How to avoid overpaying for your tickets or getting done by touts

A hand holding up sports tickets

Ticket reselling or ticket touting has existed as long as live events have sold tickets. The cheeky chancer, the seasoned professional, the dodgy bloke brazenly selling tickets in front of a policemen on the walk up the ground; Ticket Touts exist wherever there is a demand for an event. This article is not a ‘never buy from touts’ because unfortunately they are always going to be around, and you may need them for the next big event – This is all about how to not get ‘mugged off’ by a ticket tout including things to look out for and some tips to avoid overpaying for your tickets.

Before we start its worth calling out that there are now 2 main ticket touts that seem to exist. There are the online professionals who use bots and multiple accounts to buy lots of tickets to big events and then sell on sites such as Viagogo, Stubhub and Getmein. These people make a profession of the trading of tickets for events people want to see. The other kind is the traditional ticket tout. These are the geezers hanging around football grounds on match days, the people calling out ‘buy and selling tickets’ on the walk to the race ground. The traditionals can then be sub-categorised into the chancers (happen to have an extra ticket and just want to get their money back) and the seasoned pro’s who rip you off with high prices.

So now we know the players, how can we beat them at the game (or at least get a fair deal to see the event you want to see)

Pre the day

Pre-sales and early releases:

Now this is fairly obvious one but worth mentioning as it means you don’t even have to interact with a re-seller. Get in early, register for pre-sale and do you research on when tickets are coming out, set up alerts and make sure you are ready for that morning rush. Tickets for sporting events and gigs will generally have a first release followed by multiple releases over the next few weeks and months. Get a good internet connection, have your bank details ready, have a 2nd cup of coffee so you are fully prepared for that 9am rush. And with a bit of luck youll get your hands on the tickets for that event you are desperate to see.

Perfect this art and you’ll be In with a great chance of bagging the best live seats.

Face Value ticket resellers:

You have missed the original sale and couldn’t get your hands on any across the new releases, where can you turn? There are more and more websites being set up to rival those traditional 2nd hand ticket sales sites previously mentioned but with a difference. Companies such as Twickets, Vibe Tickets and Scarlett Mist have been set up to undermine the Viagogo’s of the world by providing a service where genuine fans can return tickets for events they can no longer go to.

These sites will then resell tickets at face or lower than face value so the original owner can get their money back while the prospective fan can pick up a ticket for a good price. These are really good sites when the event you are looking are on here however this can often be their limitations. The big events, the blockbuster boxing bouts, the big Six Nations games etc are not always going to be available on these sites. However definitely worth a look before you shell out twice as much on one of the other sites.

Suck it up and pay the beans:

If the first two are not an option but you want guaranteed legitimate tickets to the event, you may have to swallow your pride and fork out the big bucks for your ticket via one of the ticket resellers such as Viagogo and Stubhub. While you may be paying more than face value, you can be sure that your tickets are legit, will arrive on time and get you a good spot.

AS I writing this article I can still see England football tickets at the Euros next year for £200-£300 (250% more than face value) but can you really put a price on a boozy day out seeing them scrape a dirty 1-0 win against Scotland in the Wembley sunshine.

Sometimes the experience is worth way more than the price, and my view is if you really want to be there it’s the next best method to bag a ticket.

On the day

So you haven’t been able to get a ticket online, your final chance to get in is to rock up to the ground, track or venue with the hope I can get one outside. You are now entering cowboy country. Every man for himself, a land filled with outlaws, con artists, the occasional helpful stranger but by and large a place to keep your wits about you so as to not get ‘mugged off’. Here are some tips on how to stay savvy, sensible and not get done when buying some tickets at the ground:

‘Buying and selling tickets’ Blokes:

The blokes shouting this on the walk down to the track or ground are likely seasoned professionals. They are incredibly overt in their approach, no care for the police lining the streets and they most likely have a slightly dodgy look about them. Believe it or not, these guys are probably fairly trustworthy – They are buying multiple tickets off punters who have an extra ticket and then selling on for a tidy profit.

Yes you may pay slightly over the face value, but these guys are like a New York trader’s room; constantly spinning tickets all the way up to the start of the event. You will buy a legit ticket right by the ground and can enjoy the day with your mates.


These are normally people who have brought too many tickets (their mate can’t come/dumped recently by girlfriend) and are now trying to quickly offload it to recuperate some beer/wine money for the day. These sellers can come in all shapes and sizes making it more difficult to generalise and tell you what to do.

My view if trust your judgement here. Do they seem like a genuine person, have they got a realistic backstory that explains why they got dumped last week? Whatever it is, trust your gut feeling and make the deal if it feels right to you. With these guys you should be able to pay close to face value or even less depending on the situation as they generally just want to get rid.

The counterfeits:

The scumbags of the sporting and ticketing world. The counterfeits are here to mug you off, take your money and leave you watching the event in a pub nearby while your mates enjoy the best night of their lives. More likely to be found around the one-off big events – FA Cup Finals, Heavyweight boxing fights, ashes series. The counterfeiters will target these events by knowing what the tickets will look like to create fakes to distribute on the day.

By appearance, they may be difficult to identify. Most likely they will be nice, charming and get you talking to draw attention away from the dodgy ticket. At these moments, regardless of how many train beers you have had, you need to make sure you look carefully at the ticket before you hand over the cash.

Compare with your mates tickets if they have one, look at the bar codes, look at the hologram, look at the text, font, spelling, price, small print – everything you can to make sure the tickets are legit. If the seller gets shifty and starts rushing you, it may be a sign you have fake in your grasp.

Be confident in your gut feeling and if it doesn’t feel right, just move on

Top Tips

Pre the day

  • Set your reminders and be on the ball when finding tickets online – do your research, plan your day around the releases and hopefully you can get one
  • Use your mates – On the day of release make sure all of your friends are trying to get tickets. This will increase your chanceof getting through
  • Shop around – There are lots of vendors specialising now in 2nd hand tickets. Do your research and you should be able to find the tickets you are looking for if you are happy to pay slightly over the original value

On the Day

  • Trust your judgement – if the person seems dodgy, if the ticket looks weird, if the story seems odd – go with your gut and find a ticket elsewhere
  • For the best price, buy your ticket as late as possible – the closer to the start time, the value of that ticket is decreasing for the tout. They need to get rid of it eventually so the longer you can hang on, the more power for negotiation you have
  • Prepare to be disappointed – Worse case should be that you can’t get in and have to watch in a pub. Don’t let it be pub and £200 spent on a fake ticket

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