Elton fans entitled to partial refund, says Consumer

Sir Elton John managed to sing 16 out of 25 songs before needing to abandon Sunday night's show...
Sir Elton John managed to sing 16 out of 25 songs before needing to abandon Sunday night's show at Mt Smart. Photo: Getty Images
Sir Elton John fans who attended Sunday's Auckland show cut short after the superstar became ill could be entitled to partial refunds, Consumer NZ says.

And as fans for tomorrow night's rescheduled show scramble to change their plans, Jetstar said this morning they will move flights free of charge. But some customers were already out of pocket, having been told they had to pay to rebook.

John left the stage in tears about two-thirds of the way through Sunday's Mt Smart performance as his voice deserted him.

Medical staff rushed to give John, suffering from walking pneumonia, oxygen on stage as he told them he felt dizzy. The 72-year-old eventually had to end the show after hammering out 16 of the 25 songs on his set list.

The next Auckland show has been rescheduled from tonight to Wednesday. Thursday's remains the same.

Concert promoter Michael Chugg said those who attended the performance won't get a refund for the shortened performance as John "played over two hours".

But Consumer NZ's head of research Jessica Wilson told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning that, as fans only saw about two thirds of the promised set list, they could be in for a partial refund.

"It is a contract. People have bought tickets to an event, the advertiser promised a full Elton John concert, and they only got part of it, they could get a partial refund. People should only pay for what they receive."

There was precedent in that concertgoers received refunds when a headline act pulled out from a multi-artist bill, she said.

Her advice was for disgruntled fans to go back to the ticket agent. If that was not successful, they could take their case to the disputes tribunal.

"If you have forked out several hundred dollars in the expectation this could be the last chance you get to see Elton John, and you did not get that experience, you might likely think it is worth pursuing."

Any refund could be proportional to the experience not received, so in this case about a third, Wilson said.

According to the Ticketmaster website, all sales were final and there were no refunds, exchanges or cancellations except when required by law.

People can also submit a refund request through the website.

Air New Zealand said it has introduced special fare flexibility to those affected by the rescheduling of the Tuesday show.

"As a gesture of goodwill, Air New Zealand is offering customers affected by this change the opportunity to defer travel plans by one day without cost by calling its contact centre," the national carrier said in a statement.

"The airline will waive any service fees or fare difference associated with moving the booking."

Passengers who no longer want to travel can choose to the hold the value of their fare in credit for up to 12 months. Service fees will be waived but any fare difference will apply.

A Jetstar spokesperson said this morning that anyone with a ticket for the rescheduled gig could move their flight free of charge.

But earlier, a fan, Lorraine, told Newstalk ZB she and her husband had initially been informed by Jetstar they had to cover the cost of rescheduling their return flights from Wellington themselves, which was about $900.

Instead, they forfeited the return flights and purchased two new ones for about $300, but also had to pay for an extra night's accommodation and take another day off work.

"My husband phoned them yesterday, as soon as we found out. They said we would have to pay for the transfer.

"There will be a lot of people who had to change flights yesterday... and paid that extra money. They should have [announced it] straight away."

Meanwhile, some fans also faced challenges changing accommodation bookings.

Hamilton woman Susan Wood said after Tuesday's show was changed to Wednesday, Auckland's Copthorne Hotel told her she could not change her $300 booking, and Wednesday night was completely full.

She and her friend decided to forfeit the booking and drive back on Wednesday after the show, but shortly after the New Zealand Herald contacted the hotel chain, Wood received a phone call from the manager informing her she would receive $300 in credit.

"I was a bit surprised at their initial reaction. At the end of the day it is not a big deal but they were so closed, just said it was outside their control.

"So it was nice to have them phone me directly, I just wish they had been like that from the start and hope they do the same for others in the same position."

The Copthorne has not responded to the Herald's request for comment.

John, who had earlier needed medical assistance while on stage, broke down in tears on Sunday evening and needed to be assisted from the stage after attempting to sing Daniel.

Walking pneumonia is an infection caused by bacteria that primarily affects an individual's lower and upper respiratory tract.

The condition is not as severe as the other forms of pneumonia and in most cases hospitalisation and bed rest are not required for recovery. It goes unnoticed and feels similar to the common cold for most individuals.

Fans praised John's work ethic on social media, thanking him for giving the performance all he had.

"Sir Elton John, what a great concert," wrote one. "Very sad to see you leave but the concert was amazing, you did the best you could."

John later reached out to fans, thanking them for their support and saying he was upset that he could not complete the show.

"I played and sang my heart out, until my voice could sing no more. I'm disappointed, deeply upset and sorry. I gave it all I had. Thank you so much for your extraordinary support and all the love you showed me during tonight's performance. I am eternally grateful."

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