Weeks after urging Ticketmaster to revise its refund policy in a scathing letter, U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Katie Porter (D-CA) say that more action is needed. The pair issued another letter singling out the country’s largest ticket seller for its practices during a global pandemic in which thousands of events are called off and millions are facing newfound financial struggles.
Pascrell and Porter argued that their colleagues in Congress have “moved swiftly to provide checks to families and small businesses” and that the Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster needs to take its own quick action to accommodate customers with refunds. They noted that the company’s current policy, which allows refunds for both cancelled and rescheduled events within a 60-day window, needs to go further.
“Ticketmaster’s policy reversal is a welcome start. But the company can and should go further to ensure that every single person is properly notified and able to receive a refund,” reads the letter. “We ask that Ticketmaster proactively contact consumers about refunds, using the personal data it collects for consumer accounts’ such as cell phone numbers and emails to reach people.”
“With rapidly changing circumstances, consumers are overwhelmed right now. That’s why Congress acted to extend the tax filing deadline, and many retailers have extended the period for returns. Ticketmaster should give purchasers until one week before the scheduled event date to request a refund. And regardless of event cancelation or delay, any customer who wants a refund should receive it. Anything less than that is unacceptable and could be subject to even more attention from Congress.”
Reps. Pascrell and Porter ended their letter acknowledging the devastating toll COVID-19 has had on the live events industry. They ensured that lawmakers will keep fighting for the small venues, struggling artists and impacted workers throughout the pandemic and rebuked Ticketmaster, saying it “should not hold customers’ money hostage,” particularly during these difficult times.
Ticketmaster President Jared Smith responded to the claims in a letter published by Billboard. Smith dismissed the lawmakers’ comments and said they “either misunderstand or elect to misrepresent the realities of our business and refund policies.” He wrote that the company agrees fans are struggling financially and should receive refunds, adding that Ticketmaster has already processed over $600 million in refunds.
“The fact is, the money we need to refund fans is held by our clients, many of whom are the same independent venues, promoters and arts companies the representatives claim they are trying to help,” Smith wrote. “Our clients are the lifeblood of the industry. They are the employers of the stagehands, performers, box office, concessions and security workers, and the struggling artists whose livelihoods have been decimated by government-mandated shutdowns of our industry across the country.”
Consumers as well as Pascrell and Porter initially called out the company for its now-changed policy that didn’t allow refunds on postponed events. Smith directly called out competitors like StubHub, Vivid Seats, Gametime and SeatGeek for not offering cash refunds for postponements and in StubHub’s case, not even providing the option of a cash refund for cancelled shows.