As the entire music industry canceled or postponed their live shows for the next few months, ticket brokers were feeling the sting. We already reported on secondhand brokers like Stubhub planning to petition the government for bailout money, but looks like they're not alone. The largest direct seller of tickets in the world, Ticketmaster, feel the same sting, and are struggling to meet refund demands. Rather than take the loss on the chin, Ticketmaster has went ahead and quietly changed its refund policy.
Digital Music News reports that previously, Ticketmaster would offer refunds for events that were "canceled," "postponed" or "rescheduled." The new policy now only offers refunds if the show is "canceled," but if it is postponed or rescheduled, you will not get a refund for the ticket from Ticketmaster.
The report says that customers on Twitter are saying Ticketmaster is trying to retroactively apply this policy to shows postponed due to COVID-19. Ticketmaster's refund policy page was also updated. Previously, it showed that refunds would be available for postponed shows:
The page very clearly no longer states refunds are available for postponed shows:
Previously, if a show was postponed, you could either keep the ticket for the rescheduled date, or just get a full refund. Now, instead of offering refunds, Ticketmaster instead gives you the option of selling the ticket yourself on their system, via their "Verified Reseller Program." Yea, uhh, good luck selling tickets to a show people don't even know will happen next year.
Update: A new message on Ticketmaster's website reveals new language that shows all hope is not lost for refunds, saying it's ultimately up to the bands:
"If an event organizer is offering refunds for postponed or rescheduled events, a refund link will appear on your Ticketmaster account," says the site in its message, putting the impetus on the event organizer as to when refunds may be offered.
Otherwise, you are encouraged to periodically check back online to see if the status of your event has changed."
Folks are naturally upset. Digital Music News reveals a Stubhub customer has already filed a class action lawsuit against Stubhub for not offering refunds for future postponements, and I can imagine one against Ticketmaster will be coming soon enough. Perhaps all the negative publicity will force Ticketmaster to change course.
Yesterday, a new report from a leading national health expert suggested, based on our currently trajectory with recoveries from COVID-19, that live concerts and large public gatherings in general would not resume until Fall 2021 the earliest.