ST LOUIS – When pop star Ariana Grande announced her 2019 “Sweetener” World Tour would make a stop in St. Louis, Matthew Rector of Mt. Vernon, Illinois knew he’d found the perfect birthday present for his wife.
“She has to work on her birthday, so we decided to celebrate in advance. We were just elated,” Rector said.
Attempting to find the best seats for the best price, Rector said he landed on the online ticket marketplace Viagogo.
“I went and clicked on it and the seats of a lifetime popped up for us for a great deal,” Rector said.
$330 later, the tickets were purchased. Fast forward to Saturday, July 6. Rector, his wife, and their friends are entering the Enterprise Center.
“(The employee) scans it and he almost let my wife in and he’s like, ‘Hold on a second.’ Right then I just knew,” Rector said. “Then scanned my ticket and the emotions were just like, ‘Whoa, this is really happening.’”
Rector said they were taken to the box office where they learned their tickets were frauds.
“He looked it up and said this was bought with a fraudulent card. The tickets had been canceled. You’re not going to be able to come in,” Rector said.
It was a gut-wrenching realization that quickly became an education. Rector learned Viagogo has a troubled history with its customers. In May 2018, a member of parliament in the United Kingdom warned against buying tickets from the company. In the United States, Viagogo has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau.
“You can get your money back but you have to read the fine print. You must report it in 48 hours. If you don’t report it in 48 hours, you’re done,” Rector said.
He says it was a struggle but he eventually got his money back. He also got a crash course in the dangers of e-commerce.
“You have to be careful in this day and age with a lot of companies. Just because it’s at the top of the list, looks legit, you are putting $10,000 on 22 black on the roulette table,” Rector said.
It turns out Rector wasn’t the only one burned by fake tickets at the Ariana Grande concert. Enterprise Center officials said they encountered more than a dozen fraudulent tickets that night. As you’d expect, more high-profile acts bring more phony tickets to the marketplace. That’s why experts say to buy your tickets from the venue whenever possible. Always beware of below-market pricing. Cheap ticket ads will often appear online and some of these ads are going to be scams, especially if the prices are low. Check to see if the online seller is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. NATB members offer a 200 percent guarantee on tickets.