Janet Jackson caused quite a ticket refund controversy back in the winter of 2015…and again in the summer of 2016…and again at the start of this year.
The pop star postponed her Unbreakable World Tour several times before finally merging it into the State of the World tour that is currently underway. The problem? Concert tickets are not cheap – they can often be a significant hit to the budget for many folks – and most ticket companies operate under the rule that refunds are only issued for cancellations and not postponements. One fan in California even took Live Nation to court to get her money back for a show that got postponed over a year. Should this rule still stand when an artists postpones as many times and for as long of a time period as Janet Jackson did?
In this case, though perhaps persuaded by the lawsuit, Ticketmaster said no, and refunded tickets upon request after the second postponement. But StubHub – the bulk of whose ticket inventory originated from Ticketmaster being that it was the primary seller, and therefore had already been refunded – said otherwise.
It was not until a customer filed a complaint with the New York Attorney General Consumer Frauds Bureau that they were able to get their money back. Even then, StubHub reiterated that they were a “ticket marketplace” and therefore “do not own any of the tickets listed on [their] site”, per a response letter to the Bureau of Internet and Technology. The letter continues:
Per our User Agreement it is noted that when a buyer places an order, the buyer is entering into a binding contract with the seller to purchase those tickets or related passes. All sales are final with the exception of canceled events or when a seller does not fulfill an order as listed…If an event is postponed and rescheduled, StubHub will evaluate the event on a case-by-case basis to determine the appropriate course of action. Refunds will not be issued for postponed events unless the event is ultimately cancelled…If a buyer is not able to attend the event on the rescheduled date, they are encouraged to list the tickets on StubHub as it is noted in User Agreement that refunds will not be provided for postponed or rescheduled events, partial performances, or venue, date, lineup, or time changes.
The letter concludes by stating, “although we are generally not in a position to issue a refund in this type of situation per the terms of our User Agreement, we have made an exception and [the customer] was provided a full refund”.
Attached to the letter is a 21 page copy of StubHub’s User Agreement and FanProtect Guarantee.
All in all, it seems a bit of an excessive process for a company worth $300 million-plus to refund a customer $300 for a concert that was put off for well over a year. And, may we add, a but consumer-unfriendly to be such a rule stickler on a pretty reasonable request.
Below is the full Consumer Frauds NYC complaint submitted to NYAG Consumer Bureau by an anonymous complainant on January 11, 2017.
On September 16, 2015 I purchased tickets via StubHub to Janet Jackson at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York, to be held on February 22, 2016. The total ticket price was $367.20. On December 26, 2015 StubHub sent an email saying that the show was postponed. Then on January 16, 2016, they sent another email that the event would be rescheduled to August 15, 2016. Finally, on April 6, 2016, the show was again postponed indefinitely. Although the show was not canceled, Ticketmaster and all original point of sale companies have issued full refunds for this event. Yet StubHub has refused to issue a refund. I believe that this “postponement” is legally false due to the fact postponements typically come with a specific date and venue confirmation. Therefore, I you consider this a “cancellation”. Because the original buyer has already received a refund, I would also like a refund.