Third-party vendor under fire after Houstonians see delays in Rodeo concert ticket refunds

HOUSTON – The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Rodeo Houston shut down prematurely on March 11 after concerns that it would pose a serious threat in spreading coronavirus in the Houston area.

The announcement came hours before singer Kane Brown was scheduled to take the stage. Besides Brown’s performance, 11 other major concerts were canceled.

More than one month later, some people who purchased concert tickets through third-party vendor, Vivid Seats, are voicing concerns over refunds.

According to Bryce Briscoe, he spent about $1,500 on eight Gwen Stefani tickets and four Dierks Bentley tickets.

“[Vivid Seats] originally told me toward the end of March that it was going to be somewhere around the middle of April before we got our refunds,” Briscoe said. “Then, I started getting emails toward the beginning of April saying they wanted to give me a voucher of 110% of each ticket.”

Steve Logan also bought tickets through the third-party vendor. He and his wife planned on seeing Cody Johnson. According to Logan, he spent about $345 dollars and has not been refunded.

“Their reasoning has been that the whole process and everybody down line is delaying the process. From the seller to whoever the seller went through,” Logan said. “But I didn’t give my money to those people. I gave it to Vivid Seats.”

In lieu of a cash refund, both Logan and Briscoe said Vivid Seats offered them vouchers for future events. The offer, although generous, was a drastic turnabout from what Logan said the company’s initial cancelation policy was. According to Logan, when he bought the tickets, Vivid Seats promised a 100% money-back guarantee if an event was canceled. He said he was initially told his money would be refunded within two to five business days.

“I’ve actually been shocked by the process that a company evidently feels comfortable in doing that,” said Logan. “That’s what your business is built on. You can’t throw it out there, make the promises to get the business then walk away from it.”

An email sent by Vivid Seats on April 15 explained their “new incentive program for canceled events.”

It reads in part:

Today, we have rolled out a new incentive program for canceled events, allowing fans to redeem more than the full value of your purchases, in the form of credits toward future purchases, in lieu of cash refunds.

Government shutdown orders, and other events outside of our control as private citizens, make it impossible to hold ticketed live events on scheduled dates. Some events have been canceled; others postponed. The financial strain of these changes is reverberating throughout the highly interdependent ecosystem of fans, artists, sports teams, event-planners, ticket-sellers and resellers, and online marketplaces like vivid seats.

Here at vivid seats, we are not immune to these economic forces. We have been closely monitoring catastrophic events in the industry. We are trying very hard to balance all of the competing needs, in a very dynamic situation. For now, as a company, we are not able to process cash reimbursements in the same way. We needed to find a win-win-win option that allows us to manage the queue of canceled events, while still doing our best to honor our 100% buyer guarantee, under these unprecedented circumstances. We think we’ve done just that.

Logan said he had joined a Facebook group of more than 200 people called “take down vivid seats.”

“It’s mainly people who are trying things to get their money back and sharing the information with other people,” said Logan. “There’s one fellow on there who’s lost almost $4,000 that he’s trying to get a refund for.”

After weeks of correspondence, both Logan and Briscoe said they have received confirmation from the company that they will be getting a full refund.

“They recently sent me an email that they will be sending me my money back,” Briscoe said. “But they haven’t given me a time frame or date for when that’s going to be.”

According to a spokesperson with Vivid Seats, the company is working hard to issue refunds following mass event cancelations across the country.

“Vivid Seats is a marketplace, that connects buyers and sellers of live event tickets. We have contacted every customer that purchased a ticket regarding their refund and will continue to process each request," the company wrote in a statement to KPRC 2.