Beijing ticket mess may cost $6 million 

VANOC repeats warning to buy Olympic tickets only from official sources

A Canadian sports travel company has been hit with a class action lawsuit out of the U.S. for allegedly failing to meet its obligations to provide tickets for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.

“I can tell you when (my clients) showed up in China and they found out there were no opening ceremony tickets they were fit to be tied,” said U.S. lawyer Jim Moriarty who filed the class action suit in Houston, Texas Tuesday.

He is asking for between $4 million and $6 million from Winnipeg’s Roadtrips Sport Travel and Tours based on a class of about 240 people.

Moriarty is not seeking punitive damages only reimbursement of costs. “It is for the actual costs that people paid for trips that were promised to be trips of a lifetime but turned out to be a nightmare,” he said.

The statement of claim alleges that some Roadtrips customers travelled to Beijing to see the Summer Olympic Games, especially the opening ceremonies, only to get a big surprise.

“The day before the opening ceremonies, Roadtrips informed the Plaintiffs and other Class Members that it would not be able to deliver any opening ceremony tickets as promised,” states the claim.

Moriarty said his clients have told him that they would not have gone to the Summer Games had they known they were not getting tickets to the opening.

“…The people I have talked to told me point blank that they would not have gone on the trip if they hadn’t believed they had guaranteed opening ceremony tickets,” he said.

The suit is filed on behalf of Barry and Phyllis Connelly, Borden Liu and all other persons similarly situated.

According to the claim Roadtrip, which does 45 per cent to its business in the U.S., told the plaintiffs that the ceremony tickets could not be mailed to them because of their high value and would instead be delivered to them in Beijing.

Roadtrips’ president Dave Guenther would not comment except in an e-mailed response.

“Roadtrips considers Jim Moriarty's characterization of Roadtrips and its situation in Beijing to be wildly inaccurate and defamatory,” states the e-mail.

“In particular, Mr. Moriarty presently only represents two Roadtrips clients with invoices totaling less than $35,000, not the 326 travelers and $5M that he claims to be acting on behalf of.”

The e-mail goes on to explain that the supplier of the ceremony tickets fell through unexpectedly and that all affected clients received “full refunds of the purchase price for the undelivered tickets and were also offered additional compensation, complimentary tickets to other events, and provided the balance of their event tickets and tour package services.”

Roadtrips was not an official supplier of tickets of Beijing. It is also not an official source of tickets to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, said the 2010 Vancouver Organizing Committee recently.

It warned Games ticket buyers to stay with official sources for tickets to avoid this type of experience. Canadians can buy tickets though VANOC at www.vancouver2010.com and hospitality packages through Jet Set Sports.

Roadtrips’ website states this regarding 2010 tickets: “Roadtrips offers tickets to every Winter Games event, including the spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies. All travel packages include a Guided City Tour of Vancouver and the ability to create a spectacular experience for VIP clients by adding on private event transfers, private guide services, private airport transfers, and additional sporting event tickets.”

It offers three accommodation packages: one at the Four Seasons in Whistler for $8,650, one at the Marriott in Vancouver for $8,950 and one at the Plaza 500 in Vancouver for $6,325.

In the past some Olympic family tickets have made their way to unauthorized ticket sellers. VANOC has warned that any organization found to be doing this runs the risk of losing their allotment of tickets to the 2010 Games.

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