Josh Kolic thought he’d scored when he snagged tickets from Craigslist, at face-value, the day before a sold-out Radiohead concert in Toronto.
That is, until the stage collapsed before last Saturday’s concert at Downsview Park – killing the band’s drum technician.
“Obviously, $80 is a small thing in comparison to someone losing their life and the tragedy of that,” says Kolic. But he says that he’s not optimistic about getting any money back from an online reseller. “There is no recourse for me.”
It’s part of a new eco-system of ticket sales for major concerts: Unlike official channels such as bands’ websites or Ticketmaster, which have clear refund policies, resellers are bound only by goodwill.
Worse, those who buy from resellers often pay far above face value, so much so that artists such as Bruce Springsteen have pushed for paperless, non-transferable tickets to crack down on scalpers who buy swaths of tickets online and then resell them at substantially higher prices.
Still, not all resellers put their buyers at risk. Many are fans themselves. Tina Fance sold a ticket to Radiohead on Craigslist – but only because she realized she had to work the night of the concert.
The morning after the show was cancelled, she contacted her buyer to return their money. “It would be incredibly unethical not to refund,” she says. “I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to me, especially to profit off a tragedy. It’s abysmal.”
Dave Novak also sold a ticket he couldn’t use on Craigslist. After the show was cancelled he heard that LiveNation, who sold him his ticket, would automatically refund tickets. And he briefly considered pocketing that money.
“The reason I decided not to is because I didn’t sell [the ticket] to make money,” he says. “I did put myself in the [buyer’s] shoes. He’s a young man ... It’s really not an issue for me to refund the money. It’s just good karma.”