As tickets for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games officially went on sale Thursday night, the Vancouver organizing committee says its legal team is looking into a Winnipeg travel company allegedly selling tickets to the Games that it does not have.
Roadtrips, a Winnipeg company that specializes in sports travel, is offering tickets to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler on its website.
"Roadtrips offers tickets to every Winter Games event, including the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies," said the company website.
But the executive vice-president of revenue, marketing and communications for the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, Dave Cobb, said that's a promise Roadtrips isn't in a position to make.
"They've not been assigned or allocated any tickets, and any tickets they've been promised would be violating the ticket contracts we have with whoever they're getting the tickets from," Cobb said Thursday.
"People need to be very careful of counting on those types of commitments when these people have no relationship with the Games," he said.
No tickets in Beijing
Roadtrips has put a disclaimer on its website saying it has no affiliation with the Olympics.
But the company has had trouble delivering on its promises in the past, according to one U.S. lawyer.
Jim Moriarty said he is representing hundreds of people who tried to buy tickets to Olympic events in Beijing this past summer from Roadtrips and several other online ticket brokers, only to allegedly be left empty-handed.
The buyers arrrived at the Summer Games after paying tens of thousands of dollars for opening ceremony ticket packages, only to be told no tickets were available, alleged Moriarty.
"People had planned their trips, spending tens of thousands of dollars on these packages, but the day before they discover not only are there no tickets, there's no way to replace them," he said Thursday.
"On their brochure and on their website they say they can guarantee Olympic tickets packages … never disclosing they're simply brokering tickets," he said.
It's buyer beware if you plan to buy tickets to the Olympics from anyone other than the organizers, both Moriarty and Cobb advise.
"It's a good example of companies who make promises and guarantees, when it is questionable that they can deliver," said Cobb.
"Anybody who buys tickets from anybody beside the official site of the Olympics runs the risk of having this same experience happen to them," said Moriarty.
CBC News calls to Roadtrips were not returned.
Official website flooded with requests
Meanwhile, within hours of its launch, the official website handling ticket sales for the 2010 Games was receiving a flood of requests.
The organizing committee's website began accepting ticket requests at midnight Pacfic Time Thursday night and the vice-president in charge of ticket sales, Caley Denton, said traffic on the site has jumped dramatically.
"When we flicked the switch we had 30 times our normal volume, and it's been steady all night, throughout the country," Denton said Friday morning.
Denton was unable to say which events were the most popular, but said fans don't have to rush into buying tickets because they won't be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
"We think people are understanding that it's not a race, however they are curious to go in and have a look and register," he said.
Fans have until Nov. 7 to order tickets for events or to choose prepackaged ticket bundles. A lottery will then be held where the demand for certain events exceeds the supply of seats.
The organizing committee has said it will also set up a website next year where unwanted tickets can be resold with a guarantee they are not counterfeit.
In September 2007, Vancouver-based ticket broker ShowTimeTickets.com advertised ticket for sale for 2010 events.
The offer was changed to allow interested buyers to register their interest in buying tickets at a later date, after CBC contacted the company about the sales.
The 2010 Winter Games will be held in Vancouver and Whistler Feb. 12-28.