An unfortunate result of the coronavirus pandemic was the canceling of live events. Events that have been canceled or postponed have led many people to seek refunds for their tickets, but there were complications to this otherwise straightforward process.
Ticketmaster, one of the largest ticket vending companies in the world, came under fire for its controversial policies (or rather, its change to its policies) regarding refunds during quarantine. As a result, lawsuits were filed against the ticket vending giant because of complaints that Ticketmaster retroactively changed their refund policies amid the pandemic to prevent consumers from getting their money back. Those affected called this a violation of their rights as consumers.
Ticketmaster’s Refund Policy as Alleged by the Class-Action Lawsuit
The lead plaintiff of this legal effort was a past customer of Ticketmaster. Derek Hansen alleged that the ticket vending company purposely changed its refund policies in reaction to the COVID-19 quarantine in order to prevent as many consumers as possible from getting their money back.
Ticketmaster’s new policy only allowed for people to refund their tickets if the event they were purchased for is canceled but not if they were indefinitely postponed. For many events, that was, in fact, the case.
Ticketmaster’s Refund Policy Causes Consumer Damage
Those folks whose events were not canceled outright were left stuck with expensive tickets to events that would likely not occur, would not occur within a timely manner, or would not fit their schedule. It was projected that major concerts and live events would not start back up again until late 2021, possibly as late as the fall.
Joe Berchtold, the president of Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation, stated that 90% of events were postponed rather than canceled. Hansen claims to have tickets to see a rock band that cost him nearly $600. The concert has been indefinitely postponed and would likely not occur that same year.
Mr. Hansen, and many like him, had their money tied up in tickets when they would prefer to have refunds, especially considering how many people were struggling in an economy hit hard by the virus.
Why the Ticketmaster Refund Policy Was Controversial
If Ticketmaster’s refund policy would have stated that postponed event tickets were not refundable at the time of purchasing, many would have been more understanding. However, the lawsuit against Ticketmaster focused on its efforts to retroactively change its policy.
At the time of purchasing their tickets, many consumers were under the impression that they would be able to receive refunds for a number of reasons, ranging from event cancellations to inevitable postponements. Unfortunately, Ticketmaster included what the lawsuit described as “unconscionable provisions” that purportedly allowed the companies to change their terms at any time and “bind” all users to the new agreement.
The lawsuit stated: “Prior to the coronavirus outbreak and at the time that [the plaintiffs] purchased event tickets from Ticketmaster…[they] assured customers that Ticketmaster would refund ticket purchase prices ‘if your event is postponed, rescheduled or canceled.’ After the coronavirus outbreak forced the cancelation or postponement of most large events and public gatherings, Ticketmaster retroactively revised its policies applicable to the prior ticket sales to allow for refunds only for canceled events, not postponed or rescheduled ones, including when postponed events are ‘indefinitely’ postponed.”
Ticketmaster’s Unlawful Changing of Its Policy
Consumers have the right to take legal action against businesses they believe have gone back on their word with respect to their promise at the time of purchase. This class-action lawsuit aimed to provide people who purchased tickets from Ticketmaster for an event that was postponed or rescheduled to any time after March 14, 2020 the opportunity to seek restitution and injunctive relief for the damages that those policies caused them.
Ticketmaster Adjusts Its Ticket Policy
Following the massive outcry against their questionable refund policy changes, Ticketmaster changed its policy once again to allow ticket buyers the opportunity to seek refunds for events that had been postponed. Live Nation implemented the “Rock When You Are Ready” program, which offered the choice between a 150% credit towards future live events or a full refund for postponed events. It should be noted that the refunds once again came with a catch…
Full refunds were only available for those whose postponed events had been rescheduled (of course, most had not) which left the matter of refunds to the organizers of the events, rather than Ticketmaster. This loophole left many people unable to access refunds, with Ticketmaster still holding on to their money.
Additional Ticket Refund Controversy
In addition to Ticketmaster’s controversy regarding refunds during the pandemic, other ticket companies and event organizing companies also saw an outcry from consumers. Stubhub, a ticket resale site, saw a similar lawsuit over breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation filed by consumers. Live Nation and Ticketmaster were also sued by MLB fans who were denied refunds for tickets to baseball games that were postponed because of the COVID-19 quarantine.
Seek an Experienced Florida Consumer Rights Attorney for Help
If you purchased tickets for an event through Ticketmaster and were unable to get a refund because of its policy changes, you may be entitled to take legal action via a class action lawsuit. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can provide you with the experience, knowledge, and resources that you will need to ensure that the legal action you take is successful. We are passionate about assisting those affected by unlawful business practices and will work with you to bring a class-action lawsuit that can recover financial relief in the form of a settlement after you have been exploited by a business.
To contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA about a free consultation on your claim you can either call our office at (727) 451-6900 or fill out our contact form online. We look forward to helping you.
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