Refund blues
February 2, 2019 11:32 AM   Subscribe

I paid a friend for a ticket to a concert three months ago for a concert that will happen at the end of this month. I learned around Christmas that my job required me to fill in for a conference the same day as the concert. I asked my friend to sell the ticket but I think they may just keep the money. Should I push more on it or is it fair for them to keep the money?

When I notified them that I tried my best to get out of this work thing but I couldn’t go anymore, they didn’t say anything since we mostly text, it’s rare that we talk on the phone. There was about 2 months until the concert so I figured it would be enough time to sell it to one of their friends, or on Facebook.

She bought a set of 4 tickets for all of us and then we Venmo’d $170 each to her.

I said if they didn’t sell it due to lack of interest, I would understand but if they could sell it so I could get that money back, that would be great. I didn’t want to stress them out, which is why I worded it like that, but now I realize how stressed *I* am at not getting back $170. It’s a concert for the Backstreet Boys in a large city, so I imagine that it wouldn’t be too hard to sell.

Fast forward to last week, since I didn’t hear anything, I texted her again, asking if she would be able to sell the ticket. No response, but she would respond to other messages in our group chat.

At this point I’m irritated. If it were reversed, I would try and sell the ticket to get my friends money back.

Should I have incentivized it and tell them they can keep half of the money if they sell it?

I want to send a firm message of “Look. If you want to keep the money for yourself, just be honest and tell me so I know that’s how it’s going to be.”

I’m slightly disappointed because in the past when she’s been in rough times, I would always be happy to pay for her food or gas when she asked. Now, she’s doing super well and I’m so happy for her! But that’s also a chunk of money for me to lose that I could put towards my bills.

How should I proceed?
posted by buttonedup to Human Relations (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You probably should’ve asked for the ticket and sold it yourself. In fact, you should still do this. Ask her to send you the ticket so you can sell it. Maybe use the phone instead of text.

If she won’t give it to you, then you paid $170 to find out this person isn’t your friend, which might be a bargain.
posted by mpbx at 11:35 AM on February 2, 2019 [50 favorites]

You've paid for the ticket, the ticket is yours. Is there a reason you're not able to resell the ticket?
posted by phunniemee at 11:36 AM on February 2, 2019 [11 favorites]

Yeah, just say "hey, that's not an amount of money I want to lose, I'm going to sell the ticket unless there's someone you know who wants it" and ask for whatever information you need in order to sell it. That work doesn't need to be on them!
posted by trig at 11:40 AM on February 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

She has said before that since she bought all the tickets together that she couldn’t send me just one ticket. But I’m not sure how true that is...
posted by buttonedup at 11:42 AM on February 2, 2019

Tell her you want your money back or the ticket.
posted by dgeiser13 at 11:48 AM on February 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

If she will neither give you the ticket to sell nor sell it herself, then she sucks and is scamming you. Personally I’d reach out to the other two people in that group of four and ask them to intervene on your behalf, because this is a really extreme level of bullshit. You definitely do not need to give them half the money, it’s your ticket!!! Ugh. If the other friends won’t intervene, then these are garbage people and I’m sorry this is happening to you.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 12:01 PM on February 2, 2019 [10 favorites]

It sounds to me like your friend is an opportunistic dirtbag. They're ignoring you and responding to others so that they can keep your money. I agree with mpbx that finding out they are not your friend--while a bit sad--is probably a bargain in the long run.

As for whether you should bribe them to be honest by offering part of the proceeds, I would say no. Then the situation will be ambiguous and you will wonder if they're really a friend. Now it seems clear. Good luck whatever you decide.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 12:01 PM on February 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Some context for the situation.

First, it is not uncommon for tickets not to be able to be easily separated. If you were attending with your friends, this would not be a problem for you, because you would all be physically together. It is only a problem for things like you describe, for reselling the tickets.

But it is not in the band interest for you to resell your ticket, and so many times they do things like that as anti scalping measures- because most people looking to resell tickets are not individuals like you, but rather professional scalpers. This is one reason why they often sell tickets as a four ticket block in the first place.

