Montreal

Montreal fans struggle to get refund to postponed Elton John concert

Evenko says refunds are possible, but getting one has been a challenge for Jonathan Izenberg

Posted: May 25, 2020

Jonathan Izenberg has been trying to get a refund but says no one is giving him a straight answer. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Jonathan Izenberg had tickets for what he thought would be the concert of a lifetime — the legendary Elton John performing his Farewell Yellow Brick Road concert at Montreal's Bell Centre in April.

"It's Elton John, an incredible performer, one of the legends we grew up with," said Izenberg, a 66-year-old grandfather of three who lives in Rigaud, Que.

"It's the last chance to see him perform all his hits. We were looking forward to it."

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Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and now Izenberg is among thousands of people with tickets to a show that was postponed indefinitely.

Those tickets cost him nearly $350 and he wants a refund, but trying to get his money back has been a fiasco.

The Montreal-based promoter, Evenko, told CBC News the money will be returned eventually, but Izenberg has yet to be promised that refund.

Instead, he's been going back and forth between ticket seller and promoter in search of a straight answer.

Companies pass the buck, Izenberg says

Izenberg bought two tickets through the Ticketmaster website in December 2019. Once he heard about the delay, he called Ticketmaster.

The company told him he would not get a refund, and to contact Evenko instead. So that's what he did.

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"[Evenko] said go back to Ticketmaster because that's where you bought the tickets and ask them for a refund and they'll process it," said Izenberg.

So he went back to Ticketmaster. After a 90-minute online chat with the company, he was told neither Ticketmaster or Evenko is in charge of the refund.

He was told it was up to AEG Worldwide, which is based in Los Angeles, to authorize refunds once the concert is rescheduled.

Elton John's Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Valentin Flauraud/Keystone/The Associated Press)

"They have not authorized refunds and until they do, nobody else is going to do anything about getting my money back," said Izenberg.

On its website, Evenko invites people to hold onto their tickets until the concert is rescheduled.

Given the estimated time it will take to find an effective COVID-19 treatment or vaccine, Izenberg wonders how long he will have to wait for the rescheduling of what was supposed to be the 73-year-old musician's last Montreal concert.

Evenko says it's not refusing refunds

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When contacted by CBC News, Evenko spokesperson Philip Vanden Brande said the company offers a refund option to consumers once a new date has been determined in collaboration with the artists and the venues.

"Given the general uncertainty, we prefer that our customers wait for new dates before requesting a refund for deferred shows," said Vanden Brande.

"That said, we will not refuse any refund request."

He said the current volume of events awaiting new dates is slowing down the company's "operational process" and Evenko is asking ticketholders to be patient.

Worrying about those who can't afford to wait

Izenberg said he can afford to wait for the refund, but he worries about those who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is a time where a lot of families are trying to make do on a lot less income than they had at the time they bought the tickets," he said.

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"So what seemed like a good idea then, now all of a sudden they're scrambling, they're looking for credit card deferral payments, mortgage deferral payments, and things are tight for a lot of people."

Making people wait and not giving customers a straight answer from the very beginning is poor corporate morality and citizenship, he said.

Quebec's culture minister, Nathalie Roy, said the government is still trying to figure out what to do with large cultural events, but people are entitled to their money.

"The thing is, if people want to be refunded, they have the right to be refunded," she said.

With files from Isaac Olson