The First 2012 Olympic Ticket Scam

15th March 2011  


As tickets go on sale today for the 2012 London Olympics many must be wondering why there hasn’t been more of a public outcry over the slightly discriminatory sponsorship deal the London 2012 Organisers have done with credit card processing house VISA.

The arrangement, which was labelled as the first big Olympic ticket scam well before anyone thought about printing the tickets, is said to be worth £10 million to the London 2012 coffers.

London olympics ticket scamIt means anyone who wants to buy Olympic tickets online in the UK will have to do so using a VISA based credit card or debit card. The agreement will also affect those buying merchandise or indeed drawing cash or making payments in the 2012 Olympic village. Those ordering online from abroad aren’t subject to the same VISA centric rules.

The VISA commercial agreement was signed in September 2009 when many of us probably weren’t tuned into the Olympic news flow, and it’s only now starting to draw cries of disbelief from members of the public. Some commentators still seem to be unaware of the full implications of the small print.

Some 6.6 million Olympic tickets will be made available over the next 6 weeks, and organisers have made a public statement that “all applications will be treated equally”. Unless, it appears, the prospective ticket purchaser doesn’t have a VISA based credit card or debit card.

If you don’t have a VISA based credit or debit card we compare the best prepaid VISA cards here . This is an inexpensive way of getting a VISA based card with no long term financial commitment – this will enable you to order Olympic tickets online easily.

Tickets start at a reasonable £20 and go up to a staggering £2,012 and even then some events are expected to be oversubscribed.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is looking into the sponsorship deal. An official statement said

“The OFT and the European Commission are aware of these issues and are currently in discussion about what action, if any, should be taken.”

VISA has been the official credit card for Olympic events since the Seoul games in 1988. A spokesman for London 2012 confirmed this kind of arrangement was normal.

VISA will be the official credit card and payment system for London 2012, in the same way as for the Beijing Games in 2008 and the Vancouver Games earlier this year. VISA has been a top partner for 24 years, so this is not new.”

London 2012 say they wouldn’t be able to stage the games here without these kind of corporate sponsorship contracts.

Members of the public who don’t have an existing VISA credit card or debit card can apply for tickets in writing with the official paper ticket application form. Tickets bought this way can be paid for using cash or cheque. The forms are available through local branches of Lloyds Bank or through Bank of Scotland in Scotland only.

You can also get a Prepaid VISA card online today through our website with no credit check or long term financial commitment. You can compare prepaid VISA cards on our prepaid credit cards page.

VISA is the dominant debit card supplier in the UK with 53 million customers compared with 17.5 million for MasterCard. For credit cards however, MasterCard apparently has more customers with 36 million card holders, compared with 22 million for VISA.

VISA’s sponsorship isn’t purely for altruistic reasons. With ticket sales alone expected to top £500 million over the period of the event, it’s clear that VISA will recuperate a large part of its original sponsorship investment through processing fees as well as the overall brand awareness gained from the headline sponsorship deal.

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