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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Fans sue MLB, teams over ticket money, ask for class action

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A pair of fans in New York sued Major League Baseball, Commissioner Rob Manfred and the 30 teams, asking for their money back for tickets and for certification of class-action status.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by Matthew Ajzenman, who said he bought a partial season plan for more than 20 Mets games; and Susan Terry-Bazer, who said she purchased six tickets for a May 9 game at Yankee Stadium against Boston.

“Baseball fans are stuck with expensive and unusable tickets for unplayable games in the midst of this economic crisis,” the lawsuit said. “Under the pretext of `postponing’ games, at the directive of MLB, teams and ticket merchants are refusing to issue refunds for games which are not going to be played as scheduled—if ever.”

Ajzenman said his Mets plan cost $1,730 and he made a first payment to the team of about $317 last year. Terry-Bazer said she paid $926 to Ticketmaster and planned to take her grandson to the Red Sox-Yankees game.

Any thoughts on the legal merits of this case, such as they are?

 

QLE Posted: April 21, 2020 at 12:57 AM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: lawsuits, postponement, tickets

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. The Duke Posted: April 21, 2020 at 08:16 AM (#5942580)
Certainly has merit in October if no games have been played but as of right now it just feels like they have had 15 rainouts to be rescheduled. If the league ends up playing makeup games (doubtful ) then they could be made whole. I think the lawsuit Is too early. Most people are cynics but if the season isn’t played, the money will surely be returned or used to offset 2021 season tix
   2. Adam Starblind Posted: April 21, 2020 at 10:32 AM (#5942633)
Agreed. I assume the fine print on your ticket says the game might be played on some other date in the event of rain, plague, civil disorder, etc.
   3. Rough Carrigan Posted: April 21, 2020 at 12:43 PM (#5942708)
This is ridiculous. I'm in the same boat as these people. I bought tickets through a ticket agency to the Red Sox home opener. It's already gone by. Are they gonna fly the White Sox in there for 1 game some time in mid June? Really? If not, are they make some other already scheduled game, with tickets already spoken for, the home opener. Am I supposed to kick someone out of their seat that they bought?

It's even more ridiculous for the guy in the article who bought a multi-game pack of tickets. They're not gonna reschedule all those games.
   4. Booey Posted: April 21, 2020 at 12:55 PM (#5942715)
Yeah, I'm with these fans. I had some tickets to a couple of NBA games, and they tell me I can't get refunded yet because those games haven't been officially cancelled, only postponed indefinitely. But the league almost surely isn't going to bother making up random, end of the season regular season games. IF the season resumes at all, they'll almost surely go straight to the playoffs. And if by some miracle they actually do play the rest of the regular season games, I'm not even sure I'll want to attend if they're rescheduled for a weekday (I deliberately bought tickets to weekend games) and in the middle of summer. Fans purposely buy tickets for days that are convenient for them; it's not always just as good to attend on a random make up day instead.
   5. Zonk WARRIORS ALONE! Posted: April 21, 2020 at 01:01 PM (#5942718)
There's going to be no shortage of this kind of stuff...

Stubhub surreptitiously changed their TOS early last month to basically change the refund policy into "credits only". I had a single game ticket I had (stupidly, in hindsight) bought in February - and while I technically have an account credit, I have my doubts Stubhub (and I really loved stubhub, so it makes me sad) even survives.

I also had a ticket to an Empty Bottle show since cancelled - but as I like the venue, was happy to just consider it a donation.

   6. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 21, 2020 at 01:12 PM (#5942720)
I'm curious, Zonk -- if you buy a ticket through Stubhub, aren't you now the owner of the ticket? And can't you apply for a refund from the team (if and when the team issues a refund)? You would only get face value, so less useful if you paid more than full price, but it'd be something.
   7. Zonk WARRIORS ALONE! Posted: April 21, 2020 at 01:31 PM (#5942728)
I'm curious, Zonk -- if you buy a ticket through Stubhub, aren't you now the owner of the ticket? And can't you apply for a refund from the team (if and when the team issues a refund)? You would only get face value, so less useful if you paid more than full price, but it'd be something.


Not sure, actually... I think you're probably right - though, as I understand it - normally what happens/what used to happen in the event of a cancellation (or a fraudulent ticket) is that Stubhub refunds you and then gets the money back from the seller. I had one such incident many, many, many years ago - bought a ticket on SH and it turned out that it was either fake or the seller sold it twice (never got told precisely what happened - I just know the ticket wouldn't scan).

