It's taken over two years, but some Christina Aguilera fans might finally be getting what's owed to them: refunds for tickets to the singer's canceled 2004 tour.
Blaming vocal strain, the singer announced on "TRL" in late April 2004 that she was calling off the second leg of her Stripped tour, a 29-date summer outing with Chingy (see "Christina Calls Off Tour With Chingy Due To Vocal Strain"). Blaming bankruptcy, FansRule, the fan-club-service company that used to operate Aguilera's fan club, didn't make good on the VIP tickets it had sold for the tour. The ticket packages, which ranged from $125 to $325, were supposed to give fans seats in the first 20 rows, get them backstage and even give them a chance to meet the singer (see "Christina Aguilera's 'VIP' Fans May Get Bilked Out Of Ticket Refunds").
At first, many of those fans thought they would receive their refunds within the month. But what those fans didn't know was that FansRule had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection — not in the wake of the canceled tour, but actually several months prior — and had no ability to refund the money.
The Aguilera fans who wrote in to MTV News in 2004 complained that getting refunds via their credit-card companies or otherwise just was not happening (see "Aguilera Fans Out Of Luck"). Kristin, 23, from New York, said she "basically spent $280 on nothing ... the chances of a refund look pretty slim." Dineen, 16, from Milford, Massachusetts, said she's had "enough." And Zack, 18, from West Bloomfield, Minnesota, said the experience made him "hesitant to support Aguilera in the future." FansRule said at the time that the ticket-refund fiasco was "in no way the fault of Christina Aguilera."
Aguilera's team then hired legal representation to deal with the designated trustees for FansRule, Joe Baldiga and John Aquino, and the bankruptcy court to help out the fans. But it was a slow-going process, punctuated by sporadic hearings where the singer's lawyers had to fight motions from FansRule to pay the trustees before paying back the fans. According to Baldiga, some $320,000 was due as repayment to the hundreds of Aguilera fans who had bought VIP tickets.
But now there's hope in sight. Aguilera's attorneys say there are "sufficient" assets in the bankruptcy estate, now being liquidated, for FansRule to pay fans back, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Worcester, Massachusetts, is now accepting claims in the case. The singer's provided a form to fill out on her Web site, as well as instructions on how to make a claim and where to mail it by the August 22 deadline.
"You should know that Christina has arranged through her attorneys to ensure that consumers would be receiving the maximum return possible," the singer's attorneys said in a statement, "by virtue of the fact that Christina has agreed that any amounts due to her and her company should instead be used to satisfy the claims of the many fans who purchased tickets through FansRule."