Ticketmaster announces it will offer refunds on postponed events after backlash from angry customers and lawmakers

  • Ticketmaster said it will issue refunds for postponed events as well as those that are cancelled.
  • Last week, two lawmakers blasted the company for appearing to drag its feet on refunds.
  • The company’s president explained in a letter that, as a middleman, the company doesn’t always have the cash on hand for refunds, but is working with event organisers.
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Ticketmaster has assured customers that it will issue refunds for the tens of thousands of events affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Live Nation subsidiary’s statement came after a subtle change on the ticketing giant’s website – and subsequent New York Times report – sparked outrage from consumers, members of Congress, and a state attorney general.

At the crux of the issue is Ticketmaster’s status as a middle man between event organisers and fans, the company’s president, Jared Smith, explained in a letter to Representatives Bill Pascrell and Katie Porter, both Democrats, who sent a letter on April 16 demanding the company provide refunds.

“For the 30,000 events that have already been postponed or cancelled as a result of COVID-19, we have already sent more than $US2 billion to event organisers, making it impossible to issue refunds to fans before recouping sales receipts from the organisers, as we’ve done in the past,” he said.

“To be clear, Ticketmaster intends to refund as many tickets as possible in as timely a fashion as is feasible. We are working every day towards that goal.”

Previously, refunds for postponed events were more tricky to come by, and were up to an event organiser’s discretion. Ticketmaster’s purchase policy states that event organisers “may set refund limitations” in the event of a date change.

In many prior cases, that’s left fans with the only option being Ticketmaster’s second-hand resell site as an attempt to recoup their money. However, Ticketmaster noted that its two largest organisers, Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Live, will being providing refunds “on a rolling basis.”

Live Nation stock price
Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, has seen its stock price fall dramatically amid a broader market selloff fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic. Markets Insider

Ticketmaster, a subsidiary of the $US8 billion promotion company Live Nation, is often a target of angry concert and event-goers in the best of times. Of the more than $US30 billion in tickets the company sells in a given year, most of that money is passed through to the promoters, venues, and organisers of event, with Ticketmaster collecting the fees that so often draw consumers’ ire.

The same day as Pascrell’s and Porter’s letter, representatives for New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office was looking into the matter but noted no formal investigation was yet proceeding.

StubHub, a major vendor of second-hand tickets, said in March that it would provide a 120% credit for postponed events. Refunds for cancelled events will need to be requested from the original ticketing site, the company said.

“The industry has come together to navigate this unprecedented time. We know fans are eager to return to live events, and collectively share in experiences with their favourite artists, athletes and actors,” Ticketmaster’s Smith said. “We need time to manage through so we are all in a position for that to become a reality, and we look forward to the day when we can come together again.”