Thursday, May 9, 2013 | 2:27 p.m.
About this time last year, Marilyse Charbonneau was brimming with excitement, packing her suitcase in anticipation of the warm Las Vegas weekend ahead, a welcome respite from the biting Montreal weather.
Charbonneau and her father had been planning a surprise trip to Las Vegas for their mother to see Celine Dion perform at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace in celebration of her parents’ wedding anniversary.
The trip was pricey for Charbonneau, who works as an animal health technician, but well worth it — her mom and she had seen Celine perform in Canada a few years ago and became instant devoted fans.
“I was so impressed by her as a performer that I knew her Vegas show would just be spectacular. That’s why I wanted to come all the way out here to see her again,” Charbonneau says.
Days before the show, Celine canceled due to inflamed vocal chords. Charbonneau and her family were disappointed, but as it was too late to cancel their trip, she shrugged it off and vowed to come back to see Celine another time.
When she returned with her mother in February to do just that, the pair was already settled in their hotel room at Caesars when they found out Celine’s performance had been canceled yet again due to illness.
“If we had known a week in advance, for the price we paid, we could’ve gone down South for a week instead of being in Vegas for three days,” Charbonneau says.
She acknowledges that the cancellations are not Celine’s fault but has taken issue with AEG Live’s handling of the nixed shows, arguing that simply being reimbursed for the show tickets doesn’t make up for the nearly $5,000 she has already spent attempting to see Celine perform here. After some pressing, Charbonneau says, AEG Live did offer her upgraded tickets for another performance, but she says that’s not her point.
“I’m like, ‘Well that’s nice,’ but that means for a third time, I’m gonna have to pay for a flight, a hotel and food, which I don’t find is fair,” she says, explaining that an AEG Live representative told her that because the company and Caesars don’t work together, they were not willing to compensate for accommodations.
AEG Live did not return multiple requests for comment for this story.
Charbonneau admits that it wouldn’t be reasonable for a company to reimburse all travelers’ expenses each time a show is canceled, but says AEG Live should offer to pay for flights or accommodations the next time around as an act of good faith with customers with extenuating circumstances like hers. She still hopes the company might change their ways.
“What I noticed is that the first time I asked, they didn’t offer me anything, but when I didn’t back down, which not a lot of people do, I saw results,” she says. Even if she doesn’t get reimbursed, Charbonneau hopes continued pressure would persuade AEG Live to come up with a better way to help customers get the most out of their Las Vegas experiences when a show is canceled.
“I’m surprised that they don’t have a backup show or privileges to another show in case that happens because then you’re just stuck,” Charbonneau says, explaining that due to the short notice of the cancellations, most of the other shows they could have seen instead had already sold out. “For AEG, that money is like nothing, but most people aren’t rich. I worked overtime and had to take unpaid days off. People come across the world to see Celine’s show, and they don’t seem to understand that.”