Ticketmaster, the largest ticket sales and distribution company in the United States, has faced scrutiny over its refund policies during the COVID-19 pandemic as many events have been postponed or cancelled. With large scale cancellations of concerts, sports games, and other events, customers have been requesting refunds in huge numbers, leaving many wondering if Ticketmaster is providing refunds fairly.
What is Ticketmaster’s standard refund policy?
Ticketmaster’s standard refund policy varies depending on the event. For most events, if the event is postponed, canceled, or rescheduled, the customer can obtain a refund within 30 days of the event’s scheduled date. Usually, refunds are available for the full cost of the ticket, including service fees. Customers must request the refund – it is not given automatically if an event is canceled. Refunds are generally issued to the original method of payment.
For some events, primarily music and multi-day festivals, Ticketmaster enforces an “all sales final” policy with no refunds and only ticket exchanges available. This stricter policy is usually at the discretion of the event organizer or artist performing. Non-refundable tickets will indicate the “no refunds” policy clearly during the purchase process.
How has COVID-19 impacted Ticketmaster’s refund policy?
The widespread postponement and cancellation of events due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 presented unique challenges for Ticketmaster’s refund policy. With over 500,000 events impacted just in North America in the first half of 2020, Ticketmaster saw an unprecedented volume of refund requests.
In mid-March 2020, with the surge in event disruptions, Ticketmaster announced adjustments to its refund policy rules. It extended the window for refund-eligible events from 30 days after the event to 30 days once a new event date is finalized. Refunds will still be provided, but customers would have to wait longer to obtain refunds until more clarity emerges around the rescheduling of events.
For canceled events with a “no refunds” policy, Ticketmaster required the event organizer to offer a refund or alternative options like exchanges or credits. This provided some recourse for customers holding tickets to canceled festivals or concerts. However, fans still had to wait for organizers to provide clear refund instructions and options.
What refund options are available for postponed/canceled events?
Currently, for events that are officially postponed or canceled, Ticketmaster is providing the following options:
- Refund – A refund to the original payment method for the full ticket amount, including fees. Customers must request the refund and wait until the event has a confirmed new date.
- Credit – An account credit for the full value that can be applied to future Ticketmaster events. The credit expires after one year.
- Donation – Customers can opt to donate the ticket cost to the event organizer or a charity organization of their choice.
- Exchange – If an event is rescheduled, customers can exchange the tickets for new event/seat options if available.
The exact options can vary by event. Event organizers may set limits on availability of refunds, credits, or exchanges. Ticketmaster has created an Event Guide where fans can check the status of specific affected events and see what refund or exchange options are offered.
What are the concerns around Ticketmaster’s refund response?
Ticketmaster has faced criticism over its handling of refunds during COVID-19 event shutdowns. Some of the major concerns include:
- Long wait times – Customers have reported waiting months to receive refunds for postponed or canceled events.
- Unclear information – Lack of details around when and how refunds would be issued, especially for “no refund” events.
- Credit concerns – Requiring customers to accept credits over refunds when legally refunds may be required.
- Fees not refunded -Instances of service and convenience fees not being refunded, only ticket face value.
A class action lawsuit was filed against Ticketmaster in April 2020 alleging the company was essentially holding customer funds during the pandemic disruptions without consent. Ticketmaster has denied wrongdoing and says it has faced immense volumes of refunds.
How has Ticketmaster responded to criticism?
Ticketmaster has implemented some positive policy changes and provided explanations to address concerns around its COVID-19 refunds:
- Staffing increased – Ticketmaster boosted staffing in customer service to improve wait times for inquiries.
- Event Guide – Central hub was created to check event status and refund options.
- Prioritizing by event – Attempts to process refunds for fully canceled events before rescheduled events.
- More self-service – Encouraging use of online self-service refund requests to ease high call volumes.
- Fees refunded – Clarified that convenience fees are included in refunds unless states prohibit it per local laws.
The company says over 11 million ticket refunds have been issued as of July 2020 with an average processing time of 60 business days. Ticketmaster has also been updating fans through blog posts and social media on its progress chipping away at the massive backlog of refunds.
What options do customers have if they are still waiting on refunds?
The first step is to check the status of your specific event through Ticketmaster’s Event Guide. This will provide details on the event rescheduling progress and indicate when refunds can be expected.
If your event has been confirmed as canceled or indefinitely postponed and it is past the 30 days from that announcement, you should be eligible for an immediate refund. Reach out to Ticketmaster customer support by phone or online chat to inquire about your refund status.
If you are still waiting after contacting support, here are some additional steps you can take:
- File a complaint with your state attorney general’s office if you feel there are violations of consumer protection laws.
- Consult with a consumer rights lawyer about your options to take private legal action.
- Submit a complaint to the Better Business Bureau to have your voice heard.
- Avoid chargebacks as Ticketmaster may ban you from future purchases if you reverse charges without their authorization.
Document all communication and research details on your state’s event cancellation consumer laws so you have evidence to support your refund case.
The COVID-19 pandemic placed extraordinary strain on Ticketmaster as it manages a flood of event changes and customer demands. While there have been widespread complaints, Ticketmaster has made policy improvements to address concerns, particularly around fees and credits over refunds. Communication and clarity for customers is still a work in progress. For customers still waiting for refunds, patience and persistence in contacting support are recommended over chargebacks. With concerts and live events tentatively restarting, Ticketmaster’s refund policies and response times face a critical test to retain customer trust and loyalty.