It was unreasonable for you to not just ask, but expect, your friend to essentially become a scalper so that you can get your money back.
posted by corb at 12:04 PM on February 2, 2019 [5 favorites]

That’s...not what scalping is. The OP says nothing about trying to charge an above-face-value price to turn a profit. As a person who attends a lot of shows, I have never in my life seen a nontransferable ticket — there are some venues that require the cardholder to be present, but IME that’s in way smaller venues (ones where they’re checking names off a list) than the Backstreet Boys are playing. My guess is OP’s “friend” has a pdf with four tickets, one per page, which would be trivially easy to separate. Worst case scenario is they meet up with the buyer of OP’s ticket outside the venue, which I’ve done a few times. It’s not a big deal and OP’s friend is a huge jerk.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 12:11 PM on February 2, 2019 [17 favorites]

Sorry, that cut off! But looking at your messages, they seem disingenuous to your actual intent. The first message was just giving a heads up you wouldn’t be able to make it. That in no way says “I expect you to sell my ticket and give me the money back.”

Then you said “if you can’t aell it no big but if you can I’d like the money back.” That doesn’t say “I want you to do this thing”, that says “if you resell the ticket, please give me the money.”

Now you’re asking again “will you be able to sell this?” That lets her know that counter to your earlier casual tone, this does matter to her. Maybe she wasn’t trying before, but is now. Maybe she’s been trying, but isn’t very good at it. Maybe she doesn’t want to give you an answer, because she’s still hoping she can. The part I wonder is - why are you jumping to the least charitable answer? Is there any other reason you would have to believe she would secretively sell the ticket and keep the extra money for herself?
posted by corb at 12:11 PM on February 2, 2019 [8 favorites]

I guess I’m jumping to the least charitable answer because she has not responded to any of my communications, but will acknowledge me and other messages in our group chat. If she just let me know she can’t sell it, or will send me the ticket, or really ANYthing in response, I would feel a lot better. But she’s virtually ignoring me on any topic related to the ticket. I even called just now for the first time and didn’t get an answer. It’s just a bit disappointing. Thanks for all your answers. Perhaps I’ll just chalk it up to lost money this time.
posted by buttonedup at 12:16 PM on February 2, 2019

If she won’t give you either the ticket or your money, I would decide this person isn’t really a friend. I would not “incentivize” it by offering half. I would ask for the ticket so you can sell it, unless she has already found a buyer. Those words. “If you’ve already found a buyer, great! Just send me my $170. If you haven’t, with so little time left, just send me the ticket and I’ll do it myself. Thanks!”
posted by greermahoney at 12:19 PM on February 2, 2019 [7 favorites]

Is it just the four of you in the group chat? Ask her about it in there.

“Guys, I’m so gutted I won’t be there with you. [Friend] what’s the deal with my ticket? Sadly can’t afford to lose that money, so am going to have to sell it - what’s easiest, me or you to do it? Let me know which way works best for you so I can get on the case ASAP. Cheeeers!”

Passive aggressive, but she’s not exactly playing nice herself.
posted by penguin pie at 12:24 PM on February 2, 2019 [55 favorites]

This sounds like classic anxious avoidance to me.

Is there any way to talk to her in person? Is there a friend who can run interference? My real worry is that she will continue to put off dealing with this until it's too late to deal with.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:24 PM on February 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

(Or, less passive aggressively, call her instead of texting/messaging).
posted by penguin pie at 12:26 PM on February 2, 2019

Do your other two friends know that you are trying to sell the ticket? Having one of them bring a different friend would be a very easy way to handle the “can’t separate tickets” issue - you should ask them in the group chat if they have any potential buyers.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:55 PM on February 2, 2019 [9 favorites]

Are they hard tickets (paper) or will-call? If the latter, then it can be about finding someone else to pay to take your slot. If they're hard tix, then they're certainly separable and she's being weird and at any rate this is still about someone paying to take your place.

Also, are they reserved seats? Your friend might be gatekeeping on who they sit near.
posted by rhizome at 1:09 PM on February 2, 2019

Since we were all going to fly to this friend’s (who bought the tickets) city, my other two friends don’t know anyone to sell it to. It would either be sell to a friend of the friend or sell it to a stranger in her city.

I am pretty sure these are tickets that she bought online and was going to print out at home.

