Ticket Company Goes Bust

Thousands of music fans in South Africa may struggle to get refunds for the canceled Josh Groban shows, as the company that handled the ticket sales has gone bust.

"It is with great regret and disappointment that we have had to withdraw from the marketplace," Ticketconnection managing director Lise Kuhle told the Cape Argus.

Two weeks ago, Kuhle told the estimated 40,000 ticket holders that they needed to get their money back from promoter Duncan Heafield, who is facing legal action from several of the suppliers on his recent troubled Celine Dion run in the country.

The Johannesburg Coca-Cola Dome, the country’s most frequently used venue, has already banned Heafield and said it would extend the ban to include Ticketconnection if it didn’t fulfil its obligations over the Groban refunds. Heafield is head of Kusasa Commodities Entertainment.

Kuhle told the Argus that Ticketconnection had been forced to apply for liquidation as Heafield has so far failed to make the refunds. The ticketing company has also been hit by massive credit card charge backs.

"A credit card charge back is when a customer simply asks the bank to reverse the purchase made on their credit card, and the customer is then directly reimbursed," Kuhle explained. "Kusasa says Ticketconnection must handle the refunds but they have all the money."

She’d earlier told Pollstar that she has been in constant contact with Heafield, who says he’s trying to get back his deposit money from Groban’s management. She said she’s also tried getting in touch with Groban’s management.

Kuhle said she was advised by attorneys not to comment on whether she saw proof that Heafield had actually sent deposit payments for Groban or how many of the estimated 40,000-plus ticket buyers are still waiting for refunds.

Heafield recently told the Cape Argus that he was in the process of refunding dissatisfied Dion fans who were unable to enter the Vergelegen Wine Estate because they were stuck in traffic for hours.

Greg Bold, owner of the catering company Spotted Zebra that catered for the setup and breakdown crew for the Dion concert in Durban, said he’s sent a lawyer’s letter to Heafield saying that he had seven days to pay up the Rand 111,000 (US$ 4,000) he’s owed or he will take him to court.

Anton Gillis, GM of Protea Hotel Fire & Ice in Cape Town, says Kusasa owes his company and the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction more than R600,000 (US$76,000) for hosting guests.

He says his attorneys issued letters of demand to Kusasa but they have so far gone unanswered.

Kirsten Wier says her project management consultancy company, which covered the staffing, hiring and sale of beverages for some of the Dion concerts, is owed R1.5 million (US$190,000).

Others who’ve already said they’ve taken legal action against Kusasa include Steve Haag, who has a limousine company called Entertainment U.K. and runs the hospitality suite at Durban ABSA Stadium, MainEvent Catering, Executive Bodyguards, and Computicket.

Gerry Hayes from Computicket, the country’s major ticket-seller, says his company has outstanding legal action against Heafield, who allegedly reneged on an exclusive ticketing deal for his shows by enlisting Ticketconnection.

Heafield, who didn’t respond to Pollstar requests for comment at press time, is suing fellow South African promoter Hazel Feldman for R111 million (US$14 million).

R8 million is reportedly for defamation of character, R26 million for breach of contract, R54 million for loss of income (for the canceled Groban concerts), and R23 million for breach of confidentiality.