Anyway, when I called from the ballpark, they refunded me and just gave me a credit. I was quite happy with the customer service experience - disappointed not to get into the game, but it was just a weekday afternoon lark, so wasn't terribly crushed.

It was a cheap ticket - so I'm not going to make too big of a beef about it... if SH survives, I'll just use the credit eventually anyway.

I can sympathize with folks who have 4 figure ticket package charges... but in my case? It's a good service that I love and have used quite often... so I'm fine with floating them 30 bucks on the off chance they survive...
   8. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 21, 2020 at 02:55 PM (#5942748)
. . . if you buy a ticket through Stubhub, aren't you now the owner of the ticket? And can't you apply for a refund from the team (if and when the team issues a refund)?
Based on what happened for the canceled spring training games, I don’t think it will work that way. For the Nationals & Astros, who share a ST site in West Palm Beach, FL, anyone who bought their tickets online through the teams or ballpark received an automatic refund to the credit card used for the purchase. My refund was credited on April 3rd. Those who bought through third-parties, including vendors like Stub Hub, had to go back through the third-party. I’m guessing other teams did the same, and the regular season will be treated similarly. Bottom line, MLB may not be interested in tracing resales or dealing with secondary purchasers, and wants to make that Stub Hub’s problem. Not sure if that will be OK in every jurisdiction, could be a matter of state law, but I’m not a sports tickets lawyer.
   9. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 21, 2020 at 03:18 PM (#5942755)
Stubhub surreptitiously changed their TOS early last month to basically change the refund policy into "credits only". I had a single game ticket I had (stupidly, in hindsight) bought in February - and while I technically have an account credit, I have my doubts Stubhub (and I really loved stubhub, so it makes me sad) even survives.

If you're worried about Stubhub's viability, why not buy a ticket to the furthest out interesting concert or whatever that you can find on Stubhub? Something that has at least a reasonable chance of actually happening?

Although I would note that Stubhub is owned by eBay, which has a $30 billion market capitalization and whose shares are actually up on the year. So I don't think they are going to default on their obligations to customers.

EDIT: Actually I see Stubhub was sold to ViaGoGo, its European counterpart, in February 2020? Umm...
   10. Walt Davis Posted: April 21, 2020 at 07:53 PM (#5942869)
Here's what's happening with travel agencies in Australia.

1. They initially said they'd refund.
2. Then they changed their mind and said they'd give credit or would refund but only at a fee or minus whatever costs they incur.
3. One of the big ones charges $300 per person (not per booking) to cancel. There's a story of an extended family who booked a holiday to Disneyland and paid $1600 in hotel and the travel agent says it will cost $2100 to cancel. Note they contacted the hotel directly and the hotel said they'd be happy to refund in full but that it has to go through the travel agent.
4. Another big one just announced that they will only give credit.
5. All of them have laid off the vast majority of their staff.

Even if the economny recovers, I'd think it probably still makes financial sense for these businesses to declare bankruptcy and new firms take over -- or in a classic maneuver, declare bankruptcy then basicaly buy back the business at a discount (seems to happen all the time in restaurants here).

EDIT: Actually I see Stubhub was sold to ViaGoGo, its European counterpart, in February 2020? Umm...

I wonder if eBay's Senator was in the same briefing Loeffler was ....

EDIT (by me): On the travel agent, StubHub, etc. One key issue is that a lot of the folks who booked those trips or bought those tix did so when they had jobs which they may not anymore so they want money back, not credit. I've got a deposit on a cycling trip for 2021 and obviously there are no guarantees the tour company will be able to survive this but (right now) I'm in good shape employment and savings wise so it wouldn't be a huge deal for me if I never get that money back.
   11. Zonk WARRIORS ALONE! Posted: April 22, 2020 at 07:56 AM (#5942967)
If you're worried about Stubhub's viability, why not buy a ticket to the furthest out interesting concert or whatever that you can find on Stubhub? Something that has at least a reasonable chance of actually happening?


Hey - I said I like the service and I'm happy to just float a few bucks as a credit while things sort out...

When it comes to overbuying-cum-contributions to businesses, I keep it local - and I've got a bevy of local venue swag somewhere in the mail. If we ever get out of this, I will be the hippest hipster to ever attend a show!

