Backlash: Changes to Ticketmaster’s Refund Policy Angers Fans Amid Coronavirus

Concert fans at a Cult Concert

Getty A fan of the British band The Cult shouts during the band's concert at the 11th Alive Festival in Oeiras, near Lisbon, on July 7, 2017.

Ticketmaster quietly updated its refund policy outraging fans who are now learning that money will only be refunded for canceled events and not rescheduled events, as they were previously informed.

The New York Times posted a screenshot of Ticketmaster’s previous policy, which said, “Refunds are available if your event is postponed, rescheduled or canceled.” Now, the refund policy is changed to say simply, “Refunds are available if your event is canceled.”

For now, the company is telling fans that if they have tickets to an event that is rescheduled or postponed but they cannot attend, they can sell their tickets on and the seller fees will be waived as long as the resale was posted between March 17 and May 31.

Ticketmaster Officials Say the Money Isn’t Theirs to Refund

According to an update posted on Twitter on April 14, Ticketmaster says it’s not up to the company whether to issue refunds — instead, it is up to event organizers. According to the company, with the unprecedented 30,000 events being affected amid the coronavirus pandemic and no clear path forward regarding a timeline as to when large crowds can gather again, event organizers are having a hard time setting new dates.

Organizers have their own policies on refunds, and Ticketmaster wrote, “While we cannot guarantee all event organizers will offer refunds on their scheduled events, we anticipate the vast majority will make a refund window available once new dates have been determined.”

Live Nation President Joe Berchtold told CNBC that 90% of all impacted shows will be rescheduled, while the remainder have been canceled. Live Nation has owned Ticketmaster since 2010.

Click this link to see the status of Ticketmaster events.

Upset Ticket Holders Took to Twitter to Express Their Frustration With the Company

In response to the change of policy, people on Twitter had plenty to say.

One user wrote, “So, you said everyone would be refunded in 30 days.. I was patient and waited. Came here to see if I was the only one that’s still waiting, but apparently not. Give us back our money, Ticketmaster! This is crazy.”

Another tweeted, “I can’t even access my tickets purchased via verified fan sales because the date passed yet rescheduled for June that probably won’t happen, you need to do good and offer refunds, especially for the fees you charge, telling me to sell the tickets is not acceptable.”

Yet another tweeted, “Refund people. Now one knows exactly how long this situation will last and many millions are out of work now. They could certainly do with the money you’re keeping from them right now.”

Millions of People Are Out of Work & Those Numbers Are Expected to Rise

The issue for many sports and music fans who can’t get their money back for indefinitely postponed events is that they need the money now. As Bloomberg reported:

Some economists now see the jobless rate surging to 20% as soon as this month — and there’s no guarantee it would stop there.

About 5.5 million people are estimated to have filed for unemployment last week, in data due out Thursday. That would push the four-week total above 22 million, roughly one-in-eight of the workforce — essentially wiping out all the job gains since the last recession.

People who frequent Ticketmaster events may have hundreds or thousands of dollars tied up with the company and no money coming in. While millions of Americans are currently awaiting their stimulus checks, Live Nation’s Berchtold told CNBC’s Squawk Alley the company has enough money to stay afloat even if it can’t hold any events until next year.

Berchtold said, “We have about $4 billion we can access.”

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