McDaniel Investigates Hannah Montana Ticket Sales

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September 21, 2007 LITTLE ROCK - When tickets to Hannah Montanas December 1 concert at Alltel Arena went on sale recently, many Arkansans logged onto the Ticketmaster Web site and tried to purchase them. Other consumers appeared in person at Alltel Arena to buy directly from the box office. However, only a few minutes after the sale opened, consumers were informed that the concert had sold out. Other consumers were unable to log onto the Web site at all. Fueling their frustration, consumers came to find that a number of other Internet sites were auctioning the tickets at prices far beyond the face value. Additionally, some Internet sites offered tickets even before they were to be made available to the public. After receiving numerous complaints from disappointed parents this week, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel initiated an investigation of the Hannah Montana ticket sales. Today, he issued this consumer alert to explain how this concert, and many others, sell-out so quickly and how consumers can avoid purchasing bogus, overpriced tickets. I have a young daughter, and I really wish I could fix this problem for all the parents with disappointed kids right now, McDaniel said. However, what our investigation reveals thus far is that many of the tickets intended to be sold directly to Arkansas consumers were diverted to as yet unidentified bulk purchasers. McDaniel stated that he has become aware of allegations that at least one company is selling a software product that allows the user to breach the Ticketmaster online system, allowing him or her to cut in line ahead of legitimate customers and block access to tickets at the site. Sales at the box office are also tied into the Ticketmaster system. McDaniel stated that it is possible that users of this software were able to block the full number of tickets intended to be available at the box office. McDaniel also warned about the possibility that some of the tickets offered for resale on the Internet may be bogus. Some online ticket sellers may not actually have the tickets they are offering. Others may be selling counterfeit tickets, and there may be no way for the purchaser to know prior to attending the event whether the ticket he has bought online from a reseller is legitimate. Consumers considering purchasing tickets online should keep the following tips in mind: 1) Know who you are buying from. Web sites have certain guidelines that resellers must follow, but not all sites verify ticket authenticity before permitting users to post them for sale. 2) Avoid paying the seller directly using cash or a check. Many auction sites use separate services to handle the payment, which usually requires the use of a credit card. If purchases are made through a separate service or with a credit card, the consumer is more likely to have some recourse to dispute the charge if the tickets turn out to be bogus. 3) Research the seller and the site. Web sites that display the Better Business Bureau seal will usually have a buyer protection program, which consumers should find and make inquiries about before making a purchase. Additionally, consumers should look to buy from a seller that has a current, ongoing history of satisfied customers rather than one that has made few sales or does not do so on a regular basis. While there will always be issues relating to ticket availability where demand exceeds supply, the process must be fair to consumers, McDaniel said. With these ticket sales, there is the additional problem that many are being offered on the Internet at prices far above the face value. In many instances, Arkansas law prohibits resale at prices over the face value plus a reasonable handling charge. McDaniel noted that it is sometimes difficult to enforce the ticket scalping laws with respect to Internet transactions where the seller may be located in another state, or even another country, and may, in fact, be anonymous to the purchaser.