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Refund Roulette: Gephardt Investigates Why Wrong Ticket Holders Are Getting The Cash

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown more than a few curveballs at folks who bought tickets to now-canceled events this summer.

While many ticketholders are getting at least some of their money back, a Utah Jazz fan said the refunds for the tickets he purchased went to someone else. And our investigation exposed yet another pitfall of buying tickets from third parties.

Original Tickets Vs. Resale

“I love the Jazz, I’m a huge fan,” said Landon Johnson.

And he bought a handful of tickets for this season.

“I purchased a few tickets from the Jazz in a mini-plan,” Johnson explained. “And then I purchased a few other tickets from just another fan.”

He didn’t just buy them off some scalper on the street. To make sure the tickets were legitimate, Johnson used the Utah Jazz’s official ticket resale website. The Jazz ticket office could see that he was the new holder of those seats.

But when the NBA canceled the season and the Jazz announced refunds, the money didn’t go to Johnson – it went to the guy who originally bought the tickets and then resold them through the Jazz ticket resale site.

Johnson called the Jazz and protested.

“I was like if you guys can clearly see that the tickets are on my account and I’m the new owner of those tickets – I don’t know why they would be refunding someone who doesn’t own the tickets anymore,” he said.

The Fine Print

When his protests did not get him anywhere, Johnson called the KSL Investigators.

We reached out to the Jazz. A team spokesman declined to go on camera, but in a statement told us their ticket transfer platform is simply that: a vehicle used to safely transfer tickets. They do not handle any of the finances.

The statement goes on to read:

“The Jazz have proactively offered refunds for postponed games that can only be returned to the original form of payment. We are unable to trace additional private transactions on the secondary market. This unique COVID-driven situation reinforces the importance of consumer protection by only buying guaranteed tickets from authorized agents at the Vivint Smart Home Arena box office, UtahJazz.com or Ticketmaster.com.”

Utah’s Refund Rules

Refund rules between a business and a customer are clearly spelled out in Utah code. According to the Consumer Sales Practices Act, refunds are due within “30 days” if a supplier “fails to ship the goods or furnish the services.”

However, it stops short of clarifying whether refunds need to be passed down between ticket holders when tickets are bought and then resold on a secondary market and then the event is canceled.

A Grey Area

When the KSL Investigators reached out to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection to ask for their insight, we were told it’s a grey area.

“If you are going to refund money at all, why would you send it to someone who doesn’t actually own the tickets anymore?” asked Johnson.

After the KSL Investigators got involved, the Jazz offered to step in and help Johnson track down a refund from the original buyer of his seats, but he was able to connect with that person on his own and get his money back.

“He said, ‘Well, that doesn’t seem right, you know. I’ll take care of you. I’ll make it right,’” Johnson said. “But I know there’s going to be a lot of other people out there that don’t get their money back.”

Pitfalls Of The Ticket Resale Market

Johnson’s situation was merely another example of how dealing with a secondary ticket market can be bumpy.

It’s ripe for fraud — we have seen crooks print off multiple of copies of the same ticket and buyers don’t realize there’s an issue until multiple people show for the same seat.

In recent years, some performers and venues have begun requiring fans to show up with the credit card used to buy the original tickets. It’s a move aimed at keeping scalpers from buying up seats and then jacking up the prices.

Congress is trying to crack down on ticket bots which can buy up all the seats before you can even blink.

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