Soccer fans are happy to see Orlando City back in action, but due to COVID-19, some season ticket holders feel the club can’t provide the experience they paid for and say they don’t feel safe.
For die hard Orlando City soccer fans like June Sparks, there’s nothing like the roar of the crowd and the action on the pitch.
“We have been fans since they joined the MLS. It’s been a really, wonderful experience, overall,” Sparks said.
Sparks and her son have been club level season ticket holders from the beginning, taking part in fundraisers and club events.
“We go to the galas every year, participate in the silent auctions, participate in the lady’s bingo,” Sparks said.
Then Covid-19 hit, and in March, Major League Soccer decided to suspend the season. Orlando City Soccer Club put out a statement, stressing that health and safety were their top priority.
But Sparks says she was caught off guard when she noticed the monthly billing for her season tickets didn’t stop, she was charged $3,200, even when the season had been suspended.
“When there was no real plan as to how they were going to be able to play the season out,” Sparks said.
Orlando city started allowing some fans back into the stadium 6 weeks ago but Sparks felt, that still wouldn’t give her the club experience she paid for.
“They’re basically charging you full ticket price for a stadium that’s loaded with restrictions and risk,” Sparks said.
Concerned with Covid-19, Sparks didn’t want to compromise her health. She asked for a refund but was told that was not an option. She was informed she had to attend the games under restrictions, or she would be given credit towards next season.
“Next year, we’re not signing up. I wish that everything was going to be back to normal next year, but I fear it’s not going to be,” Sparks said.
A Clermont man contacted Action 9 claiming the club denied him season tickets refunds after he cancelled because of Covid-19.
“I certainly do think consumers that have purchased these tickets, have a number of legal theories that could be pursued,” said consumer attorney Jared Lee.
Lee says, while consumers have options, an aggressive arbitration clause, written into the ticket holder’s contracts, makes it more challenging. But, since Sparks' health concerns are based on scientific data, that could help her case.
“She’s following a trusted source of information and that information should be given significant weight, if someone determines whether this contract is legally enforceable,” Lee said.
Action 9′s Todd Ulrich contacted Orlando City Soccer Club about both consumers. The club said it offered June Sparks credit for unplayed games next season and a loyalty bonus package that she turned down. The club did resolve the Clermont man’s complaint.
“It’s just not worth the money or the risk,” Sparks said.
Covid-19 related refund cases are still making their way through the courts, so it could be a while before consumers know where they stand.
In the meantime, keep records of all your transactions and using credit cards may offer you some extra protections.
Orlando City Soccer Club response:
“The Club values all of its season ticket members and has offered each member the opportunity to receive credit in the 2021 season for matches not played in 2020. Additionally, our members were given the option to select one of our two Loyalty Bonus packages to add value to their 2021 season ticket membership at no additional cost. We look forward to welcoming back our fans at Exploria Stadium.”
Regarding to your letter about our fan Shaun ----- , we connected with the customer and the issue has been resolved. Customer is happy. Thank you.
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