Last month’s visit of Hurricane Irene to the eastern U.S. coast not only wreaked havoc on shore, but also took its toll on fans and ticket sellers as it forced cancellations and rescheduling of a number of events.
For example, Jimmy Buffett postponed his Saturday, August 27 concert until the following Thursday, September 1, with the original tickets good for the later date. The Dave Matthews Band kept their Friday, August 26 concert on Governor’s Island in New York, but postponed dates on the next two days. Fans with tickets to the postponed shows were welcome to use their tickets on the Friday date or may wait until this weekend’s rescheduled concerts (for September 16, 17 and 18) on Randall’s Island in New York. Fans holding single day tickets must use them on the corresponding weekend day.
In a relatively rare occurrence, Kenny Chesney moved up his Sunday, August 28 concert to Friday, August 26, with affected fans left having to rearrange their schedules quickly if they wished to use those tickets.
These rapid and sometimes unorthodox decisions to reschedule events led to a fair amount of fan frustration that weekend. While there is a reasonable amount of irritation to be expected in the chore of clearing out a future date to attend a concert you had already cleared your schedule for, Chesney’s fans had to scramble to attend on an earlier date in order to keep their tickets. Initially, those who bought tickets on StubHub and sought refunds for this unusual situation were denied, but ultimately the resale site relented and provided refunds to those who requested them.
This year’s U.S. Open Tennis Championship’s handily avoided the wrath of Irene, completing preliminary events on Saturday, August 27th and starting first round matches on the 29th, but it could not hold up against days of rain which came a week and a half later, forcing organizers to cancel two days of sessions.
For those who had purchased single-day tickets on the secondary market, refunds seemed easy to come by. As Jason Berger, president of online ticketer All Shows, explained recently to TicketNews. “It’s always been our policy at All Shows that we give a full refund for all cancelled events. We are proud to offer a full refund, because we are looking at long term relationships with customers.”
However, Berger touched on issues particular to the Open which can lead resellers to lose money on weather delays: “It’s very hard for a reseller, because the tickets are sold in strips. If a particular session gets cancelled, they say the season subscriber does not get a refund. A lot of resellers have problems with this, because when the season ticket holder makes an investment, they assume there’s going to be the same number of sessions. If you are a season ticket holder, you invest in the whole strip, and [if a session is cancelled] you do not get a refund. Usually there is one session here or there, but this time there were multiple sessions cancelled.”
Weather-related delays, or those from any unexpected event, present their own unique issues to the ticket seller. Leor Zahavi, founder and CEO of Admit One tickets, recently told TicketNews that refunds due to weather are “always a challenge…sometimes you have suppliers that sell you tickets that are willing to work with you on that front, and sometimes you don’t.
“It has been a challenging U.S. Open, in terms of dealing with the uncertainty surrounding the individual sessions that were in question, finally having some sort of messaging that was posted on the USTA Web site, then having that messaging change in the next 24 hours without notice, then having to communicate that to your clients…that was challenging.”
Lena Siegendorf, VP of Premium Seats USA, is familiar with the added work that goes along with rain delays. “In general, weather delays during major events like the U.S. Open can be challenging on my staff’s time, due to the excess customer service that is necessary to notify and update clients. I’d say the hardest part for us [during the U.S. Open] was keeping up with the rescheduled dates and times so we could proactively let our clients know…but overall the clients’ attitudes tend to be understanding. They want to wait it out so they don’t miss any of the action. The same can’t be said for spring training MLB games, for example.”