Ticket sellers Ticketmaster and Stubhub are facing the ire of thousands of music fans after the companies modified their refund policies amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As events around the world were canceled due to the pandemic, many ticket-holders were left waiting for their refunds for sports and concerts. But recent changes to the ticket sellers' cancellation policies left those fans wondering if they'd get their money back after all.
In a statement on Twitter, Ticketmaster said that over 30,000 events have been impacted by cancellations or postponements, and organizers needed more time to consider rescheduling options before deciding to offer refunds. "As of today, over 11,000 events, including over 4,000 postponed sports, concerts and arts events, have already authorized refunds," the statement read. "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."
Now angry fans are calling out a recent change in Ticketmaster's refund policy. According to a recent report in the New York Times, the ticket seller changed its refund policy from "Refunds are available if your event has been postponed, rescheduled or canceled," to "Refunds are available if your event is canceled." Ticketmaster acknowledged the change, but said that its refund policy has remained the same as it has for years and the company was only clarifying matters.
A spokesperson for Ticketmaster told USA TODAY that the refund policy for postponed events was always up to the event organizers, not Ticketmaster. The company's blog advises that ticket holders for postponed or rescheduled events can try to sell their tickets on Ticketmaster's resale marketplace.
Last week, a Wisconsin man sued StubHub, a marketplace for ticket resales, because the company modified their refund policy and offered coupons worth 120 percent of customers' original ticket costs instead of issuing refunds. The man said he had purchased two $120 tickets to attend an NHL hockey game, but when the NHL announced on March 12 that the season had been suspended, he asked StubHub to refund his money. According to the lawsuit, StubHub refused to issue a refund because the game had technically been postponed, not canceled.
A help page on StubHub's website displays the policy offering a 120 percent coupon for canceled events. A spokesperson for StubHub told the New York Times said that handling the sheer number of refunds for canceled events is nearly impossible.
The event industry has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic crisis, with the concert business alone at risk of losing almost $9 billion if shows remain canceled for the rest of the year, according to a report from Pollstar, a trade publication for the concert industry.
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