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FIGHTING THE SCAM – Is Your Vegas Ticketing Site Essentially a Scalper?

Vegas 411 investigates companies that, on the surface, look legit. But are they actually shady AF?

FIGHTING THE SCAM – Is Your Vegas Ticketing Site Essentially a Scalper?

Do you remember the 2007 comedy KNOCKED UP? In the film, characters played by Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen are excited to “score” tickets to a Cirque du Soleil production, clearly portrayed as a rare event. Fifteen years later, you can walk into nearly any Vegas showroom right before curtain time and be guaranteed a great seat. Sold-out shows are that much of a rarity now.

Many ticketing resellers would have you believe that it is still 2007. One in particular, which boasts “5 million happy customers and counting”, does indeed present a bountiful array of major players, sporting events, headliner acts, and small productions. But whether those purchasers are actually satisfied depends on how much research they did before handing over their credit card information.

VEGAS 411 has discovered that at least one third-party reseller may be utilizing a method to obtain tickets that is in direct violation of Nevada reseller statutes. Before getting into that, let’s take a look at the concept of ticket reselling, and try to figure out why ANYONE would purchase a Vegas show ticket from this type of third-party agent.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “an educated consumer is our best customer”. Combine that slogan with “buyer beware”, and you’ve got a pretty solid formula for successful transactions. Those seeking out ticket discounts should 1) start by knowing the prices being charged by the show’s official site, 2) compare them with reputable discounters like Tix4Tonight, Vegas.com, Viator.com, or Spotlight.Vegas, then 3) read the fine print for any third-party stipulations that might negate those savings (refund policies, assurance of seat selection, method of ticket delivery, service charges, etc.).

FIGHTING THE SCAM – Is Your Vegas Ticketing Site Essentially a Scalper?

Third-party resellers are likely to have several disclaimers peppered throughout its site. This is a typical one:

Disclaimer: We are an independent licensed broker. We have no affiliation with Ticketmaster®, any box office, theatre or arena. All sales are final. There are no refunds, cancellations or exchanges. The price that you pay may be substantially higher than the face value price printed on the tickets. Our pricing reflects the current market value. The market value price for a ticket can fluctuate regularly and is determined by factors including supply and demand, seat location, date and the difficulty in obtaining a ticket.

So, the companies clearly and fairly explain that their prices reflect demand, suggesting an operation that combines the resale concept of StubHub.com with the much-maligned “dynamic pricing” now commonplace at Ticketmaster.com. But when they’re selling readily-available seats at extremely inflated prices, does that constitutes a violation of business practices? It depends on how they’re obtaining those tickets in the first place. And that’s a very important matter.

It’s pretty well known that for mega-events like the Superbowl, brokers will list tickets before they even become available. They then try to acquire them for sale at a hefty profit. For regularly-performing shows in Las Vegas, there is absolutely no need for this practice to exist…except to gouge the unsuspecting and line the pockets of the devious.

Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 598 lays down the law in regard to ticket resellers and deceptive business practices. NRS 598.3979 part 1-D speficially addresses this. An entity may not:

Resell a ticket or advertise a ticket for resale, unless:

             (1) The ticket is in the possession or constructive possession of the reseller; or

             (2) The reseller has a written contract with the rights holder to obtain the ticket.

Part 2 of the statute covers the following:

A primary ticket provider, a reseller, a secondary ticket exchange or any affiliate of a primary ticket provider, reseller or secondary ticket exchange shall not resell a ticket before the ticket has been made available to the public, including, without limitation, through a presale, fan club presale or any other promotional presale event, by the rights holder without first obtaining permission from the rights holder to do so.

FIGHTING THE SCAM – Is Your Vegas Ticketing Site Essentially a Scalper?

VEGAS 411 was contacted by a show producer who determined that one particular website was regularly advertising their shows without consent or any type of formal arrangement. Upon researching the source of tickets being presented by guests at the theater, the producer learned that these seats had all been purchased on the same credit card by an employee of that site.

While this doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, it would be a huge issue if those tickets were not already in possession of this entity at the time they were “resold” to customers. That would be a direct violation of the law, and of great concern to Sin City entertainers.

VEGAS 411 recently published several reports on the difficulties facing resident shows when it comes to making a profit. You can learn about their massive expenses…and why performers “moonlight” in other cities just to stay afloat…by clicking here, here, and here. How would they feel to learn that a business entity is making massive profits off their hard work without their knowledge or participation?

To answer that question, I sent screenshots of third-party listings to several entertainment producers and Vegas hotels, informing them of the exorbitant “resale” rates that these sites were charging for their readily-available shows. To date, I’ve received only two responses, one of which stated “Thank you for sharing this with me.  This has been noted.” The other claimed no knowledge of the situation but did not seem compelled to look into it.

I also reached out two weeks ago to one of these sites through their contact page, requesting information and answers for this article. Specifically, how they could justify selling seats at vastly inflated prices despite widespread availability at their point of origin. There has been no response.

With everyone else seemingly mum on the issue, I asked the aforementioned show producer why they felt anyone would utilize a service that sometimes charges double or triple the face value for easily obtainable shows. They stated that these resellers are “preying on the uninformed, or simply (relying) on advertising and search engine results. It’s plain and simple scamming (of) people. I get it if you want a ticket to a sold-out show — you pay a premium for that. But this isn’t that….this is just scamming people to pay more for a ticket. It’s just plain bad for all of Las Vegas entertainment.”

