More Bad News for Cleveland Ticket Holders: Ticketmaster Changes Refund Policy for Events Affected by Coronavirus

click to enlarge PHOTO BY SCOTT SANDBERG
Photo by Scott Sandberg

Event ticket holders can't seem to catch a break.

In a four week period, more than 17 million Americans have been forced to file for unemployment due to the economic shutdown caused in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including a major blow to the billion-dollar concert and live event industry. All concerts, sporting events, and music festivals have either been canceled, rescheduled, or postponed indefinitely. And now, it seems as though most refunds themselves may be canceled.

Most recently, Ticketmaster, which sells more than $30 billion in tickets per year, has made changes to its refund policy. According to The New York Times, the policy included refunds for postponed, rescheduled, and canceled events as recently as a few weeks ago. However, they've appeared to quietly adjust the policy, which now reads: “Refunds are available if your event is canceled.”

According to NYT, Ticketmaster has acknowledged that it altered the language of its policy but defends that its refund policy itself has not changed. The policy gives event organizers say when it comes to refunding postponed and rescheduled shows, something customers agree to when they purchase tickets. In a statement, Ticketmaster claims that the “unprecedented volume of affected events” has played a huge factor in the company's sudden lack of flexibility when it comes to refunds.

Outraged ticket holders say their money is being held hostage.

Ticketmaster joins the ticket-exchange site StubHub in enraging ticket-holders after StubHub also rolled back its refund policy.

Last month, StubHub — which before the crisis, would automatically apply a refund for a canceled event — began offering buyers the option of receiving a full refund for a canceled event or a voucher, which is valued at 120% of their order to be applied for a future purchase. They then quietly revoked the full refund option for those 36 states that do not enforce consumer/refund laws. Michigan, unfortunately, is one of those unprotected states.

For postponed events, StubHub buyers are unable to redeem the coupon, forcing them to wait until the event is officially canceled, re-sell the ticket, or apply the ticket to the event's new date. A $500 million class-action lawsuit was filed by a Wisconsin man against the ticket resale site last week, urging the courts to prohibit StubHub from offering the voucher in lieu of full refunds.

In yet another upset to concert goers, one health official estimated that large gatherings — including concerts, festivals, and sporting events — may not be able to resume until fall 2021.
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