Oops, wrong theater — how about a refund?

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By Christopher Elliott

Arlene Verge’s theater tickets are for a performance in the wrong city. They’re also nonrefundable. Does she have any chance of getting her money back?


I recently ordered tickets to a show through a company called Box Office Tickets. I called their toll-free number to make the reservation. But I received tickets for the wrong theater. It was my intent to order tickets for the Kennedy Center in Washington; instead, I received tickets for the Sondheim Theater in New York.

I purchased four $209 orchestra seat tickets, and, instead, I got four $169 tickets and they tacked on $309 in extra charges totaling to $984.

Box Office Tickets’ recording of my order shows I agreed to the purchase of tickets for Sondheim. But that’s not how I understood it. I thought I was connected to the Kennedy Center Box Office, and the performance would be in the Sondheim Room.

I’ve asked for a refund, but Box Office Tickets’ tickets are nonrefundable. I know it was my error. At 76, my friends and I do not wish to travel to New York to see a show we can see here in D.C. All I’m asking is for some compassion and a refund on my credit card. Can you help me? — Arlene Verge, Berkeley Springs, WV


Box Office Tickets is correct. Its tickets are completely nonrefundable, which is clearly stated in your purchase agreement. What’s more, you admit to agreeing to purchase tickets at the Sondheim Theater. The recording verifies this. You admit that you made a mistake.

Case closed? No. After all, this feature is called Problem Solved. I’m not here to pile on with the rest of the critics who will tell you to accept your purchase; I’m here to help.

Let’s go back to your transaction. Box Office Tickets has a website you could have used, which might have prevented this type of misunderstanding. Carefully reviewing your purchase before pushing the “buy” button might have prevented this, as opposed to calling. (Related: Can Tickets-Center refuse to refund me after a canceled even.)

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Box Office will be issuing a refund

I’m a little troubled by the fees that Box Office charged you. I’ve seen similar fees with live events, and I don’t care for them. The price of your ticket is the price you should pay. Everything should be included. Why? Because it’s the right thing. (Here’s how to resolve your own consumer issues.)

This was not the kind of case I could advocate because the company was technically right, and you admitted to being wrong. Still, I suggested that you send a brief, polite email to Box Office Tickets, explaining what had happened and asking for a refund. The company isn’t required to give you anything, but it would be a nice gesture. I didn’t want to pressure it to do anything it didn’t have to.

A few days later I heard from you. “Well, you brought me good luck,” you said. “I just got a call from a supervisor, and I will be getting a full refund.”

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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 three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and 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 X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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