Can you get your money back for not liking WWE PPVs? Not Quite
Sep 20, 2013 - by Steve Gerweck
Pay-per-view sporting events are always a gamble because fans can never be quite sure that they will get enough bang for their buck – just ask anyone who paid to watch Saturday’s one-sided bout between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez. The same goes for the fans of professional wrestling who pay some $45 each month for WWE’s pay-per-view events.
Yet according to one recent report, those disappointed wrestling fans can get their money back, and apparently all they have to do is ask their cable provider. Is it really that simple? Not quite.
The background: WWE’s current main storyline features Daniel Bryan, a hard-working underdog who has become a favorite among fans. That popularity helped him earn a title shot at August’s SummerSlam, one of WWE’s monthly pay-per-view events, where he took the championship belt off of John Cena to the deafening roar of a sold-out Staples Center:
But the cheers didn’t last long. Bryan was quickly knocked out by Triple H, the match’s guest referee and Bryan’s in-story boss, allowing Randy Orton to steal the title. Bryan had his shot at redemption this past Sunday at WWE’s Night of Champions, another PPV event. The night’s main event was a title match between Bryan and Orton, one that Bryan won, again to raucous cheers. This celebration also didn’t last very long, however, as Triple H stripped Bryan of the title the following night on WWE’s weekly Monday Night Raw cable telecast.
Well it turns out some fans were disappointed that Bryan’s championship win was overturned. So disappointed, in fact, that they called their cable provider to ask for a refund for Sunday night’s PPV.
Sounds absurd, right? According to one report, they got what they wanted.
The story comes from PWInsider.com’s Dave Scherer, who reports that a reader claimed to have complained to his cable provider, Cox Communications, which then agreed to refund his PPV buy. Scherer writes that he followed up with Cox, and a representative told him that multiple subscribers have asked for and received refunds for Night of Champions.
It would be rather surprising if cable companies regularly made such refunds, particularly because WWE’s story lines are scripted. That means just about everything that happens on the shows – in this case, Bryan winning and then being stripped of the title – is preordained. Cable providers would therefore be refunding customers simply because they aren’t happy with the direction of the story.
That would to be an incredibly dangerous precedent for any cable company to set, especially considering how important PPV events are for WWE’s bottom line. The company’s net PPV revenue of $84 million in 2012 represented 17% of its total net revenues for the year. And while that income is up over recent years, the PPV revenue stream already has enough trouble with the many illegal feeds of the events that turn up online (a point made particularly clear when WWE came out in support of the anti-piracy SOPA bill early last year).
So can you get a PPV refund for disliking the way a story turns out? Not quite. But, as always, it seems that if you complain enough, you can sometimes get your way. I reached out to Cox for comment, and a company spokesperson responded via email that:
“It is not our policy to credit pay-per-view programs based on the outcome of the event televised. That said, we address specific customer service concerns on a case-by-case basis. I can confirm that a few customers have been issued credits related to this program.”
It’s unclear why those few customers were credited. If the refunds were actually made to consumers complaining about story lines, my guess would be that it’s because TV providers, as many readers are likely well aware, will often give up little things to keep subscribers on board.
I also exchanged emails with a WWE spokesperson, who wrote that WWE found the complaints in question to be an isolated incident and that the company has not received any requests for refunds. WWE’s statement, which can be found in full below, concludes rather succinctly that, “Asking for a refund would be akin to asking a movie theater for a refund because you did not like the way a movie ended.”
WWE’s full response:
WWE is not aware of any instance where a fan requested and received a refund for a pay-per-view due to dissatisfaction with continuing storyline.
While we have been unable to confirm whether COX actually provided any refunds related to this matter, we have confirmed with our distribution partners that this complaint was isolated. Moreover, our fans are much more likely to reach out directly to the WWE Fan Services department when the feedback is related to storyline. We have not received a single refund request.
While certain fans may not have liked the continuing storyline following Night of Champions, we’re certain that the 3-hour pay-per-view event delivered all the entertainment and excitement expected from WWE. Asking for a refund would be akin to asking a movie theater for a refund because you did not like the way a movie ended.