An anonymous member of the not-for-profit organization Theatre Development Fund filed a complaint with the New York State Attorney General, claiming they were taken advantage of, along with other senior citizens who join the paid membership group. The customer was charged “handling fees” for tickets they never received, to shows that never occurred, and hopes NYSAG can both right this individual wrong and ensure the policy is changed for all.
TDF is a New York-based nonprofit that “works to make theatre affordable and accessible to all”. This includes the TKTS booths across New York City that offer discounted tickets to the public for same-day shows, as well as a paid membership that offers discounted tickets to select groups for a variety of Broadway and off-Broadway musicals, plays, and dance productions. Eligibility requirements include full-time teachers, union members, and government employees, full-time students and recent graduates, members of the armed forces, arts professionals, and more.
This particular customer signed up under the basis of being a retiree aged 62 or older. An annual membership costs $35, and gives the member instant access to 250+ discount ticket offers of up to 70% off, according to their website. The organization’s mission is “to identify and provide support, including financial assistance, to theatrical works of artistic merit and to encourage and enable diverse audiences to attend live theatre and dance in all their venues”.
The first two shows this customer purchased tickets to were, unfortunately, both cancelled. TDF notified them of the cancellations, and refunded both tickets. When the customer saw the refund, though, they noticed $4 missing from each chargeback. When they reached out to inquire about the incomplete refund, the customer was told by TDF that $4 were withheld from each refund for a “handling fee”- a rule which was stated on their website.
“I was unaware of the fact that I could lose money if I bought tickets for a show that was cancelled”, they argue, calling the experience “deceptive” and encouraging Attorney General Schneiderman to investigate TDF “for taking advantage of senior citizens”.
Below is the full complaint to the New York State Attorney General from an anonymous complainant in December 2016.
I am 86 years old. I joined TDF in September. I purchased tickets for 2 different shows and paid in full by credit card. Prior to the dates of the shows, TDF emailed me that the shows were cancelled. TDF refunded $93 out of $97 for one show, and $22 out of $26 for the other show. When I asked why, they said that it is for a “handling fee.” There were no tickets ever produced. I received no tickets, so there is no basis for a “handling fee.” I was unaware of the fact that I could lose money if I bought tickets for a show that was cancelled. TDF claimed it’s in their fine print somewhere on their website.. I believe this is deceptive. TDF markets its services for seniors. TDF should be investigated for taking advantage of senior citizens. The Attorney General should make TDF change their refund policy and refund the entire charge for a show that is cancelled.