She canceled her Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan tickets because of COVID. Then this happened

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Christopher Elliott

Tricia Lewis canceled her tickets to a Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan show in New Orleans because of surging COVID cases. Vivid Seats refused her request for a refund. Is there a way to get her money back?

Question

I canceled tickets to a Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan show in New Orleans that I bought through Vivid Seats. At the time of the show, there were too many COVID-19 cases and I didn’t want to risk attending it.

When I called Vivid Seats, they were experiencing “high call volume,” so I tried contacting the company via email. I received an automatic response that an agent would respond to my email inquiry within 24 hours. After two business days without any response, I contacted Vivid Seats via chat. They advised me the only way I can receive a refund for the tickets would be if the Dave Chappelle/Joe Rogan show gets canceled or significantly postponed.

I informed Vivid that the numbers are extremely high in that state and that I am not willing to risk my health for any event. A representative advised me there is nothing they can do regarding this matter due to the cancellation policy. I told them I had cancellation insurance in case I couldn’t make it to the event because of COVID-19-related circumstances. Vivid Seats told me to contact my insurance company. I could not reach someone at the insurance company, so I contacted Chase, filed a chargeback, and received a temporary credit. I lost the credit card dispute.

On Sept. 2, two days before the event and after I had lost my chargeback about the tickets, I received an email stating that Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan had postponed the show to October.

I just want a full refund. There is no way for me to go to the show on the new date because of a scheduling conflict. I am incredibly disappointed in the way Vivid Seats has handled this. Can you help me get a refund of $526 for my tickets? — Tricia Lewis, New York

Answer

I think you deserved a full refund for your tickets. But your case was a little complicated. Let’s see if we can simplify.

First, I think you were correct about canceling your tickets. At the time of the show, COVID cases in New Orleans were soaring, and even if you were fully vaccinated, this was no time to attend a large public event.

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Calling Vivid Seats was a mistake for two reasons. First, concerts were being canceled left and right and the company was probably overwhelmed with calls from customers. And second — and more important — you wouldn’t have had any proof of your conversation. An email or online chat, as you later discovered, gave you the paper trail you needed. A reliable paper trail is key to solving any consumer problem.

If you had cancellation insurance, you should have been able to file a claim. It looks like you decided to pivot to a credit card dispute quickly. You can file a credit card dispute under the Fair Credit Billing Act, but it has to be for the right reasons. Unfortunately, your cancellation didn’t meet the criteria.

Vivid Seats will refund your tickets to the postponed Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan show.

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Vivid Seats executives in our database. A brief, polite email may have changed the outcome of your case. But not after you filed a credit card dispute. The dispute is considered a nuclear option, and once a company has won, it will typically ignore you. But I think you have a stronger case now that the concert has been canceled, regardless of your unsuccessful dispute.

I contacted Vivid Seats on your behalf. It reviewed your case and refunded your tickets as a goodwill gesture.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. He also publishes Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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