Remember Efren Bojorquez? All he wanted to do was take his dad to Super Bowl XLIX. You’ll recall that despite his best efforts to purchase tickets through a secondary market options scheme, ticket prices skyrocketed, and brokers selling the options could no longer procure tickets, even if they wanted to. Ticket brokers canceled their agreements with participants, keeping loads of cash, and leaving would-be game attendees empty-handed.
The way Bojorquez responded to the ticket scandal proved important to how his story — and our involvement — played out. It also taught us a valuable lesson about rules, and when they are meant to be bent.
Bojorquez had invested $3,000 in the scheme, with the hope that one of the teams he selected would make it to the Super Bowl. When the operation ground to a halt, Bojorquez felt ripped off, and rightly so. The organizing ticket brokers made many thousands of dollars, and refunded money only to a small fraction of participants.
When this drama unfolded, Bojorquez first tried to get a refund directly from Ludus Tours, the company that sold him options for the tickets. The company never acknowledged his refund request.
Then Bojorquez tried disputing the charges with his two credit card companies. The first card, Bank of America, sided with Bojorquez, but the second, Capital One, sided with the merchant.
Feeling out of options, Bojorquez consulted an attorney, who framed the claims in a complaint filed in small claims court in Bojorquez’s home state of Arizona. The claims were made under Arizona’s consumer fraud statute, in part, because the company advertised that the purchase was a “guarantee” for face value tickets. Because of the stated guarantee and the failure to deliver on the promise, the complaint alleges the company violated the consumer fraud statute, by engaging in: “deceptive or unfair act or practice, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation or concealment, suppression or omission of a material fact with the intent that others rely on such concealment, suppression or omission, in connection with the sale of any merchandise … whether or not any person has in fact been misled, deceived or damaged thereby.”
Bojorquez lives in Arizona, but his broker-defendant lives in Texas, where Bojorquez hired a process server to deliver the complaint. When the company received the complaint, it decided to ignore it — a mistake that would prove to be fatal to its defense.
When Ludus Tours did not answer the complaint or appear in court, the judge ruled in favor of Bojorquez, in a default ruling. The court never heard the merits of the case, and Bojorquez was handed a ruling against Ludus, the company that wouldn’t refund his money. The court awarded all of the funds he had paid, plus court costs, for a total of $2,100.
It was at this point that Bojorquez contacted us. He knew that in order to enforce the judgment, he would have to have the court’s order domesticated in Texas, a separate legal process with its own costs that would undoubtedly start eating into his recovery.
Normally, our advocates don’t accept cases where lawyers are already involved. And actually, my colleagues Chris and Grant, who had been following the story since it broke back in early 2015, just asked me to review it. At that time, we were on the eve of this year’s Super Bowl, and Bojorquez hoped we would at least write about his case, to inform the public and prevent this from happening to others.
So, I reviewed it. I thought about it. I started asking questions. And once I did, I started wondering how we could help Bojorquez. I figured the first step was to write about it. I did.
Commenters on my article told me that because Bojorquez had filed a lawsuit, an advocate couldn’t do anything. And that was something I simply refused to believe. After all, he won his small claims case, which was closed.
So I asked Bojorquez about that credit card dispute with Capital One, and requested he send me his documentation.
And then I wrote to Capital One. In addition to the facts you already know, I wrote:
As evidenced by the time and money spent chasing after these funds in the court system, Mr. Bojorquez feels strongly that he is the victim of theft, and that he was let down by Capital One’s dispute process. In light of the court’s unappealable ruling in the small claims matter, your customer would like to request that the dispute be reopened and the funds be restored to his account.
Knowing that Capital One is not bound by the court’s order, I really had no idea how it would handle the case. And to be honest, I don’t think Capital One knew either. They found the first article I wrote, and in an unprecedented fashion, started questioning me about the facts — on the basis of my article.
Quick to discourage an analysis of the situation from the wrong angle, I wrote, “As a journalist, my characterization of a lawsuit should not substitute your company’s review of the case by a licensed attorney.”
Wow. That sounded a lot like the disclaimers you read on law firm websites. Nevertheless, I urged them to look at the documents, and see what they would do. They said they’d review it.
Over the course of a month, Capital One called Bojorquez a few times, only to tell him they didn’t have an answer yet.
Until finally, a month after my submission, Capital One said they had a resolution for Bojorquez.
Without explaining their justification, Capital One refunded all of the $1,594 to his account.
Bojorquez was thankful to get a refund of the money, but had one nagging question for Capital One: “Will you pursue Ludus Tours for the money?”
When a cardholder disputes a charge on their account, credit card companies investigate the claim, and decide if the cardholder’s dispute is legitimate. If funds are ultimately restored to the account, the funds are siphoned from the merchant’s Visa-linked account.
Capital One told Bojorquez that they were limited in what they could do, given the court order Bojorquez has, which is still enforceable in Texas. Capital One would not say whether they will pursue Ludus Tours for the funds.
While Bojorquez would have liked to have his day in court, he is thankful that we were willing to listen to his case, and think outside of the box.