SOUTHFIELD — With the Tigers in the World Series, fans are ripe for ticket scams.
So the Better Business Bureau of Detroit & Eastern Michigan is warning sports fans to be alert for scammers selling bogus tickets or hotel reservations.
BBB says the secondary ticket market is now a $15 billion-a-year industry — and the source of hundreds of BBB complaints a year.
BBB says ticket scamming occurs most often when people buy tickets from individuals outside the stadium, on the street or through online auctions, classified ads and bulletin boards. Sports fans can be scammed by purchasing counterfeit tickets or paying in advance for tickets that never arrive.
In addition, hotel scams may involve invalid reservations or rooms advertised as close to the ballpark that either don’t exist or are nowhere near downtown.
The BBB’s database of BBB Business Reviews includes reputable, secondary market ticket firms that provide buyer protections, including some that offer money-back guarantees if tickets are fake. On some sites, sellers also must provide credit-card numbers so the site can charge a seller’s card for the cost of replacement tickets if they sell fake tickets.
“Any time you are dealing with a secondary market ticket firm, or someone claiming to be, make sure they are a National Association of Ticket Broker (NATB) member as their members pledge to follow ethical rules and procedures to protect the public,” said Hildy Randolph, SellTicketService, a BBB accredited business.
The Detroit Tigers have their own Web site, at this link, (http://detroit.tigers.mlb.com/det/ticketing/postseason_info.jsp) for selling tickets held by season ticket holders.
The BBB advises fans to ask lots of questions and be wary of an offer that sounds too good to be true or that requires wiring money. When you send money by wire, it is almost impossible to get it back or to trace the recipient, who may be overseas.
The following are some BBB tips for buying tickets or finding housing for the World Series or other events:
For ticket purchasing:
* Read any ads carefully, making sure you understand what is being offered and what the total price will be.
* Ask the seller where he or she is located and how he or she may be contacted after the sale. If the seller is evasive, don’t pursue the offer.
* Do your research. Know the price of tickets and be familiar with the seating chart of the arena.
* Only purchase from reputable sources.
* Ask to see the seller’s original invoice from when the tickets were purchased.
* Try to meet the seller in person in a public place during the day.
* If you are purchasing online, use either a credit card or a PayPal account. Both of those options offer some protection if the tickets are fake.
* Don’t send cash or wire money to anyone you don’t know.
* Never be afraid to ask questions or request information.
* Check to make sure the firm is an NATB member.
For hotel reservations:
* Ask for the name, address and phone number of the hotel where the room is located, and call the hotel to verify that the room actually exists. Check the hotel’s Web site or a well-known travel site to be sure that the location is convenient for getting to and from the ballpark.
* Be wary of ads that pile on incentives to make the package look better. Often the items — such as lanyards, T-shirts or other trinkets – have limited value.
* Again, do your research. A variety of travel guidebooks and online reviews address services and amenities at hotels and motels. Check BBB Business Reviews of hotels by going to www.bbb.org.
* Make sure you get a confirmation number from the business when reserving a room. Also, make sure you know times of check-in and check-out, and clearly understand the type of room you are paying for (smoking or nonsmoking, queen or double beds, regular room or suite, etc.)
* If you have any concern about the quality of a motel or hotel, ask to inspect your room before moving in. You have a better chance to get satisfaction from staff or management if you have not already accepted your room. If you spot a problem, report it to the front desk immediately.
Before doing business with a company, check its BBB Business Review by going to www.bbb.org or by calling (248) 223-9400.