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It took over a year for cross-border concertgoers to finally see ticket refunds

Luc Noel and Bronwen Stenger had separate plans to attend concerts in Michigan, and each bought tickets before the pandemic began.

Neither anticipated it would take more than one year, and an inquiry by CBC News, to see refunds for the events. 

The two buyers both live on the Ontario side of the Detroit-Windsor border, and due to the pandemic, realized they’d be unable to cross over for the shows. 

In February 2020, Stenger purchased two tickets via Ticketmaster to see Def Leppard, Motley Crue and Joan Jett that summer. 

It cost about $630 Cdn to her credit card at the time, but the transaction took one year to be processed through Ticketmaster’s website. In the meantime, the concert was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Stenger said she could not get a refund through the website because of the pending transaction.

She tried contacting Ticketmaster through their online chat function, email and phone calls dozens of times, she said. 

“They said, ‘Oh don’t worry your tickets are still valid.’ That was the only answer I was getting — they wouldn’t acknowledge my refund question at that time.”

Stenger says she contacted Ticketmaster numerous times, but could not get an answer about a refund for her $630 Cdn purchase. (Submitted by Bronwen Stenger)

Earlier this week, CBC News reached out to Ticketmaster about the transaction delay and lack of a refund for Stenger. That’s when she was finally contacted by the company, which left a voicemail saying she would see a full refund. 

“I just don’t think it was right for them to hold that money because people have rent to pay and ticket prices are ridiculous to begin with,” she said. 

“Why wouldn’t they refund so we could pay our rent and let us buy tickets at a later date when we’re back at work and can pay that money again?”

A spokesperson for Ticketmaster said in an email that “refund policies are at the discretion of the event organizer, not the ticketing provider,” and directed CBC News to Ticketmaster’s purchasing policies found here.

“Well I’m happy I got my refund. I think it’s really sad they wait until they’re going to be exposed publicly to acknowledge their customer and to do the right thing,” said Stenger. 

Noel says he’s grateful to get refunded, but will purchase tickets directly from an event site next time. (CBC)

Meanwhile, Noel had a similar situation. 

In November 2019, he purchased tickets for four couples to go see a Journey concert in Detroit. He made the purchases through Vivid Seats at a cost of about $900 U.S.

Noel said that when the pandemic hit, he received an email stating he would see a refund, but he ended up missing that vital message, which went to his spam inbox. That message indicated he had seven days to apply for a refund, which he didn’t do because of missing the email, he said, and instead was credited roughly $1,000 US.

“I did miss their seven-day deadline, but from what I heard and what I read online, no one got refunded,” said Noel. 

He said he called Vivid Seats about 10 times after that, but the company would not refund the tickets.

“I explained it that we’re in a pandemic, I can’t cross the border, the concert’s cancelled,” he said. 

“I wanted to go see this particular concert and I don’t want to go anywhere else.”

CBC News contacted Vivid Seats about Noel’s tickets, and were told by a spokesperson that “Luc will receive a full refund.”

“I was definitely relieved,” said Noel, who believes he would not have been refunded his money back had a news organization not contacted the company on his behalf. 

For Noel, he said he’s looking forward to travelling back to Michigan for sports and concert events when it’s safe, but will think twice about purchases. 

“To any future ticket buyers out there, sometimes the cheapest ticket or the best price isn’t the best way to buy tickets.”

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