Earlier this week, it was discovered that Ticketmaster quietly changed its refund policy, in the wake of thousands of shows being canceled for the next few months. While Ticketmaster made nothing official at the time, fans started commenting that they were not able to secure refunds for postponed shows, something they were able to do before. Fans were pissed. Today, Ticketmaster tries to offer some form of explaination.
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. People got pissed, and the story got a lot of attention, including that of U.S. Congresswoman Katie Porter from California:
I applaud Ticketmaster for continuing to shine in what is apparently a competition to provide the worst customer service in any industry. Exorbitant ticket fees for negligible benefits—now taking advantage of a crisis to line their pockets? Next level. ?????? https://t.co/XySh6Ka04K
— Katie Porter (@katieporteroc) April 14, 2020
Shortly after, Ticketmaster updated their policy noting that refunds for postponed shows would be up to the artists to decide. It wrote:
"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."
Today, Ticketmaster released a lengthy statement that further tried to put the fault onto the bands:
“Ticketmaster serves as the sales platform for event organizers worldwide. Our standard practice is for clients to hold the cash from their ticket sales. Clients using our platform also retain the ability to set individual policies for their postponed or rescheduled events.
Typically, event organizers have had the flexibility to offer refunds for virtually all postponed and rescheduled events. However, the unprecedented volume of over 30,000 events impacted to date, coupled with continued uncertainty over setting new dates while awaiting clearance from regional governments, has led to event organizers needing additional time to reschedule their events before deciding to offer refund options.
As of today, over 11,000 events, including over 4,000 postponed sports, concerts and arts events, have already authorized refunds. While we cannot guarantee all event organizers will offer refunds on their rescheduled events, we anticipate the vast majority will make a refund window available once new dates have been determined. In addition, Ticketmaster continues to issue refunds for all canceled events.
The entire Ticketmaster team is working from home and doing its best to respond to all fans and clients. We will continue to keep fans up to date on the status of events via email and via our Covid-19 event portal.”
To try to spin this as anything but a bad business practice will be immediately rejected by customers. Ticketmaster already doesn't have the best reputation for their massive fees and inability to get tickets for popular acts. For them to expect fans to feel sympathy because acts don't know when they will postpone their dates is just not going to fly for most folks.
Ultimately, that's just the way it is, and many people will be left on the hook for who knows how long, for shows that might not happen until 18 months from now.
An update on questions about event refunds.
We will continue to keep fans up to date on the status of events via email and our Covid-19 event portals.
— Ticketmaster (@Ticketmaster) April 15, 2020