Like a lot of Eagles fans around Minnesota, Richard Darud is finding a signature line in the band’s song “Hotel California” — “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” — especially ironic these days.
The St. Paul concert vet has tried for weeks to get a refund for the two $350 tickets he bought to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers’ postponed April 3-4 dates at Xcel Energy Center, but to no avail.
Those concerts are among the many major Twin Cities shows that were called off because of the coronavirus pandemic but aren’t offering refunds — at least not yet.
“Hard to believe that the artists we grew up supporting and making them successful financially would blatantly ignore their fans and not refund us,” said Darud.
The Eagles themselves may not be to blame, though. Mass confusion reigns throughout the concert industry right now about when and how refunds can be given, and even who’s responsible for them.
Things got so harried so quickly as cancellations spiked last month that Ticketmaster — which controls ticket sales for the Eagles tour and most other major concerts — changed the wording on its website. Where it once promised refunds “if your event is postponed, rescheduled or canceled” it now only says “canceled.”
Several other concerts at Xcel Energy Center are similarly in refund limbo, including newly postponed dates by younger pop stars the 1975 and Camila Cabello as well as shows by country singers Jason Aldean and Reba McEntire that have been rescheduled.
A spokesperson for the St. Paul arena said that the only concerts for which refunds can currently be guaranteed are ones that are canceled. Those include dates with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and One Direction’s Niall Horan (who told fans that “I didn’t think it would be fair to you guys” to postpone without offering refunds).
Kelly McGrath, Xcel Center’s director of sales and marketing, said in a statement, “Promoters for both rescheduled shows and postponed shows are asking fans for patience as they navigate through this unprecedented situation.
“All tickets will be honored for the new show dates, and they are pausing on other action at this time.”
At Target Center, concerts by Rage Against the Machine, Tool and Roger Waters are on hold but not offering refunds. The Waters date — for which most tickets were over $200 after fees — has been put off until at least 2021. The Minneapolis arena’s representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
Smaller venues, such as the Dakota, First Avenue and various theaters in town, have similarly asked fans to hold onto tickets for shows that will be rescheduled.
For fans not willing or able to wait, First Ave representatives said they are handling refund requests “on a case-by-case basis” at their various venues (including the Palace and Fitzgerald theaters), and they hope to announce a clearer policy soon.
A representative for one arena-level band caught up in the mess, who did not wish to be identified, said there’s been a “massive breakdown in communication and accounting” in the industry that’s preventing artists from offering refunds.
Many in the industry blame tour promoters for the refund holdouts, including Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster and is the promoter behind the Eagles, Elton John and many other major tours not offering refunds. The promoters are generally the ones who hang onto ticket money until showtime.
Local and regional Live Nation representatives did not respond to requests for comment or advice to fans.
One argument — that the problem is too big to address right now — loses credibility in light of the fact that some of the biggest acts are offering refunds.
The Rolling Stones and Kenny Chesney, both of whom were due at U.S. Bank Stadium in May, each pledged to give fans refunds, even though they plan to reschedule. “Those unable to attend will be refunded,” Chesney said in a statement.
A Stones representative said “the band is absolutely authorizing refunds” for the Minneapolis show. However, even the world’s biggest rock act has no control over tickets bought through resale sites such as StubHub, which also altered its refund policies once the coronavirus hit.
In a New York Times article last week, StubHub president Sukhinder Singh Cassidy acknowledged that the company normally doles out refunds for postponed shows, but “practically speaking, that normal course no longer exists.” StubHub is now offering 120% in credit toward future ticket purchases in lieu of refunds.
The Times article aptly described many angry fans feeling that “ticketing outlets are being greedy at a time of crisis, holding billions of dollars in consumers’ cash that people now need for essentials.”
One Stones fan in Minneapolis, Jeff Moravec, still wants to attend their show whenever it’s rescheduled, but he’s seeking return of his $1,200 in tickets in the meantime. He’s confident Ticketmaster will come through.
“Ticket buyers have every right in the world to be concerned they are going to get screwed out of their money,” Moravec said. “I just don’t think Ticketmaster is the guilty party.”
Eagles fan Darud isn’t waiting on Ticketmaster: He disputed the charge for his seats with his credit card company, which some ticket experts recommend. (Darud is still waiting to hear back on the dispute.)
Another Eagles fan, Bob Bockrath of Omaha, wants his money back simply because he said he cannot make the trip to St. Paul in October, when the shows were rescheduled.
“I may have to just sell them and take the loss,” said Bockrath. And he raised another potential problem:
“What happens if the COVID-19 thing is still here in the fall? Do we repeat this whole thing again?”