PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Better late than never, the 2020 Olympic Games have finally begun. On Friday night, the opening ceremony will be seen across the globe with millions watching, including people who intended to be there in person.
With Tokyo under a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and spectators banned from the venues, an estimated $800 million in Olympic tickets are going to waste. For some, getting a refund is like attempting an Olympic feat.
"We were planning a trip of a lifetime, so we were really looking forward to it," says Susanne Galanek.
Traveling to Tokyo for the Olympic Games with her son Kris was special for two reasons. She says "On my bucket list I do have going to the Olympics and it was my son's 30th birthday and we both love sports and we both love the Olympics."
They started planning the trip a year in advance. According to Susanne, "We were going to go to diving, volleyball, swimming and we had tickets to go see the semi-finals of basketball."
The cost for the package, which included hotels, hospitality and tickets to the different events was over $10,000. Susanne purchased the package through CoSport, the official ticket provider for the United States, based in North Jersey.
But with coronavirus cases surging, and now spectators banned from the games, when it came to getting a refund Susanne says that she was told, "We would only get 75% of our refund back, which I thought was unacceptable."
That refund was based on the face value of the tickets and services, but wouldn't include the handling and service fees associated with the package. That would mean a loss of over $2,500. Susanne says, "I work really hard for my money and I said that's just ridiculous."
"CoSport wins either way. They're going to keep the money they would have made in profit whether she goes or she doesn't go to the event, and to me that's just wrong and I think that any judge would see that as wrong," says attorney Craig Kimmel.
He believes that Susanne shouldn't lose a penny.
"This company is providing you access and saying we'll get you in for a fee, we'll take care of everything. This event does not have access allowed any more, so the vendor really made a promise they can't keep."
Kimmel's firm, Kimmel & Silverman, is now representing Susanne, alleging that CoSport violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
Kimmel says, "From the contract that I read there was no intention on either parties part to have a charge in the event of something like COVID. You look at the terms and if the terms don't say CoSport can keep the money, they can't keep the money."
So for now Susanne awaits her day in court. And the games? Susanne says, "We'll be watching it on TV and saying, 'oh my gosh, I could have been there.'"
CoSport did not respond to CBS3's repeated inquiries. Records provided by the Small Business Administration show that the company, which also operates as Jet Set Sports, applied for and received federal approval for over one and half million dollars as part of the Paycheck Protection Program.
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