Thank you all for letting me know I’m not crazy for thinking this is strange behavior. I should’ve been more firm on my first request to sell the ticket, but I felt bad for not being able to come. Now I have said it more firmly and still not getting a response. I think I’ll just lose the money but understand this is not a friend anymore.
posted by buttonedup at 1:18 PM on February 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

In such a circumstance, it would be best to say "Oh crap, I can't go now. What a bummer. FRIEND IN CITY, do you have a friend who can buy the ticket from me? If not, please let me know and I'll sell my ticket online."
But since that has passed, text her and say, "Hey, it is X weeks until the concert, so I really need to sell that ticket. If you don't know of a friend that wants it, I'm gonna go ahead and post it on Facebook. Once I get a buyer, I'm gonna need your help with the Ticketmaster transfer."

If she bought through ticketmaster there is a transfer thing - she can transfer from her account to your account. It isn't simple but it isn't complicated either.

Then when you find a buyer, here's what you do...
- send each other photos of your IDs.
- get each other's ticketmaster associated email accounts
- buyer venmos you the money
- you transfer the ticket to her on ticketmaster
posted by k8t at 1:28 PM on February 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Is selling on Stubhub a possibility? I'm not sure about the four-block issue, but tons of people use Stubhub as an intermediary. Perhaps you could incentivize the ticket-holder to do this, if your not having the physical ticket is a problem. If you offered the ticket to a buyer for $150, for example, you could offer your friend a cut. It's less than the face value, but it's something.
posted by citygirl at 1:28 PM on February 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Assuming that it's not an electronic ticket that she can transfer and she doesn't have a friend that is interested in the ticket, asking her to deal with selling it to a stranger is putting some unpleasant work onto her. If it's one of the VIP Packages, she has to pick them up at will call and then deal with meeting up someone who may or may not flake out on her or show up late. And even if it is a transferable ticket, dealing with selling something like that on Craigslist can be a nightmare with the volume of fraud and people that will offer fractions of the asking price and then blow up your inbox when you say no.

That said, her ignoring you is rude.
posted by Candleman at 1:59 PM on February 2, 2019 [14 favorites]

What Candleman said. I have been the person buying a big thing and collecting the money from the individuals who want to go in on it with me, and it's a hassle enough to be the group secretary when it goes well. When one of those people bails (even for very good reason), it increases the hassle a ton. You're asking her to do a lot of extra work to get your money back for you, and it sounds like maybe you don't realize or appreciate that. Maybe she's not being a good friend... but maybe you aren't either. I would bet she just does not want to deal with the ticket, or with you. I'm sorry she is handling the communication badly.
posted by evilmomlady at 4:09 PM on February 2, 2019 [10 favorites]

I hear y’all, but I said I was fine with her not being able to sell it and have asked if I can get my ticket to sell it. It’s been a month now. This friend can tell me that they can’t sell it or that they’d rather keep the money, really anything. But its crappy to not say anything? I’ve realized on here that it can be tougher to either sell or give me my ticket for me to sell it, I can understand the irritation from her. But as a friend I would hope she would tell me that, like she has in the past, rather than leaving me hanging for a month with no options to even get the ticket, find out if it’s from ticketmaster, get an answer for something I apologized for not being able to make. Are you saying it makes me a bad friend for asking that first request?
posted by buttonedup at 5:01 PM on February 2, 2019

Good grief I don't think you're being a bad friend. It's not unreasonable to want a response from her. Yes, it would have been better if you had asked her to transfer the ticket directly to you in the first place vs. asking her to sell it for you. But you can rectify that now.

If this is one of the Las Vegas shows at the end of February, it's true that the VIP Packages can't be transferred. But those start at $500 plus cost of ticket, so at $170 it's likely you have paid for a transferable Ticketmaster ticket, whether it was mailed to her or issued as an e-ticket.

So now you get to make a new request that absolves her of any responsibility for selling your ticket. She can just mail or e-transfer it to you and you'll handle trying to sell it.

Bring it to group chat. Keep it simple and friendly. No mention of "if you just want to keep my money." The scripts suggested above are fine. The basic message is: I'm really bummed that I can't attend, sorry to miss the fun, if no one in the group has a friend who wants the ticket please mail or e-transfer my ticket to me so I can try to sell it.

