive. If it is not addressed in the listing, definitely ask the seller if the tickets are ready for immediate shipment OR what the expected shipping date is. And waiting a couple of weeks for your tickets isn’t really bad if you know in advance that’s how long it’s going to take.
Return Policy … What happens if the show is cancelled? Verify that you will be able to arrange for a refund, because cancellations do happen. The sellers policy should be clearly spelled out in the listing. Many expect the buyer to pay the eBay fees and offer only a partial refund. This is ridiculous in my opinion. A good seller will offer a FULL refund if the show is cancelled.
AND FINALLY ... NEVER buy any ticket from a listing which clearly shows the barcode numbers in a photo. eBay warns sellers to obscure the barcodes on ticket photos. The reason is that some websites allow ticket sellers to simply type in the barcodes, and then tickets are sold electronically. If all the barcode info is out there for the world to see, there is a chance that the info was used by a scammer to already sell the "tickets" on another site. You would never know the tickets were no good until you tried to get in to the venue.
HARD TICKETS vs. TICKETFAST E-TICKETS
In recent years, the print at home TicketFast ticket has become more common and it does have some advantages. TicketFast tickets can be e-mailed to you in a .PDF format for you to print out at home on your computer. This is great if the show date is close … you won’t have to pay for express shipping. If you lose your e-tickets, you can just print out more copies. But beware, because this flexibility has a major downfall.
TicketFast tickets can be printed out over and over and over again. If multiple copies of a TicketFast ticket are printed, only the first one to be scanned at the concert venue will admit entry. All the other copies will be worthless. An unscrupulous seller could potentially sell the same ticket to dozens of people. This is why it is important to deal with reputable, established sellers on eBay. Most sellers who sell TicketFast tickets are honest people and are selling legitimate tickets.
To avoid problems with TicketFast tickets, I would ask the seller if he is the original purchaser of the ticket. When Ticketmaster sells a TicketFast ticket, the buyers name appears on the printout. If you are buying your e-ticket from someone who bought it from someone else who bought it from another guy who bought it from their cousins girlfriends brother, there is NO WAY to verify it isn’t one of those bad duplicate copies. Stick with buying TicketFast tickets only from the person whose name appears on the ticket.
The regular old hard ticket has some great advantages. They are difficult to counterfeit, and you have peace of mind regarding their authenticity right away when you receive them. Hard tickets are much nicer to keep as a souvenir or give as a gift. The major drawback is that they are almost impossible to replace if lost, so treat your tickets like cash and put them in a safe place. Lost tickets are quite common, because in many cases you buy them 3-4 months in advance of the concert, and during the hectic chaos we know as everyday life, they disappear.
TERMS USED IN EBAY TICKET LISTINGS
Floor …seats on the main floor of an arena or theatre, usually the most desirable and expensive seats. But, use your head and check out seating charts thoroughly, because a floor seat isn’t always the best seat available.
Uppers… seats in the upper level or balcony. Sometimes uppers can be better than floor seats if they are in a section that is close to the stage. They are usually more affordable too. Front row uppers are great! …Did you ever go to a concert and have somebody right in front of you who decides they are going to stand up for the whole show? If you are in the front row of the balcony, THAT CAN’T HAPPEN!
Lowers … seats on the lower level, usually in a multi purpose arena. Lowers would be the permanent seating areas of the arena, which would be there for say, a hockey or basketball game. Usually they are good seats, and can be great if they are in a section close to the stage. But, check those seating charts… lowers are sometimes at the side or even behind the stage.
Mezzanine … in older theatres with multiple balconies, sometimes the first, closest-to-the-stage balcony is called the mezzanine. In other venues, the mezzanine can refer to the back part of the main floor where ticket prices are usually a little lower. Some venues use the word Loge for the same types of sections.
Club Level … most modern, large arenas have some sort of club level, and they are usually a few rows of seats between the lowers and uppers. Club level seats are usually great because you are still close to the stage, but raised slightly to see above the crowd. Sometimes club level seats come with special amenities such as preferred parking or exclusive concession areas and restrooms.
Piggyback … a term used for two seats, one directly behind the other, with the same seat numbers in consecutive rows. While not next to each other, piggyback seat are sometime sold as pairs or four packs.
Hopefully, you can now “take the plunge” and be confident about buying concert tickets on eBay. It would be a shame to miss a sold out show that you really want to see. Remember, thousands of tickets worth millions of dollars are sold right here every year … so use the tips in this guide and go for it … you’ll be glad you did. ENJOY THE SHOW!!!
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