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Ticket buyers, beware: scalpers are out to rip you off

Fake Concert Tickets, Adobe Stock file photo

SANDY — The founders of Hale Center Theatre say scalpers scam ticket buyers, conning them into paying many times above face value for shows.

Ticket scalpers take theatre-goers for a ride

Artistic Director Sally Dietlein says she first became aware of the problem two months ago.  She says a couple showed up with tickets showing a face value of $300 each.  The Christmas show they attended had a max ticket price of $52.

Dietlein says this problem isn’t limited to her theater.  She says the Utah Jazz, Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Tuacahn Amphitheatre in St. George, and all theaters and sporting events across the state are seeing an increase in ‘up-selling.’

“A big issue is educating ticket buyers,” said Dietlein. “Many go on a search engine and type in the name of the play or sporting event they want to see.  Then a bunch of different options pop up, but none of them are from the actual company where the event is taking place.”

Family and friends of some cast members said they couldn’t come to a performance because they couldn’t afford the ticket prices.  Dietlein says it turns out they tried to buy them through Groupon at $150 each.  After it came to their attention, Groupon took down the scalper’s ad.

In another search, Ballet West tickets for Mezzanine 2g seats for a performance of Giselle showed up for over $500 each, on different websites.  The same seat, Mezzanine 2g, on the same date,  sells for $79 at the official Ballet West website.

It’s not just about paying too much

Even worse than ticket scalpers who sell a ticket for more than five times the original price, Dietlein says, is the con artist who sells a ticket that was never purchased. She recalls a couple who showed up with $150 apiece tickets for seats that didn’t exist.

The problem is so pervasive that both the Utah Cultural Alliance and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes are working on ways to curtail third party ticket sales in the Beehive State.  And Dietlein says she’s meeting with a Utah Jazz official next week to discuss solutions.

The message Dietlein wants customers to know is, the best deal isn’t usually with third party websites.  She advises everyone to go directly to the official event website to purchase tickets.

“That way you won’t overpay or buy tickets which don’t actually exist,” she said.

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