Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

How Student Seats is tackling ticket scams

CW / Caroline Simmons
Students cheer in the student section at a home football game.

As the end of the spring semester approaches, it grows closer to the time of the year every Alabama student waits for: football season. But with the risk of getting scammed looming over students’ heads, it’s hard to relax and enjoy the excitement of fall football.  

Many students, including freshman special education major Dakota Wilson, have had experiences where they were asked to send money to a person they thought they could trust but never received the tickets.  

“They [Wilson’s friend] were going to buy tickets from someone, and then she sent them the money and never got the tickets,” Wilson said.  

In 2022, the Better Business Bureau received over 140 reports of ticket scams and urged the public to be safe and smart when sending money to people they didn’t know.  

Alabama alumni Jared Waller and John Ritondo saw this issue and created Student Seats as a way for students to exchange tickets safely without the risk of getting scammed out of potentially hundreds of dollars. 

During their junior year at Alabama, the two, who were management and information sciences majors, paired together on a project that, just four years later, allowed students to safely trade over $1.4 million worth of tickets.  

“It started as a class project,” Waller said. “Then, in 2020, with COVID happening, all the tickets were getting very highly priced. We got about 500 users in the first four days of turning it on, but we ended up selling, I think, eight tickets on it. It was a very small handful. And then, each year, it’s just compounded on itself and become the norm at Bama.” 

The business model is simple: First, a student will list their ticket on the site at the price of their choosing. After that, a buyer chooses the ticket and gives the money to Student Seats as a neutral third party. Student Seats will then release the funds to the seller once the buyer has confirmed they received the ticket.  

Because Student Seats acts as a buffer between the buyer and seller, there is less possibility of getting scammed; if the buyer doesn’t get the ticket, they get all their money back, fees included.  

There isn’t just protection for those buying tickets, though; sellers also have an extra layer of security as Student Seats will let them know once it has received the money, and the process of transferring the ticket in myBama is safe.   

While the application creates a safer way to engage in ticket trading, some students, like freshman economics major Connor Kulawiak, acknowledge it’s not a perfect system.  

“People love to upsell their tickets,” Kulawiak said, “especially on the day before the games.” 

But the ticket prices aren’t set by Student Seats. It’s about how much each student is listing their tickets for. For some games, tickets can cost several hundred dollars. 

Luckily for students, there are ways around high prices. According to Waller and Ritondo, tickets are usually sold for the most on the Thursday and Friday before game day, but prices go down on the day of the game because once the game starts, the ticket is practically worthless.  

“At the end of the day, it comes down to supply and demand,” Ritondo said. “We don’t control that, and we’ve built it in every possible way that we can to incentivize cheaper tickets. It’s tough.” 

The incentive for lower ticket prices lies within the website model. If a seller wants a ticket to sell fast, Waller said, they must make it cheaper than everyone else’s to reach the top of the list, where potential buyers are most likely to see it.  

While students can take steps to avoid paying top dollar, another problem that isn’t as easily remedied is the fees associated with buying tickets. 

Waller and Ritondo affirm that the fees are as low as possible and that students are paying for peace of mind and avoiding losing out on a lot more money. 

“You’re going to probably buy more than a handful of tickets during your time at UA,” Ritondo said. “You may give us $20 to $30 in fees across all the tickets you buy. But if you get scammed once, you could lose hundreds of dollars.”  

Despite some students’ issues with the application, many agree that it is better than the alternative of risking getting scammed in GroupMe chats and Facebook groups. 

“I think Student Seats is great for freshmen because if a student isn’t able to go to a game, they can make a little money from the ticket they have instead of donating it,” said freshman nursing major Campbell Hawthorne. “I used it for a lot of games last season and never felt like I was getting scammed.”  

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