Request for personal banking information to obtain reimbursement of F1 race ticket raises privacy concerns

ByRichard C. Sloan

Jun 22, 2021

Formula 1 fans who have waited over a year for their canceled tickets to the 2020 Canadian Grand Prix to be refunded are now asked to provide their personal banking information to get their money back.

Michelle Savoy bought race tickets for her son as a Christmas present in 2019.

When the Montreal race was canceled last year due to COVID-19, it requested a refund from, which markets itself as an official supplier of tickets to sporting events across the world, including the Formula 1. The company is based in Monaco.

In early June, Savoy received an email confirming that the refunds would finally be processed, but there was a problem: The company said too much time had passed to refund the amount to its credit card.

Savoy was asked to complete a form asking for personal banking information, such as its branch and account number. Once done, the money would be transferred to his account within 45 days.

Michelle Savoy, pictured with her son, Eric Pitfield, and husband, Chip Pitfield. Savoy bought tickets to the Canadian Grand Prix for his son as a Christmas present in 2019. (Submitted by Michelle Savoy)

“Number one, a wire transfer from an international source incurs a fee,” said Savoy, who was previously expected to pay a 10% service charge for the refund. “Number two, I thought it was a cyberattack. Who asks you to fill in all your banking information online? “

When Savoy realized that the email was legitimate and that it was the only way she could get her money back, she decided to give up on the idea of ​​a refund.

“It was out of the question for me to provide my online banking information to an international entity residing in Monaco.”

“They have my email, they have my name, they have my credit card information. Why can’t they send me a refund through my credit card?” said Savoy, who lives in Toronto.

Several ticket holders told CBC they also felt uncomfortable sharing their banking information. One racing fan described the amount of information requested as “well below my DNA sample”.

But some decided it was a necessary chore.

David Briand of Mississauga is waiting for to reimburse him approximately $ 1,000 for his canceled race tickets. He had to open a new bank account that supports wire transfers. As soon as the money is in his account, he plans to close it.

“This whole experience has been a complete mess,” said Briand, who doubts he would buy tickets from them again.

Reimbursement of tickets delayed by several months

When the Canadian Grand Prix was canceled last year, customers were first told it could take until fall 2020 to be refunded, due to the volume of requests.

But for many ticket holders, this timeline has kept getting pushed back.

CBC first reported on the long repayment term in December after receiving emails from people who purchased tickets through the race promoter, Octane Racing Group, or various ticket resellers.

At the time, Octane refused to explain the cause of the delay or why resellers told customers they couldn’t be refunded until Octane refunded them first.

Many customers are reluctant to share any information that has requested in order to obtain refunds.

Then, at the end of April, Bell has confirmed to have acquired the Octane racing group.

After the change of ownership, all unpaid refunds were supposed to follow.

Bell spokesperson Vanessa Damha said racing group Octane has processed all refund requests from ticket holders for the 2020 Canadian Grand Prix.

Resellers, who have also been refunded, are responsible for making refunds to their ticket holders. If ticket holders have any questions, they should be directed to their ticket reseller, she said in an email to CBC.

Buyer beware

Professor Moshe Lander, a sports economist at Concordia University, said the overly complicated way deals with refunds is not normal and could end up damaging its reputation.

“They basically profit from their own customers, which of course is never good for a long-term business strategy,” Lander said.

The next time there is a race, people might remember how they were treated and get their tickets elsewhere, he said.

It can teach people to be more careful when buying products from companies outside of Canada, said Sylvie De Bellefeuille, lawyer for Option consommateurs, a consumer advocacy group.

Although Quebec has a consumer protection law, international businesses may not recognize these laws.

“It might be more difficult to get our money back,” said De Bellefeuille.

Savoy believed he had purchased his tickets from a credible source. She is annoyed and frustrated with the complicated refund process.

“I feel cheated,” she said.

Neither Formula One nor responded to CBC emails.

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