Experts recommend buying direct when purchasing online event tickets

Though they’re selling a lot of tickets, the team’s philosophy is that it shouldn’t cost more money to have a lot of fun.
Published: Jul. 24, 2023 at 6:00 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 24, 2023 at 7:12 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Buying tickets online for events is a convenient way to make sure you and your family can find some summer fun, but it’s important to keep an eye out for third-party sites and even scams when looking for the best deals.

It’s currently the height of the season for the Charleston RiverDogs and this week they’re slated for several home games at Joe Riley park.

Though they’re selling a lot of tickets, the team’s philosophy is that it shouldn’t cost more money to have a lot of fun.

“Our goal is to make the experience here family-friendly and affordable. So, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to come out and have a great time at the ballpark,” Vice President of the RiverDogs Ben Abzug said.

The best price guaranteed for a game comes directly from them at

But if you just search for “RiverDogs tickets” that might not be your only or even first choice that pops up.

“No fault of the consumer in most cases. It’s really easy to get tricked and not know where you are,” Abzug said.

It comes down to search engine optimization.

“It’s a pay to play,” Sam Bays, Vice President of Ticket Sales for the Charleston Stingrays, said. “So, the more money a company’s willing to spend with Google on any given day pushes their search further up in the algorithm.”

“We simply can’t compete with national companies who are spending millions of dollars,” Abzug said. “I have seen for those eight-dollar general admission tickets people spending as much as 30 or 50 dollars a pop.”

For one Friday RiverDogs home game earlier this month, a ticket in the same section that was valued at $10 on the official RiverDogs site, cost $39 on a third-party seller’s site.

That’s more than 3 times the cost.

Not only might these tickets be more expensive, but they come with narrow protections.

“There’s a limited amount of customer support that we can provide because you didn’t buy the tickets from us,” Abzug said.

The good news is that digital sales have cut down on fake tickets according to Bays who’s worked in the industry for about two decades.

“I’d see fraudulent tickets all the time, now I don’t remember the last time I saw one because of the fact that we have digital ticketing,” Bays said.

But it can still be possible.

President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau for Central South Carolina and Charleston Chris Hadley says consumers should always be aware of where they’re buying from and make sure it’s legit, especially for high-demand events.

You can find more resources and information on buying tickets online at the National Association of Ticket Brokers.

Bays also says tickets tend to be at a higher cost, farther out from an event.

Consumers should always check all of their bases and compare costs, Hadley says.

Bays, Abzug and Hadley all agree that direct is usually best.

“We always encourage folks that they can, to try to buy locally, of course not everyone’s going to be able to go down to the ticket box and buy their tickets, but you can certainly visit their website,” Hadley said.

“The smart consumer buys directly from us, you’re gonna get the best deal,” Abzug said.