CHICAGO (CBS) — The Elton John farewell tour turned out to be a double disappointment for a suburban mom.
First, the coronavirus put the kibosh on the concerts. Then, Laura Parise couldn’t get $850 back for tickets she purchased through Vivid Seats, a Chicago based company that is a secondary market seller for all kinds of event tickets.
She turned to CBS 2 investigator Pam Zekman for help.
Elton John fans heard the news two years ago when the beginning of his farewell tour was announced.
“I’ve loved Elton John my whole life,” said Parise, who lives in the northern suburbs.
And she had big plans to introduce her two daughters to the music of her childhood.
They were going to Grand Rapids, Michigan for a volleyball tournament last month. Elton John happened to be performing the night before at the Van Andel Arena.
She said the $850 she paid was a lot of money for anyone, but she spent it because she “wanted to treat my family create the memory for my children.”
“It’s the final farewell tour,” Parise said. “That was going to be very special.”
The tour was postponed to an unspecified date in the future after COVID-19 fears shut down major events.
Parise asked Vivid Seats — a ticket reseller — about a refund. She said she got the runaround until finally getting bad news via an online chat.
Because the show was postponed, not canceled, Vivid would not be able to process a refund.
That distinction between “postponed” and “canceled” is what is putting Parise’s tickets in limbo, along with hundreds of not thousands of people who purchased their tickets from the secondary market.
Some performers, like Bon Jovi, explicitly canceled to trigger a refund for fans “to help pay their bills or buy groceries.”
But until a rescheduled date is set for the Elton John tour, fans do not get a penny back.
“People in the world are suffering and need access to cash,” Parise said. “I don’t think it’s right the company is holding cash, given the climate of a pandemic.”
“Where’s the money?” Parise asked. “The concert hasn’t – who’s been paid? The venue was not used. The performer has not performed. I don’t understand the dynamics.”
“There’s a lot of gray areas here,” said Ted Rossman, a credit analyst with the consumer website Bankrate.com.
He concluded that at least 60 million Americans are out of money because of the coronavirus cancellations and postponements.
His advice is: “Contact the company first and be polite with whatever you are asking for. And if you don’t get a satisfactory resolution there, then call your credit card company if you used one to make a payment. Sometimes, they are more forgiving when it involves these disputes. “
Parise had hoped to hear her favorite song, “Candle in the Wind,” with her daughters in Michigan. Now she’s just hoping Vivid Seats will refund her money.
“Taking the high road and doing the right thing – never fails,” Laura said.
The high road – an appropriate phrase for a refund request involving the “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.”
A spokesman for Vivid Seats says the company has been making refunds for canceled shows.
The spokesman said refunds are being paid to customers who have requested a full refund for a canceled event.” He said Vivid Seats “has refunded thousands of orders totaling millions of dollars since the global pandemic shut down all live events in America.”
He added that staff has been “processing them all day all the time. Because it is a global pandemic, it has caused cancellations in numbers we have never dealt with before.”
He said Vivid Seats is a “marketplace” and not the show promoter or original ticket seller. Because of that, he said Vivid Seats has no say over whether an event is canceled or postponed.
In March, the company was charged in a class action lawsuit with violating consumer protection laws when it changed its refund policy while facing COVID-19 related financial losses.