November 13, 2019
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How not to get scammed when buying tickets to Maine’s outdoor concerts this summer

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Concertgoers dance during Cyndi Lauper at Darling's Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor in July 2017.

The first shows of outdoor concert season in Maine are finally on the horizon, with Old Dominion at Thompson’s Point in Portland on Thursday, Anderson .Paak at the Maine Savings Pavilion in Westbrook on Sunday and Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor on Saturday, June 1.

In most cases, concertgoers won’t have any trouble getting into a venue with their tickets. But there are inevitably some who will find themselves stuck with fraudulent tickets, or with tickets from unauthorized third parties that cost much more than face value.

The main takeaway is that Ticketmaster is the only approved ticketing agent for the above venues. Making sure that you buy tickets through Ticketmaster is the easiest way to ensure there will be no snags getting into the show.

Randy Dufour, director of ticketing for Waterfront Concerts, which books both the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion and the Maine Savings Pavilion, said that working with customers who are frustrated about ticketing snafus is one of the least fun parts of his job.

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Customers may have spent hundreds of dollars on tickets, as well as money on gas, lodging, food and other travel expenses — only to show up at the venue to discover their tickets are fakes, or are labeled as front row seats but have a barcode that’s actually for a lawn seat.

“I always try to make sure they understand why they are having this problem, and I try to work with them to make sure they can get in and see the show,” said Dufour. “We want them to have a good time. We don’t want them to go home upset. But we need to educate people.”

Customers who wish to purchase tickets to a Waterfront Concerts show, or to any show promoted by Bowery Presents, which books Thompson’s Point and other Maine venues, should always buy their tickets directly through Ticketmaster, either online or through an authorized Ticketmaster box office, Dufour said.

Micky Bedell | BDN
Micky Bedell | BDN
Jimmy Buffett plays a concert at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion on the Bangor Waterfront in August 2016.

Furthermore, customers should, if they can, opt for an e-ticket to be displayed on their phone, rather than a paper ticket. E-tickets are more secure, and cannot be duplicated. The barcodes that show up on your phone are regenerated every 12 seconds. Once one is generated, it can never be used again. That’s different from a paper ticket, which uses bar codes that are much easier for scammers to duplicate.

Using an e-ticket also means that customers will not print out the wrong document. Dufour says many customers often print out their receipt, rather than their actual ticket, and then are upset when they are denied entry at the concert, and have to scramble to show the right document.

Ticketmaster has shifted its focus from paper tickets and brick-and-mortar box offices to online sales and e-tickets, but some less digitally savvy customers may not be used to the idea of using their smartphone as a ticket.

“There are folks that haven’t been to a concert in 20 years, and they are coming to see a show for the first time in all that time this summer. They may not know about this technology,” Dufour said.

Googling the phrase “Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion” results in a number of third-party sites in the first page of results, including ones that mimic the actual site.

“People should pay attention to the actual URL in your browser. It will always say Ticketmaster.com or WaterfrontConcerts.com. It will not say anything else,” Dufour said.

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Tool fans sing along during their show at the Darling's Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor in May 2017.

Elissa Young, marketing director for Waterfront Concerts, said customers should similarly make sure that any Facebook page, event invite or other social media accounts they use to search for tickets are associated with the specific venue or promoter — in their case, Waterfront Concerts and the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.

“A lot of third-party sites will make their own Facebook event, with a carbon copy of the wording in our official event but linking to their resale site, so it can be hard to tell what is correct,” said Young. “Just always check who is hosting it. If it’s not us, it’s a scalper.”

Buying from a third party also complicates the process for a refund, should a show be canceled. Waterfront Concerts does not issue refunds — Ticketmaster does. If a ticket is not purchased through Ticketmaster, it can be difficult to claim a refund.

In some cases, it can be tempting to use a third-party site when tickets for certain shows sell out quickly — as they did for country superstar Chris Stapleton, whose July 26 show at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion sold out in a matter of hours. Tickets to that show are available on ticket resale sites, but most cost between $30 and $40 more than the face value, in addition to various fees resellers tack on.

Though the technology used today is advanced, ticket resale sites are the modern-day equivalent of the ticket scalpers who would stand outside of venues decades ago. Fraud, fakes and grossly inflated prices come with the territory, and Dufour cautions that the buyer should always beware.

“Proceed at your own risk,” Dufour said. “You just need to be an educated customer. It’s like if you bought a designer bag from a guy on the street. Do you really expect it to be a real Coach bag?”

Watch: Ticket broker talks about new Maine concert venue



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