SINGAPORE - Come Dec 27, might Taiwanese pop superstar Jay Chou have to perform to empty seats at a concert in Singapore?
His show here this year at the National Stadium, originally scheduled for Nov 8, was sold out, with more than 30,000 tickets snapped by local and regional fans.
Since it was postponed to Dec 27 over concerns about the condition of the pitch for a later football tournament, the concert organiser Multimedia Entertainment said "several hundred" refunds have been issued.
It added that tickets for the show are now available across all categories from $108 to $338.
A number of ticket-holders Life! spoke to had expressed dismay that the new date clashes with their travel plans during the popular year-end vacation period.
If the returned tickets are not taken up by others, Chou would not be performing before a sold-out crowd here, which is highly unusual for him. At his previous concert tour stops here in 2013 and 2010, he sold out his shows at the Indoor Stadium over three consecutive nights on both occasions.
Even if the officially refunded tickets find new buyers, there could still be a significant number of empty seats on the night of the concert. Some ticket-holders say they are unable to get refunds from the official ticketing agent Sports Hub Tix because they bought their tickets from a third party, such as an online reseller.
One of them is administration officer Eve Lim's 19-year-old daughter. She had saved up about $500 from her internship to buy two tickets from an online reseller as tickets were selling fast via the official channel and is now unable to attend the concert.
Ms Lim, 50, says: "We already booked a trip to Bangkok that will clash with the new concert date on Dec 27. My girl bought the ticket from someone online three months ago and she has already deleted the contact. When I called Sports Hub Tix, they said I can't get a refund unless the original buyer goes down personally to get the refund."
Ticket holders unable to get direct refunds from the ticketing agent have resorted to trying to sell their tickets by advertising on social media platforms.
Local Jay Chou fanclub Jay2u Singapore, which had bought tickets in bulk for its members, posted a message on its page addressing those who had purchased tickets through it.
It said: "As the fanclub tickets are from the concert organiser, we need to return the tickets to them before SportsHub can proceed to refund the cash. A less cumbersome way is I suggest you try to sell instead of refund. Fanclub tickets location are quite good, so there won't be a problem with selling."
Concert organiser Multimedia Entertainment said it has only the records of the original buyer of the tickets. "Refunds have to be sought through the same avenue it was bought," a spokesman said.
She adds that fan clubs often buy tickets in bulk to watch their idol's concert: "They come dressed up and want to sit together. It's difficult for them to buy the tickets because the take-up rate is high for tickets for Jay Chou's concerts. We also set a limit on the number of tickets bought per transaction via Sports Hub Tix."
When Life! called the Sports Hub Tix hotline, the operator said that tickets bought using credit card can be refunded by crediting the amount back to the account. Tickets bought with cash require the original buyers to personally make the refund because the ticket is bought under their name.
While concert organiser Multimedia Entertainment says negotiations with Chou's camp for the postponement went smoothly, its spokesman declines to comment on whether there was any compensation made to Chou's team, or if compensation was made to the concert organiser by venue organiser Sports Hub.
Mr Ngiam Kwang Hwa, managing director of concert promoter One Production, says that compensation is unlikely in the case of postponements, because the venue owner would have likely issued a contract with a clause that gives it the right to postpone or cancel the event.
"It's up to the two parties to work it out, and it would be based on goodwill. The concert promoter may ask for help from the venue owner to help cushion their financial losses. It could come in the form of a rental discount."
The postponed concert comes on the heels of an ongoing saga over the condition of the pitch at the stadium. This is to allow the Suzuki Cup football tournament organised by the Asean Football Federation to be held at the same venue from Nov 23. The federation stipulates a minimum 15-day rest period for the pitch before the month-long tournament commences. During that time, no activity is supposed to be conducted on the field.