I'll be wearing my Thalia Hall socks and Empty Bottle T-Shirt while I listen to my Schubas 30/10 CD (if I can find a CD player) after grocery shopping with my Metro tote bag on my way to spend my Hideout bucks...
   12. DL from MN Posted: April 22, 2020 at 09:47 AM (#5942988)
3. One of the big ones charges $300 per person (not per booking) to cancel. There's a story of an extended family who booked a holiday to Disneyland and paid $1600 in hotel and the travel agent says it will cost $2100 to cancel. Note they contacted the hotel directly and the hotel said they'd be happy to refund in full but that it has to go through the travel agent.


If you pay using a credit card you can always dispute the charge and let the credit card company fight it out for you. That helped me get a refund on a spring break trip scheduled for March.
   13. Adam Starblind Posted: April 22, 2020 at 10:32 AM (#5942998)
Stubhub will refund you directly if the game is actually cancelled. They did so with my spring training tickets.
   14. QLE Posted: April 23, 2020 at 01:07 AM (#5943312)
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 23, 2020 at 01:40 AM (#5943316)
If law schools bother to schedule final exams this year, one could crib a decent Civil Procedure exam fact pattern from #14. Two New York residents purchase tickets to the Yankees & Mets, but file their lawsuit seeking refunds in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, alleging violations of California state law. That should keep the lawyers busy.
   16. never forget: the pee tape is 57i66135 Posted: April 23, 2020 at 01:57 AM (#5943319)
their headshots should be on 15' tall signs outside every ####### ballpark in this country, with the words "DO NOT ADMIT" in big red ####### letters.

   17. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 13, 2020 at 04:38 PM (#5950176)
Some teams have now announced their refund policies, including the Washington Nationals, who claim to have the best ticket offer in MLB
The reigning World Series Champions have World Champion fans—and you deserve the best ticket offer in Major League Baseball! As a demonstration of our Gratitude for your Natitude, we are offering a loyalty bonus for your commitment to the Washington Nationals in 2020.

You will receive a 100% credit for the amount you spent on tickets and parking passes during the 2020 season (less certain associated fees) for any games you are unable to attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will also receive a free 50% bonus credit as a token of our Gratitude for your Natitude.* You decide how to spend your loyalty bonus during the 2020 or 2021 regular season: Get additional tickets, upgrade your seats, or convert your bonus for more food, refreshments, and merchandise. Alternatively, use your bonus credit to donate tickets to first responders and frontline workers, youth from local communities, and military service members and their families. [emphasis added]
You can also just get a refund, assuming you get past all the verbiage about what a good deal this is. Seems pretty fair, and better than some of the other ‘loyalty bonuses’ I’ve seen reported.
   18. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: May 13, 2020 at 06:12 PM (#5950208)
The Red Sox made it pretty easy. They sent an email about two weeks ago offering three choices; refund, other games in 2020 or credit toward 2021 with the default being refund. I chose refund which they said they would start issuing 5/7. I got my money back for the two games I had in the period in question (April/May) on the 9th. Obviously I’d prefer all of it but hey, I can wait.
   19. greenback used to say live and let live Posted: May 13, 2020 at 10:34 PM (#5950283)
Can we complain about mlb.tv here?
   20. Mayor Blomberg Posted: May 14, 2020 at 12:59 AM (#5950312)
The Nationals' normal rain-out policy was mentioned in the article linked in 14.

I thought it nasty, but their policy for 2020 is actually quite reasonable, see, e.g., 50 percent bonus program,
   21. Rally Posted: May 14, 2020 at 08:04 AM (#5950327)
3. One of the big ones charges $300 per person (not per booking) to cancel. There's a story of an extended family who booked a holiday to Disneyland and paid $1600 in hotel and the travel agent says it will cost $2100 to cancel. Note they contacted the hotel directly and the hotel said they'd be happy to refund in full but that it has to go through the travel agent.


Didn't realize anyone still used travel agents in 2020. Right about the time TSHTF, I was headed down to Florida with my kids to see spring training games and then go to Harry Potter World at Universal. Got the message from my team contact while I was driving that games were cancelled. He had warned me earlier that it might be coming, but I was stubborn, really wanted to see some baseball after a rough winter. Next day found out Universal Studios was shutting their theme parks.

I called to get a refund and spend hours on hold before getting through. I had booked 4 days at the park plus hotel for about $1800. They told me a refund would be coming, but not for 5-6 weeks. That seemed strange to me, as when I booked the trip my credit card was billed the same day. Isn't this the exact same process, just with a negative number? But about 4 weeks later the full refund came through, so I've got no complaints on Universal.

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