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Be careful of third-party ticket sites, some sellers may not offer refund

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Posted at 10:25 AM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 13:48:48-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As we continue to rebound from the pandemic, we're all waiting for live concerts to come back, and when they do, you're going to want to be careful where you buy your tickets. One music lover learned the hard way that you have to be careful where you buy concert tickets online.

When the pandemic happened, that of course meant no more concerts. And while a lot of venues offered refunds on tickets, Bryan Kobylik, who bought his tickets online, found the seller was not so willing to give him his money back.

Kool and The Gang was going to perform at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center last year. However, the show late last March was postponed as the coronavirus had moved into Tennessee – and it still hasn't been rescheduled.

“I just would really like my money back. It’s $319 and some change,” said Kobylik.

The Nashville Symphony typically does not offer refunds to shows that are postponed, but as the pandemic stretched into the summer, the organization changed its tune.

"We talked to a ton of people during that time frame and the stories we heard were just awful. People had lost jobs and people had to move out of state and just circumstances really, really changed and we tried to be sensitive,” said Lindsay Bergstrom, the symphony's director of ticket services.

But Kobylik still didn't get his refund.

It turns out, the 71-year-old, who doesn't normally buy tickets online, had googled “tickets, Kool and The Gang and Nashville Symphony.”

And he got a long list of third-party or ticket resellers. Kobylik recalls clicking on the first one.

“Where did you think you were buying the tickets from,” asked NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

“I thought I was buying them from Ticketmaster,” said Kobylik.

Bergstrom says the ticket reselling industry has gone high-tech.

“They build websites. They buy the search words so if you type in ‘Kool And the Gang Nashville’ or something like that they make sure they buy up those words and those ads so that they appear at the top of the Google page or whatever search engine. And so, someone will click on that and they’ll be taken to a website that is pretty high-quality most of the time. It’ll list things like our address and even our phone number sometimes. And so, it looks legitimate,” said Bergstrom.

Bergstrom says when you buy from a third-party reseller, you usually pay a lot more.

If Kobylik had bought his two tickets from the symphony, he would have paid $150 total. Instead, he paid more than twice that amount.

Bergstrom says occasionally these companies will sell the same tickets to several people. And they often don't make it easy to reach customer service.

The symphony says you're better off buying direct.

“We are always happy to help in person or over the phone. Definitely always go to the venue’s website. And it’s going to be really apparent usually, something like NashvilleSymphony.org. We are a nonprofit so look for that .org web address. And you know you have the right place. Don’t ever just rely on a Google search. Make sure you scroll all the way down the page and find all of the websites, not just the ad websites that live at the top of the search engines,” said Bergstrom.

As for Bryan Kobylik, he eventually tracked down the company that sold him his tickets, but it was nothing to celebrate.

“The seller, he was the representative of the seller, said ‘well, until it gets canceled, we are not refunding anything,’” Kobylik said.

That ticket company told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that they do not to offer refunds unless the show is canceled – even if the venue offers refunds, even in the case of the pandemic and even when the show has been delayed for more than a year.

They say that's their policy, and that when someone buys tickets from them, they have to click a box and agree to that. Now that being said, after we talked with them, the company agreed to give Bryan Kobylik his money back.

The symphony meanwhile says they're working on getting Kool and The Gang rescheduled, though with the current health concerns, the earliest they will likely have shows again at the Schermerhorn will be this fall.