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Buyer beware: seven tips for giving tickets as a holiday gift

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Image of empty theater seats'Tis the season for gift giving, and for that special sports or music fan in your life, the right tickets to the right event can make the perfect holiday gift. But shady resale sites, scammers, and restrictive tickets can put a damper on your holiday cheer, resulting in the purchase of fraudulent tickets, or even genuine tickets that make terrible gifts because they cannot be transferred to your family and friends.

These restrictions can be a major hassle. Just ask Veronica, who purchased concert tickets for her nephew, and then had to drive seven hours to New York to wait in line and get him in.

NCL has teamed up with the Fan Freedom Project to bring you six helpful tips to avoid scams, non-transferrable tickets, and other hassles that could turn your thoughtful gift into a nightmare.

1. Know what type of ticket you are buying: Just because you bought a ticket doesn’t mean you can easily give it as a present. Some events have restricted “paperless tickets, which require the buyer to show up at the venue and present the purchasing credit card and photo ID.  This means you still have to go to the event with them – or they will not be able to get in. This can be inconvenient at the very least, or even impossible if you plan to give tickets to someone who lives far away.

2. Be prepared to pay additional fees: Unlike airline fares, now required by law to include all taxes and additional fees in the advertised price of a ticket, concert and sporting events tickets are not required to include fees upfront, leaving many consumers shocked at the final price of a ticket.

3. Use Reliable sellers: Beware of fly-by-night ticket sellers. If you’re unsure about a company, check with the Better Business Bureau. If you’re buying from a ticket broker, make sure they are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, whose Code of Ethics requires members to adhere to basic consumer protections.

4. Pay Attention to URLs: Check any website’s URL to ensure that you don’t get duped by an imposter. Remember, even if a website looks like the official site, it may be bogus.

5. Check Your Ticket Vendor’s Guarantee Policy: For example, websites like Stub Hub, TicketsNow, Ace Tickets and All-Shows guarantee every ticket sold on their sites and will replace them or refund money to consumers if they receive wrong or invalid tickets, or if an event is cancelled. Craigslist and other online classifieds sites do not offer such guarantees; it’s “buyer beware” when shopping there.

6. Buy with a Credit Card: Regardless of where you buy tickets, be sure to use a credit card so you can dispute any unfair or unauthorized charges. Before entering your credit card information online, be sure the site has “https://” at the beginning of the website address. This means the site is encrypted and safer for use.

7. Know the Rules: Some venues limit the number of tickets you can buy.