Attorney General James Returns Over $1 Million to New Yorkers for Events Canceled Due to Pandemic Shutdowns
Thousands of New Yorkers to Receive Refunds from Westchester Broadway Theater
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that her office has recovered more than $1 million for thousands of customers who bought tickets to Westchester Broadway Theater (WBT), but were denied refunds when performances were canceled due to pandemic-related closures. The WBT, a live theater company formerly located in Elmsford, has agreed to refund tickets and gift certificates purchased prior to the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Customers have already begun receiving their refund checks.
“After the Westchester Broadway Theater took its final bow, thousands of theatergoers were unable to get refunds for tickets they had already purchased,” said Attorney General James. “For months, theatergoers were stuck in the wings, but today, my office helped put more than $1 million back into New Yorkers’ pockets. While the curtains are finally closed on this saga, we will continue to go after companies that refuse to reimburse consumers.”
The WBT provides dinner and live theater performances of popular musicals and concerts on an open stage. As of March 2020, the theater had sold more than 30,000 tickets to upcoming performances which were canceled when WBT was forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the shutdown, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) received numerous complaints from ticketholders that WBT refused to issue refunds for canceled shows. In October 2020, OAG opened an investigation into WBT after it was reported that the theater was permanently closing and would not reimburse patrons. Instead, WBT created a ticket exchange policy with the White Plains Performing Arts Center (WPPAC), whereby WPPAC would honor tickets and gift cards bought for WBT shows. However, no refund option was offered to WBT ticketholders, and the ticket exchange did not honor the value of the dinner portion of WBT tickets. Only 930 WBT ticket holders participated in the ticket exchange.
WBT has agreed to refund a total of $1,127,258.84 to thousands of customers, even the ones who participated in the ticket exchange with WPPAC. Gift certificate holders who show a receipt may also be eligible for a refund or may use the gift card at WBT’s new location in Chappaqua.
Today’s agreement is the latest in Attorney General James’ ongoing efforts to refund New York consumers for events canceled in the wake of the pandemic. Last year, OAG returned $427,000 to New Yorkers who paid deposits for events at Greentree Country Club in New Rochelle, but had their events canceled. To date, Attorney General James has recovered millions of dollars for New Yorkers in refunds for pandemic-related shutdowns.
“Once again, Attorney General James has helped consumers get the refunds they deserve,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “Many Westchester residents and others bought tickets to the Westchester Broadway Theater and because of COVID restrictions the performances were canceled, but the tickets were not refunded. I thank the Attorney General for her continued successful efforts on behalf of New York’s consumers.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an ultimate shutdown of all entertainment facilities and activities, including a cancellation of all programming at the Westchester Broadway Theater,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi. “However, it is unfair and dishonest for the Westchester Broadway Theater to refuse customers refunds for canceled programming due to circumstances beyond the customers’ control. I am incredibly grateful to Attorney General James for fighting for patrons of the theater who were denied refunds, and ensuring that New Yorkers receive the reimbursements they are owed.”
“The pandemic caused widespread economic despair to many businesses statewide, but in the case of the Westchester Broadway Theater, that is no excuse to withhold ticket refunds from customers for cancelled performances,” said State Senator Pete Harckham. “Attorney General James deserves thanks for making sure these customers finally got their money back.”
“The closure of the Westchester Broadway Theater was an incredible loss for our community, but that does not mean we should sacrifice consumer protections,” said State Senator Shelley Mayer. “I thank Attorney General Letitia James for her work to secure reimbursements that patrons deserve for canceled performances and meals.”
“I applaud the Attorney General’s persistence on behalf of our residents. The Attorney General has demonstrated that consumer protection is an important part of what we do as elected officials,” said Assemblymember Tom Abinanti. “The pandemic is no excuse for businesses to take advantage of their customers.”
“I applaud Attorney General James for her strong and successful efforts to return money to our local residents,” said Assemblymember Sandy Galef. “When theater events were canceled due to COVID, you would expect a refund to be available to the ticket purchasers. With the Attorney General’s involvement ticket holders will receive those refunds. This is a win for consumers.”
“One cannot understate the importance of returning money to consumers who likely had given up hope that they would be repaid,” said Assemblymember Steve Otis. “We are all thankful for the good work of Attorney General James in protecting these customers and having their payments returned.”
“People deserve to get their money back for canceled events,” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin. “I applaud Attorney General James for securing reimbursement funds for the thousands of consumers who purchased tickets to Westchester Broadway Theater shows which they didn’t get to see due to the theater’s closure.”
“The Westchester Broadway Theater brought joy to many in our community until it was forced to shut down due to the pandemic and unjustly denied refunds to thousands,” said Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow. “I applaud Attorney General James and her office for putting money back into the pockets of our community members.”
“Westchester residents supported the Westchester Broadway Theater for years, only to see the organization shut down and then ticket refunds to thousands of our residents,” said Assemblymember Nader Sayegh. “I applaud Attorney General Letitia James for steadfastly pursuing this case and securing more than $1 million in ticket refunds for patrons who deserved not only their money back, but better treatment for their support of Westchester Broadway Theater for many years. It is good to see justice prevail.”
If consumers are having issues receiving a refund on a deposit for an event cancelled due to COVID-19 statewide regulations, they are encouraged to fill out an OAG complaint form or call the office’s hotline at (800) 771-7755.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Sandra Giorno-Tocco and Senior Consumer Fraud Representative John Katzenstein, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General In-Charge of the Westchester Regional Office Gary Brown. The Westchester Regional Office is a part of the Division for Regional Affairs, which is led by Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber. The Division for Regional Affairs is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.