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Coronavirus: Ticketholder for postponed NHL game struggles to get refund

Ticketholder for postponed NHL game struggles to get refund
The COVID-19 outbreak has forced the postponement of concerts and sporting events around the world. As Consumer Matters reporter Anne Drewa explains, getting a refund on tickets is not always easy.

A B.C. woman is still waiting for a refund on tickets to a Vancouver Canucks game in Las Vegas that was supposed to take place in March.

“I just feel like I need an answer,” Laurie Lakusta said.

Ticketmaster criticized for policy on events impacted by COVID-19
Ticketmaster criticized for policy on events impacted by COVID-19

Back in October, Lakusta purchased three tickets at a cost of US$754.24 for the March 23 game between the Canucks and Golden Knights at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Lakusta purchased the tickets on the Ticketmaster website where the tickets came from Flash Seats/AXS, an official third-party seller.

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The National Hockey League paused the 2019-20 season on March 12 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“If there is a game, there’s definitely not going to be fans allowed to watch the game and even if that was the case, the borders are closed. Travel is not even an option to get there,” Lakusta said. “So I’m kind of stuck.”

READ MORE: Ticketmaster, other ticket portals still selling access to cancelled concerts

Lakusta was told the event has been postponed, but she wants a refund. Since she used Ticketmaster as the platform to purchase the tickets she reached out to the company requesting a refund and received the following response:

“Since you purchased tickets from another fan, refunds are not available; however, you have the opportunity to try and resell your ticket and may also have the option to transfer it to someone else if the option is available through your flash seats account.”

READ MORE: Canadian Transportation Agency clarifies statement on travel vouchers during COVID-19 pandemic

Lakusta says she is shocked Ticketmaster isn’t more accountable.

“That is kind of a ridiculous statement to give somebody in the conditions that we’re at,” she said.

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She says the response she received from third-party seller AXS wasn’t much better.

“I just got an auto-reply with all kinds of information, confusing information and in one statement they do refer me to the original source for the tickets which would be Ticketmaster,” Lakusta said.

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Ticket broker Kingsley Bailey of Vancouver Ticket says both Ticketmaster and third-party seller AXS need to take responsibility.

“At the end of the day, the customer contacted Ticketmaster,” he said.

“Ticketmaster gave them the official site on who would sell them the ticket, so they went and purchased the ticket so there’s a bit of accountability on both AXS as well as Ticketmaster to give this customer their money back. It peeves me off that they are able to get away with passing the buck.”

READ MORE: Cancelled or postponed? Fans rage over Ticketmaster refund policy amid COVID-19

Bailey adds the current laws around ticket-buying in B.C. don’t go far enough.

“When a company can arbitrarily make the decision when to give a customer a refund that’s a problem. It’s basically the wolf in the hen house. It’s not fair and it’s not right,” he said.

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Industry insiders have told Consumer Matters the NHL is still working through planning its season and recommends fans hold on to their tickets until event organizers set a new date. At that point fans can decide if they want to still attend the game or resell their tickets. If the event is cancelled, they will receive a refund automatically.

Ticketmaster has more information about refund options here.