Story time: a guy I was dating broke up with me out of the blue, just days after he had planned our next date and bought tickets for us to attend a concert of my choice. Even he had the decency to offer to transfer those tickets to me at no charge. Good luck!
posted by Majorita at 7:01 PM on February 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

She has said before that since she bought all the tickets together that she couldn’t send me just one ticket. But I’m not sure how true that is...

posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:11 PM on February 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind that some bands and venues now tie the tickets to the credit card used to make the original purchase. There is no ticket. You simply swipe your card at the gate, they box says there are 4 tickets and the 4 of you enter. All have to be together at the same time. It is supposed to preserve the "fan experience" by discouraging ticket speculation and allowing fans to buy tickets, but in reality is designed to let the big players in the industry control the speculation. They will buy blocks of tickets with gift cards, use the balance to buy other gift cards, then sell you the card on StubHub, etc.

Or your friend may be trying to find a way around this, or may have a PDF with all 4 tickets and not know how to separate them. Call her.
posted by Short End Of A Wishbone at 2:02 AM on February 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

I would think a friend would at least hint that that was the issue if it was.
posted by rhizome at 10:08 AM on February 3, 2019

Backstreet boys VIP tickets cannot be resold, they have a name. But for $170 I'd be surprised if you have VIP tickets, and normal tickets can be officially resold through ticketmaster, no Craigslist required - it's called something like "Fan to Fan Resale". If she hasn't listed the ticket for sale there, she's fucking with you.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:43 PM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

My first thought was that she doesn't know how to split up the four PDFs and she views this as either a major headache or simply impossible due to not knowing how to split the PDFs. I agree that as the ticket holder and the one who can no longer make it, it's your job to sell your ticket. The fact that she's the one who lives in the city where the concert's taking place is neither here nor there if they are PDFs and will be sold electronically (e.g. there shouldn't be any need for anyone to meet in person). If she has hard tickets that's a different story but it sounds like you're talking about PDFs.

Having said that, her complete lack of response is rude at best. Write in the group chat that you need to sell your ticket and will she please send it to you ASAP. If she says she can't split the tickets up, explain to her how to do it.
posted by sunflower16 at 5:20 PM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't understand why it's the friend's responsibility to pay you back for the ticket? If she can't sell it, then that's too bad, for you. You're the one whose work is requiring you to miss it, why should she be inthe negative for $170? She's your friend, not a million-dollar ticketing agency. (and even if she was, she still wouldn't be responsible for refunding the ticket. You paid for something that you can't use. It sucks, but that's how life works)
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:58 AM on February 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

(Sorry to double post, but on further reflection...)

If I was your friend I'd actually be kind of miffed at you for dumping this responsibility on me. Look at it from her perspective - she facilitated the buying of the tickets so that everyone would be able to go together. It was planned months in advanced. She paid for the tickets, everyone reimbursed her, everything on her end was done correctly. One of the people can't go. That sucks, but it's not her fault. Then she gets a message from that person asking her to sell the ticket (which invariably means wading through dozens of spam emails, flakes, fake calls, potential telemarketers etc.)

This is also about you not managing reasonable expectations. You were really flippant about selling the ticket, so your friend was also laissez faire about taking on all the headache above. And now you're freaking out and blaming her? You should have been up front in the beginning about how important it was to you to get the money back.

And, lastly, she's not "keeping" any money "for herself". You bought a ticket. The money you venmo'd her was to reimburse her. You did not pay her, you paid the ticketing agency.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:11 AM on February 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I asked my friend to sell the ticket but I think they may just keep the money. Should I push more on it or is it fair for them to keep the money?

I'm with the people saying you placed an unreasonable burden on the person who was already organizing everything - if I were your friend I'd be annoyed with you. The only scenario in which they're keeping any money is if they actually now sell the ticket, which may actually be pretty annoying depending on a whole variety of factors, speculated upon above. They are wrong to ghost on you, but you didn't handle this right either.

How close of friends are these people? To me $170 is an annoying amount of money, in that it's enough to be inconvenient but not enough to lose friends over.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:12 AM on February 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

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