“At this point with us, it’s fraud because we have informed them their account is frozen and their credit card blocked” he continued. “So they can’t reasonably say they can acquire our tickets. We also changed our TOS (Terms of Service) to disallow transfer or 3rd party sale of ticket(s) without prior authorization.”

FIGHTING THE SCAM – Is Your Vegas Ticketing Site Essentially a Scalper?

While that may work as a temporary strategy to protect his customers from gouging, it appears that this site is only one of an entire collection of similar sites. Megaseats, GotTheTix.com, Tickets.Expert, TicketNetwork Direct, and TicketLiquidator all operate under the same procedures. This has caught the attention of an eagle-eyed member of Reddit.com:

“I work in tech support and we had a client today that was trying to print out tickets that he bought from a website called mytickettracker.com. After looking up their name I came across a trust pilot page with nearly 900 reviews with nearly 850 of them being one star. Scrolling through the comments I found that many people were reporting that they never received their tickets and when calling the company, they were (on) hold for seven hours. One user even reported that they had to cancel the credit card they used to buy the tickets had been used fraudulently. After finding their BBB Page was shocked to learn a few things.”

“They have been in operation for almost 19 years. They have 7 alternate business names including Megaseats, GotTheTix.com, Tickets.Expert, TicketNetwork Direct, and TicketLiquidator. They also appear to be manipulating search results to get unwary people to click on them thinking they are going to a legit site (Ticketmaster, Megastubs).”

“They are based out of The USA. Their CEO is someone named Don Vaccaro. Half of the complaints levied against them in the past 3 years came from the last 12 months. With most claiming that they were unable to receive refunds for events canceled due to Rona. This all looks super sketch and these people are losing a ton of money.”

FIGHTING THE SCAM – Is Your Vegas Ticketing Site Essentially a Scalper?

For clarification and insight on this complex matter, I turned to a legitimate discount ticketing agent with over fifteen years of experience. He was aware of the same Vegas-based reseller that the producer had challenged.

“Yes, I’m extremely familiar with them. Their main thing is buying high-end tickets for headliners and sports and then selling them for inflated prices. Legalized scalping. Many of the tickets they actually purchased, so if they don’t sell they lose that money.”

That’s well and good for one-off events, but what about recurring resident shows? “That’s just them fucking people, excuse my language. And since they have such a good domain name, they rank high in Google, and people who don’t know better end up getting ripped off.”

“They actually used to bring us tickets. We would sell them at either face value or 10% off. So at least they wouldn’t be losing everything on the ticket.”

I asked if he had any knowledge of them listing shows for which they had not yet obtained seats. The seller was aware of a particular production in which this company would offer the same seats/rows for every performance.

“I don’t know if they buy the tickets ahead of time. This is just me speculating. My guess is that (name redacted) box office sets those aside for him to sell, and when he sells them he pays. I think it would be too risky to purchase tickets to every performance. And the thing is, even if he’s not expecting to sell, just having them on his website helps his search engine optimization to get higher in Google.”

I had a VEGAS411 associate post as a customer for the same ticket reseller. We purchased two seats for the November 4th performance of MAGIC OF JEN KRAMER at Westgate Las Vegas. We were charged $60 each (plus fees/taxes) for two balcony seats. A quick trip to the official Ticketmaster listing shows that, as of this writing, there are over two dozen balcony seats available for the November 4th performance, all priced at $19.99 plus fees/taxes.

So, they sold us readily-available tickets at three times their face value. Now….remember this disclaimer?

“Our pricing reflects the current market value. The market value price for a ticket can fluctuate regularly and is determined by factors including supply and demand, seat location, date and the difficulty in obtaining a ticket.”
Therein lies your scam. Customers who don’t do their research will believe that they’ve scored a hard-to-come-by show at three times its face value. And when they get there, they’ll most likely be surrounded by empty seats. “Buyer beware” indeed.
FIGHTING THE SCAM – Is Your Vegas Ticketing Site Essentially a Scalper?
The biggest “kicker” is yet to come. The reseller did not acquire the aforementioned tickets through traditional means. The seats that they sold to us were obtained using a “Broker Employee Comp”. What does that mean? They got entirely free by using their retailer privilege. And that, my friends, is most assuredly a serious violation of “Terms of Service”.
FIGHTING THE SCAM – Is Your Vegas Ticketing Site Essentially a Scalper?
You’ve undoubtedly noticed at this point that we’ve refrained from identifying this ticketing reseller by name. That’s for our own legal protection. But we’ve given you the tools to avoid them and other such outlets in favor of those that are trustworthy. If there’s any justice, these pseudo-scalpers will be facing their own legal problems for using trademarks and logos without permission. And that’s a start.
Las Vegas has gained a nasty reputation in recent years. News outlets portray the city as a hotbed for ripoffs, surcharges, gouging, and plummeting amenities. Sadly, many of those claims are true. Those of us who live and work here are just as harmed by these practices as the good people who come for a fun escape.
Please know where your money is going, and do careful research before offering your credit card information. Always look for deals that offer cancellation options and/or price matching. If you have a question about a deal that seems too good to be true, send me an email at samnovak@vegas411.com. And if you suspect you’ve been duped by a Vegas service or entity, check out Gunnar McDixie’s VEGAS JUSTICE column right here. We may be able to help.
FIGHTING THE SCAM – Is Your Vegas Ticketing Site Essentially a Scalper?

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