Ticket Vendors Criticized for Handling of Canceled Events due to COVID-19, Class Action Filed
Ticket vendors are being criticized for their handling of thousands of live events that were called off as postponements on which some do not offer refunds. According to a report in The New York Times, fans are fuming about being unable to get refunds for concerts or sporting events that have been canceled or postponed without any rescheduled dates. Consumers view ticketing outlets as being greedy at a time of a horrible crisis, the coronavirus pandemic, saying they are holding billions of dollars in consumers’ cash, which people now desperately need for essentials.
Changing Ticket Refund Policies
Their anger is further being fueled by the fact that some vendors have changed their refund policies even as the coronavirus pandemic has been evolving. Ticketmaster, for example, recently adjusted the language on its website with regard to refunds. A few weeks ago, it said people could get refunds if their event is postponed, rescheduled or canceled. Now it only lists cancellation as a basis for getting money back even though it suggests there may be other circumstances in which refunds may be considered.
Last week, a Wisconsin man filed a class action lawsuit against StubHub, the biggest marketplace for ticket resale, when the company dropped its refund policy. Instead, it started offering coupons worth 120% of what customers paid for the canceled events. StubHub has said handling refunds for such a large number of canceled concerts and sporting events is simply not manageable.
The biggest concern for fans online is whether these ticketing companies changed their refund policies after they saw the tsunami of claims building up. Ticketmaster acknowledged it made changes to parts of its website once the coronavirus stalled business last month, but its underlying refund policy hasn’t changed – not yet.
Surging Class Actions
There is no question that these types of situations hold a basis for a class action lawsuit. While companies may seek to protect themselves with language on their ticketing contracts or the so-called fine print, if concerts are indefinitely postponed, ticket holders can argue that such lengthy postponements are unfair or unreasonable.
While this is a pandemic that was out of everyone’s control and has affected a number of businesses of all sizes and shapes, this is a warning call for business owners to come up with a mechanism to ensure their consumers are satisfied with their experience so they will come back once the crisis is over. At the very least, keeping your consumers satisfied signifies a business with high ethical standards. Businesses need to step up and do the right thing in this turbulent environment.