By Alfred Branch, Jr.
About 16 fans Tuesday were singing tonight’s the night they thought they would get to see their idol Rod Stewart in concert, but unfortunately the John Labatt Centre had other plans.
The London, Ontario venue cancelled tickets to the show without notifying the ticket holders or OnlineSeats.com, the ticket brokerage that sold them. No reasons were given for why the tickets were voided.
“We’re trying to figure out exactly what happened, because there was no notification,” said David Jacobs, president of OnlineSeats.com. “This is something completely out of our control when a venue simply cancelled tickets without telling anyone . . .”
Brent McNamee, box office manager for the John Labatt Centre, said that due to privacy laws he is unable to discuss the specifics of Tuesday night’s incident, but whenever the venue cancels tickets in advance it makes every effort to contact the buyer. He said, however, that tickets are often sold or given away two or three times, or more, so notifying the final ticket holder is next to impossible, which means the holder has to show up before they will find out the tickets are invalid.
Among the reasons that tickets are invalidated include fraud or counterfeit tickets, ones bought by a stolen credit card or multiple copies of “print-at-home” tickets turning up the night of a show, McNamee said. People who are turned away in these instances are issued a letter that states, without going into detail, that the tickets were invalid and that they should contact the source of the purchase for any refunds.
This is not the first time there have been problems with tickets to a Rod Stewart concert. In March, several fans were issued new tickets to a show in Los Angeles when Ticketmaster cancelled front row seats because of undisclosed “changes associated with the production.”
Under Ontario law, tickets cannot be resold above face value, but McNamee said that the police don’t enforce it, but if they did it would only carry a $25 fine. “We realize that there are many legitimate brokers who buy and sell tickets in good faith,” McNamee said, adding that he expects to invalidate a couple of tickets whenever there is a popular event.
OnlineSeats.com is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, and under NATB rules in the event of problem arising with tickets, the brokerage will refund 200 percent of the price of the ticket. “Onlineseats.com is doing the correct thing and giving anyone who was not allowed into the show a 200% refund,” Jacobs said, adding that the matter could have been handled quickly and easily well in advance. “If we were aware of the problem before the show, or that any tickets were cancelled, we would have replaced them and taken care of the customer.”
Jacobs sold the tickets way back in February for between $100 and $150, and he originally bought the seats from brokers and other sources, but not the box office. “These were normal tickets bought from the Labatt Centre’s web site,” he said.
“For us, this is a nightmare,” Jacobs said. “Everyone comes out of it looking bad. Us, the venue. But we paid for these tickets like everyone else, but I can’t go to the venue seeking a refund.”