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YOUR MONEY
Smart consumer tips and strategies from Eyewitness News Online



Online Ticket Options

The days of standing in line for tickets could soon be the good ole' days you tell your grandchildren. Many sites have popped up on the Internet where you can purchase tickets for most big events. You can do everything from choosing your seat to receiving email alerts when your favorite act is coming to town. How do these sites work?

Preston Gralla, author of Complete Idiot's Guide to Shopping Online, and Calvin Liu, Vice President of Marketing for Ticketmaster, give you some online ticketing tips.

Online Ticketing Tips

Check This! Ticketing Sites

First, find a website that sells tickets. There are many out there in cyberspace, so do your homework and make sure the site is reputable. Here are examples of sites you might want to check out:

Ticketmaster.com

Tickets.com

Ticketsnow.com

When you get to the site, you will most often have a couple of options for searchingby event or by location. For example, you can put in the name of your favorite band and find out where they're playing, or you can plug in the name of a venue and get a schedule of upcoming performances.

Check This! Convenience Charge

"One thing you have to watch out for when you're buying tickets online is the extra convenience charge that they're going to charge you," says expert Preston Gralla. He says the Web sites charge you this fee because they are saving you the time of going to the box office. Gralla points out that the charge tends to vary, and warns for concerts you could be paying as much as $8-$10 extra.

Liu also says that the charges are sometimes based on the artist, venue and location. Ticketmaster started a program in which you can have your tickets emailed to you. The convenience of having your ticket arrive in your in-box will cost only $1.75 per ticket.

Gralla adds you need to keep shipping and handling charges in mind. These charges also vary by site, but they can be substantial. You can sometimes avoid shipping charges by having your tickets sent by regular mail, but you will face substantial charges when you request Federal Express or UPS delivery. Gralla says the best thing for you to do is avoid waiting until the last minute to order your tickets.

Check This! Seating Secrets

To get the best seats, make sure to check out the seating chart before you order your tickets. Gralla suggests printing the chart out and having it in hand when you buy because it can be difficult to see on a computer monitor. If the ticket site doesn't have a seating chart for your event, Gralla says, "Go to the website of the place where you'll actually be at the concert and they'll definitely have a seating chart."

Check This! Ticketing Tools

"Look for the email alerts," says Gralla. He says most sites offer helpful ticketing tools like email alerts to help keep you in the entertainment loop. There are two basic types of alerts. The first tells you "when your favorite performer is going to be in town," says Gralla. The second alert simply tells you who's coming to your town or to a particular venue on a particular date.

Liu says his site, Ticketmaster.com, offers a unique benefit. Say you've purchased tickets to a Broadway play through the site, but can't make it. Instead of going through the hassle getting the tickets and then mailing them to a friend, often you can just email them. Liu says this service will cost you $1.95.

If you are looking for sporting tickets, Liu suggests looking into the ticket exchange program. "We helped professional sports teams create a forum for season ticket holders to sell their tickets to the general public," says Liu. Season ticket holders can post their tickets for resale on their teams' sites, and consumers can come and buy them. There are often extra fees associated with these types of sales.

Smart Idea!Bright Idea! Movie Tickets

Gralla suggests looking online for your movie tickets. This can be extremely valuable for the opening weekend of a big movie. Check out Web sites like Fandango.com and Moviefone.com. Gralla says you can actually print your ticket out at home and head straight for the theater, but you'll pay an extra dollar or two for the service.

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