York State Fair CEO: Buyer beware on third-party ticket reseller sites


YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — Third-party ticket resellers are nothing new — newspaper headlines from the 1800s talk about “sidewalk men” allegedly reselling theater tickets at inflated prices.

What is relatively new: Resellers marketing tickets they don’t yet have, in some cases for concerts whose tickets aren’t even on sale yet. York State Fair CEO said the practice can cause consumers to pay several times the face value of a ticket. And if a concert is canceled — say, because of new COVID-19 regulations — the fair has no way of refunding someone who bought a resold ticket.

“I’ve got no way to get in touch with someone who bought a ticket from a reseller, and I have no way to know if those tickets are going to be good until they get here and we try to scan their ticket and it’s voided because we refunded it to the original purchaser,” Blair said.

Resellers generally promise to refund consumers if a show is canceled, and Blair said their tactics are generally legal – just a bad deal for consumers.

Again, a centuries-old controversy. But now resellers are selling tickets they haven’t yet acquired for shows that aren’t even on sale.

The example Blair gave: a concert by the performer Pitbull, scheduled at the fairgrounds July 25.

Tickets are due to go on sale this Saturday at 10 a.m., priced between $40 and $55, at yorkstatefair.org or by calling 717-848-2596. But on Friday, a Google search for “Pitbull tickets York Fair” resulted in sponsored results for sites offering tickets between $148 and $246. The sites offer sections and ranges of rows, not specific seats, because they don’t have the tickets yet.

Blair said when the tickets go on sale, the resellers will compete against consumers for those tickets. “As far as we know, we’ve sold somebody tickets that are planning to come to the concert,” Blair said. He said the resellers generally receive links to print-at-home tickets, just like any other consumer, and then provide those links to the people who paid the above-face-value prices.

Blair said York is experiencing a broader trend. “I know the Giant Center [in Hershey] has the same issues,” he said, along with other venues. “I mean, we all have this issue with these third-party resellers.”

The best advice? Buy tickets directly from venues or their official ticketing services. In York’s case, that’s etix.com, to which yorkstatefair.org redirects consumers. Blair said to pay close attention to the web address of whatever venue is hosting the event someone wants to attend because reseller sites sometimes create site addresses that look similar.

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