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Beware Playoff ticket scams

The St. Louis branch of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning Cardinals fans to beware of fake ticket and hotel reservation scams during the playoffs. Cardinals management said the best way to avoid being scammed is to buy tickets from a reputable source.

“The one thing we always recommend is always know who you’re purchasing your tickets from,” said Cardinals Director of Media Relations, Ron Watermon. “Buy from a trusted source. We obviously would like for fans to purchase their tickets through the Cardinals, but we understand there is a robust secondary market. Make sure you know the buyer and trust the buyer.”

The Cardinals and MLB partner with StubHub, a ticket reseller that enables fans to buy and sell tickets to tens of thousands of sports, concert, theater and other live entertainment events. All transactions processed and delivered by StubHub are backed by the company’s guarantee.

“The advantage to purchasing through StubHub as opposed to another ticket broker is that we will honor the ticket at the ballpark. Even is there is some kind of mistake we’re able to work through that,” Waterman said.

According to a BBB press release, the opportunity for sports fans to be scammed by fake ticket sellers 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 get burned by purchasing counterfeit tickets or paying in advance for tickets that never arrive,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “Hotel scams may involve invalid reservations or rooms advertised as close to the ballpark that either don’t exist or are nowhere near downtown.”

Fans spend more than $10 billion a year purchasing tickets through secondary channels. This amount includes tickets bought and sold by professional brokers and those resold by season ticket holders. The BBB said they receive hundreds of complaints every year concerning tickets schemes.

“The Internet has become the arena of choice for sports fans looking to buy or sell tickets,” Corey said. “Unfortunately, it also has become a breeding ground for scammers.”

Booking a hotel room, as anyone who has tried during postseason in St. Louis knows, can be a difficult if not impossible task. Reputable accommodations near the ballpark will fill to capacity quickly, but the BBB advises fans to still use reputable sites or direct channels for reservations. Many third party sites and less reputable establishments will not allow a refund even if the room is not as described in the posting.

“Sports fans may be anxious to get a hotel room near the ballpark, without weighing the cost or the possibility that the advertised room doesn’t exist,” Corey said. “Scammers may advertise low prices – or they may charge a premium by claiming that the hotel is close to the ballpark when it isn’t. Others may offer tickets with the hotel room, but you have little or no way of verifying whether the tickets are real.”

The following are some BBB tips for finding housing for the playoffs or other events:

• 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.

• 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 website 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.

• Use a credit card to make your reservation. A credit card company can assist you with obtaining a refund if the offer turns out to be fraudulent or if there are other problems with the accommodation.

• 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 or by calling 314-645-3300.

• 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 or by calling 314-645-3300.

The Daily Journal has made a commitment to keep readers abreast of scams that hit our area. If someone tries to make you the victim of a scam, submit details at (click on the Scam logo) or call us at 431-2010 and tell us what happened.

We will try to include your story in our scam alert series to prepare others who may find themselves in the same situation.

Pat Pratt is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010 ext. 172 or

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