Travel service refunding money over Cowboys tickets it didn't have
By Barry Shlachter, Sandra Baker and Jim Fuquay
Star-Telegram Staff Writers
Ronni Sokol, the owner of Farmers Branch-based Maximum Sports Connection travel service, told us she has good news for scores of angry customers, some of whom traveled from as far as Mexico and Canada to attend the Dec. 16 Cowboys-Steelers game only to learn that tickets they had purchased from Sokol did not exist.
"We have submitted ALLLLLLL refunds," Sokol e-mailed us on Wednesday. "I do not know if they have all made it back to their credit cards. ... There were a few we had to refund by check."
When we told her that Ed Lopez of Eagle Pass, who organized a party of 57 from northern Mexico and South Texas, said he had only received $1,548 of the $13,548 his group had paid, Sokol said that the rest would be forthcoming. And everyone will have gotten their refunds by Monday, she said. "I am giving everything back; Eddie will be paid in full," she said during a subsequent phone interview Sokol said she had told Lopez not to come to Cowboys Stadium since there were no tickets. "I have e-mails to prove it." But Lopez said Sokol's warning e-mail was sent at night and he didn't have a chance to check his e-mail account before he left. "She could have texted me."
Otherwise, the entrepreneur took responsibility.
"Listen, this wasn't done under malice. I can totally understand the backlash," she said, referring to numerous complaints and threats by some irate customers to take legal action.
Then, it became hard to keep up with her mea culpas and apologies. Sokol, who has been in the sports travel business since 2000, put the blame squarely on herself. "I lost control of the game," Sokol said. "It was just me not being ready. I didn't realize how many we sold -- 120 reservations were put under a different game." At least 93 people did not get to see the game. Several dozen more accepted $29, standing-room-only, "Party Passes," instead of stadium seats for which they had paid hundreds of dollars.
"It was a huge mistake and we're making huge changes in my company."
What sort of changes?
"For instance, money and the budget side will no longer be in my hands," said Sokol. An unnamed partner from Missouri has stepped in and hired a certified public accountant for three days a week, she told us.
"We will right this. We will absolutely right this."
Her Maximum Sports Connection had "earned" an F rating from the Better Business Bureau even before this episode for failure to adequately address customer complaints. And several clients from a similar 2010 football game screw-up say they still haven't been reimbursed, including an army lieutenant colonel serving in South Korea. Sokol promised Thursday that she'll look into those cases.