HOUSTON – New COVID concerns are causing the cancellation of many events and concerts. Now, ticket holders are wondering what to do and some are worried about buying tickets to future events, like the Houston rodeo shows. We have what you need to know about buying tickets right now.
It seems like just when we got comfortable buying tickets to events again venues are postponing and canceling shows. Even though we’ve been dealing with this for a long time, there still are no clear-cut rules that anyone follows.
“You’re really at the mercy of the event organizer to give you a refund,” said John Breyault, VP of Public Policy for the National Consumers League.
It’s a lesson many of us have learned over this pandemic.
From shows at the Hobby Center to live concerts and sporting events, if you had tickets to an event that didn’t happen you may have to wait to get a refund.
Basketball game postponed for weeks
Rodney Hodgins is waiting for word on a refund after COVID postponed a University of Houston basketball game over the Christmas break. He bought the tickets to take his grandson who was visiting from France at the time.
“I’m out $123.07,” he told us.
When he called to ask about a refund, the customer service reps were polite but told him the game could still happen.
“They said, ‘Oh no, the game has not been canceled, just postponed.’”
The University of Houston told him wording on the ticket explains refunds are not issued for a “postponed” game. There is a disclaimer online to see for when you purchase the tickets. But Hodgins admits he didn’t notice it.
“It’s a very one-sided situation. I don’t know whether I can do anything about it or not.”
The university eventually gave Rodney the chance to use his tickets at any game.
Canceled events have been an issue since 2020
We introduced you to Phyllis Bailey in 2020, when the pandemic first started.
The concert she had tickets for canceled, and she thought she had a good backup plan.
“I saw you could purchase insurance and I said ah, I’ll do that just in case. Not ever thinking we’d be where we are now.”
The insurance company denied her claim at first but she was eventually issued a refund.
Breyault says while ticket sellers have come a long way since the start of the pandemic - there’s still no cut and dry answer as to when you get a refund and when you have to wait.
“A lot of artists rather than canceling their dates outright, are actually postponing them further into the future,” he explains.
And it gets even more complicated if you got the tickets from a third-party site.
“In those cases, chances are you’ll be offered a credit first, rather than a refund,” explains Breyault.
With the uncertainty, should you buy tickets to events right now?
Now that rodeo show tickets are on sale, you may be worried about what happens if it’s canceled after you make a purchase.
Rodeo Houston reps tell us they are following all (local, state, national) health guidelines and are “extremely confident everyone will be back for the 2022 shows.”
But if an event is canceled, ticket buyers can request a refund or rollover.
For the rodeo or any other event, Breyault says buying directly is the safest bet if you are worried about getting your money back.
“If you buy it through a reseller, you may have to jump through a few more hoops to get that cash refund, if that’s what you want, instead of a credit.”
Should you buy event insurance?
And when it comes to event insurance, Breyault says skip it.
“If you actually read the fine print of those policies, they have loopholes that you could drive a truck through.”
Breyault does give a few more tips to use when buying event tickets.
- If your event cancels and you call customer service, already know what you are going to say. Ask directly for a refund (They will probably try to offer you a credit first).
- Consider the other costs of the events. For example, if you have to fly or reserve a hotel room. Do those things have cancellation options?
You could try to dispute the transaction with the credit card company you use. Unfortunately, a Bankrate survey shows more than half of consumers who paid to attend events that were canceled ended up losing money.