The O2 Arena in London has informed Michael Jackson fans that details of how to obtain refunds will be revealed “in due course,” while president and CEO of AEG Live Randy Phillips paid tribute to the singer.
Billboard.biz understands AEG Live will hold a meeting at 9am L.A. time to discuss the situation regarding the 50 O2 Arena dates. As reported yesterday, the promoter and its ticketing partners will have the cost and logistical challenge of refunding more than $85 million on 750,000 ticket sales.
“Yesterday was a day I will never forget, or want to remember. Michael was both weak and strong, clever and kind, talented beyond belief and equally insecure,” said Randy Phillips in a statement today. “He was a doting father, respectful son, loving brother, and caring uncle. He was my friend. I take great solace in the pride and confidence he exhibited during production rehearsals on Wednesday night. That is the memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
AEG Live was the producer and promoter of the “This Is It” concert series at the O2 Arena in London, which is operated by AEG.
“At this moment our thoughts are with Michael’s children, family and friends. We will announce ticketing details in due course,” said a statement on the O2 Arena Web site.
It also published the following UCLA Medical Center statement, which revealed that attempts were made to resuscitate Jackson for more than an hour.
“The legendary King of Pop, Michael Jackson, passed away on Thursday, June 25, 2009, at 2:26 p.m. It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However, the cause of his death is uncertain until results of the autopsy are known,” said the statement.
“His personal physician, who was with him at the time, attempted to resuscitate Jackson, as did paramedics who transported him to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Upon arriving at the hospital at approximately 1:14 p.m., a team of doctors, including emergency physicians and cardiologists, attempted to resuscitate him for a period of more than one hour but were unsuccessful.”
At more than 750,000 tickets sold, this is surely one of the biggest refund efforts in the history of the concert industry, and was characterized by one concert executive as the “biggest mess in the history of our business.”
There may have been a cancelled tour somewhere along the line that had to refund as many tickets but never in a single venue, because this would have been the longest single engagement ever, as well as the highest-grossing and with the most attendance.
It’s a complex and messy situation, and by law it has to be resolved quickly. Not only must primary ticket sales on Ticketmaster be refunded, but a significant portion of these sales were through the secondary market, as AEG Live partnered with U.K. reseller Viagogo on these dates.
Ticketmaster’s customer service line played a recorded message advising customers to “await communication” from the company regarding refunds.
It continued: “We understand this is an upsetting time for all Michael Jackson fans and we want to thank you for your patience in this matter.” Fans who bought tickets from unofficial sources, such as from sellers on auction sites or agencies, may lose their money.
Official secondary ticket partner Viagogo stressed that refunds would be made with minimal fuss.
“Everyone at Viagogo is deeply shocked and saddened at the news that Michael Jackson has passed away,” said Eric Baker, CEO of Viagogo, in a statement. “Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fans. All Michael Jackson tickets purchased through Viagogo will be refunded directly to fans. No forms, no fuss, just refunded. We will be in touch with everyone in due course.”
Secondary ticket service Seatwave also assured fans they would get a full refund.
“We are all saddened by the news of Michael Jackson’s death,” said CEO and founder Joe Cohen in a statement. “All customers who purchased tickets for his O2 shows from Seatwave are covered by our TicketCover guarantee and will get a full refund. Full information on how to do this is on our Web site at www.seatwave.com. We advise customers to use the Web site rather than our phone lines to obtain this information.”
These secondary tickets are typically priced much higher than face value. So somebody has to track down each reseller and each buyer and coordinate the refund transaction. Adding to this complexity is the fact that tickets were purchased from a global market, though the overwhelming bulk were in the U.K. When you throw in the large number of VIP, premium and travel packages associated with this run, the refund effort is more than challenging.