Purchasing tickets online is proving increasingly popular and convenient for sports fans, but there are risks if they choose the wrong supplier. 

"The upcoming 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand is an event where many Australians are looking to secure tickets that are in high demand," ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell said today.  "But fans who buy scalped tickets through un-authorised channels may be refused admission or even evicted from the venue without refund or compensation.

While official event organisers and their authorised ticket sellers have a strong online presence, so too do ticket 'scalpers', engaging in unauthorised reselling of tickets at prices higher than the original ticket price. Major sports events may also attract scam operators seeking to take advantage of the strong demand for tickets. 

Consumers must be alert to scalpers using official looking logos and trademarks on their websites to lure customers into thinking the site is official and that they are an authorised seller.  Consumers should check whether the website is an authorised seller before buying.

"Tickets sold by authorised sellers often carry conditions that restrict their resale or transfer above face value.  Such tickets may be cancelled and ticketholders refused entry to events," Mr Kell said.  "Not only do consumers risk being turned away at the venue, they may not get the seats they've ordered, or they may not even get their ticket.

"Fans looking to go to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup should take care when buying match tickets, so as not to face costly disappointment."

Fans should also be on the lookout for fake ticketing websites or email scams that may falsely claim to be part of a Rugby World Cup 2011 lottery, prize draw or competition.

"Past experience with major sporting events, such as the Soccer World Cup, indicates that scammers operating online will seek to take advantage of consumers wanting tickets."

"Consumers can avoid these risks by buying tickets through the official Rugby World Cup tournament organiser or from an authorised agent," Mr Kell said.

The ACCC is working in close collaboration with consumer protection agencies in the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) and Rugby World Cup Limited to combat scams and alert fans. This includes work with the New Zealand Commerce Commission to educate consumers who are planning to attend the World Cup.

Rugby World Cup Limited Managing Director Mike Miller has welcomed action by the global network to crack down on fraudsters.

"We really appreciate the initiative of ICPEN in helping protect consumers from fraudulent and deceptive sales of Rugby World Cup 2011 tickets. We all have the common aim of protecting fans from around the world who simply want to enjoy rugby's showcase event," Mr Miller said.

The ACCC has a number of publications for consumers and businesses regarding online selling and shopping on its website.   For more information and tips on how to protect yourself from online scams visit the SCAMwatch website www.scamwatch.gov.au

The NSW Office of Fair Trading has also recently published a general information brochure for ticket buyers Buying Tickets and Ticket Scalping, available at the NSW OFT website, www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au .

When buying Rugby World Cup 2011 tickets or ticket-inclusive packages fans should be aware of that:

  • individual tickets can only be purchased from Rugby New Zealand 2011 Limited.
  • official travel packages (including match tickets) are available from one of the appointed Official Travel Agents, see www.rth2011.com
  • official hospitality packages (including match tickets) are available from one of the appointed Official Corporate Hospitality Agents, see www.rth2011.com.

Online buyers should:

  • be aware of how and when tickets for the event are being distributed by checking with the event organiser, promoter or venue where the event will be held
  • check the terms and conditions for collecting tickets to ensure it uses the official Rugby World Cup 2011 collection process
  • be aware that the official logo and trademarks (or their look-a-likes) of the event can be used to lure customers into thinking the site is official and they are an authorised seller
  • be wary of sites that 'guarantee' tickets
  • check what are others saying about the website - search the internet to find out what other people's experiences have been, and
  • always print out a copy of your order and a copy of the acknowledgement you should receive when you place your order.

The ICPEN is an informal network of consumer protection law enforcement authorities from over 40 economies.

ICPEN provides a forum where authorities can cooperatively share information and look to combat consumer problems which arise with cross border transactions in goods and services, such as e-commerce fraud and international scams.  Its key activities include Fraud Prevention Month, International ICPEN Internet Sweeps and the Econsumer.gov site.

The ICPEN membership is Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, EFTA Secretariat, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, OECD Secretariat, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States of America.