Looks like the week of bad publicity for Ticketmaster continues. After news got out earlier this week that the ticketing giant altered their refund policy to no longer guarantee refunds for shows that end up being postponed, fans got pissed. Congresswoman Katie Porter commented on the situation, but now a New York state senator is calling for an investigation.
The New York Times reports that N.Y. State Senator James Skoufis, chairman of the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee, had requested a formal investigation from the state's Attorney General into the matter.
In his letter to the New York attorney general, Letitia James, Senator Skoufis urged her to look into what he said was a recent change of policy regarding refunds on concerts that have been postponed because of the crisis.
“I ask the Attorney General to intervene in any means necessary, including a criminal inquiry, and strongly urge these corporations to reconsider their newly adopted policies and refund consumers who are struggling to survive,” Senator Skoufis wrote.
Senator Skoufis also said that his committee had since January launched a broader investigation into practices in the ticketing industry. But he said that the cancellation of thousands of concerts since the virus struck had given new impetus to look at Ticketmaster’s practices on refunds.
“Deceptively changing the language of refund policies and excluding postponed or rescheduled events are forms of corporate robbery,” Senator Skoufis said in a statement. “Withholding billions of dollars that many now need to survive this pandemic is the antithesis of corporate social responsibility.”
“Ticketmaster is a sales platform and does not hold all customer dollars,” Ticketmaster said in a statement. “Revenue from ticket sales is held by our clients and event organizers. The entire industry is working through these unprecedented times to reschedule as many of the tens of thousands of disrupted events as possible or cancel them.”
“We believe the vast majority of our clients will open full refund opportunities once they have had time to determine if it is realistic to reschedule them or not,” the statement continued, “and we welcome the opportunity to work with legislators and regulators to ensure consumers and the industry are well protected.”
The Attorney General, while not commenting on if there is an active investigation, has said that multiple constituents who were ticketholders reached out with complaints about the change in policy.
Ticketmaster, which is owned by Live Nation, maintains that offering refunds for postponed shows is ultimately up to the artists. AEG, Live Nation's concert rival, revealed a plan to soon offer a 30 day refund for refunds. Live Nation eventually commented that they plan on offering a similar service.
Health experts warn shows won't return until fall 2021, so it might be quite a while until fans get to use those postponed tickets.