Knights fans get 'charging' penalty

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

When Jamie Neilson was told he would be getting a full refund for a hockey game that never took place, he believed that meant he would be getting back all his money.

No one told him that because he ordered his tickets online, it was going to cost him $3 whether the game was played or not.

"The hockey game never took place," he said. "How can they charge me for something that never happened?"

Neilson purchased four tickets online for the seventh game of the Ontario Hockey League Western Conference semifinal series between the London Knights and Owen Sound Attack.

The total cost was $93, a price that included a $3.50 service charge a ticket for New Era and a $3 handling charge per order that goes to the Knights.

New Era is a ticket company owned by Comcast-Spectacor, which is also the principal owner of Global Spectrum, the management group for the John Labatt Centre.

He didn't get to use the tickets because the Knights eliminated the Attack in six games.

Neilson paid for the tickets with a credit card. But when the refund came back on his card, it was for only $90.

"The only thing which isn't refunded is the $3 handling charge because that stays with (the London Knights)," said Stefanie Turnbull, director of marketing for the Knights.

"We don't sell tickets online during the season, but in responding to requests from fans, we offered the service for the playoffs. Lots of people told us they wanted the chance to buy tickets online."

There is no handling or service charge for tickets picked up at the wicket. There is a handling charge for phone orders, but if the game isn't played, that's refunded along with the rest of the money.

The handling charge is used to offset the Knights' costs in setting up the online account with New Era. New Era took over ticket services from Ticketmaster.

"(New Era) offers online sales. We have to pay a fee to use that online service," Turnbull said. "Everyone charges a handling fee for all tickets bought online."

Turnbull said the cost of offering the service is not covered totally by the handling fee.

When the Knights play the Peterborough Petes in the OHL final beginning Friday, the cost per game ticket is $25.50. If that ticket is purchased online, there will be an additional $3.50 per ticket service charge imposed by New Era.

There will be a $3 handling charge per order, whether it's one ticket or 10. If refunds are necessary, the ticket price and service charge will be refunded but not the $3 handling charge.

Neilson said when he asked someone in the JLC ticket office why there was a $3 handling charge, he was told it was for the "privilege of buying tickets online."

Neilson calls the explanation "garbage."

For many people, especially those who work during the day, getting in line for tickets isn't a possibility.

"The fact is, they are selling tickets to an event that didn't happen," he said. "They can say all they want about this being a convenience for the customer, but it's a fact of life that if you want tickets, you have to buy them online.

"For them to keep $3 . . . I wonder how many people don't realize they didn't get all their money back."


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