Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that his office had entered a settlement agreement with RYADD, Inc. over alleged violations of state consumer protection law. The company, which operates ticket resale websites including TicketsOnSale and OnlineCityTickets through the Vivid Seats white label program, allegedly changed its refund policy during the pandemic, refusing refunds for cancelled events in violation of state law.
“RYADD thought they could pocket money for shows that never went on,” said AG Shapiro. “Even though Pennsylvanians purchased tickets with the understanding they could qualify for a refund in the event of cancellation. RYADD took advantage of an unprecedented pandemic to go back on its agreement to provide refunds, in violation of the law. Today’s settlement puts all ticket resellers on notice: if you deceive consumers to protect your own bottom line, you’ll have to answer to my office.”
The settlement is not the first for RYADD, which was one of several Vivid Seats clients that refused refunds to consumers in New York after the pandemic wiped out thousands of scheduled events. Vivid Seats was forced to enter a multi-million dollar settlement over its clients’ refusal to grant refunds last October with the New York Attorney General, Letitia James. RYADD was also forced to settle with Virginia authorities over the same practices.
According to the Pennsylvania AG, RYADD changed its refund policy in the wake of the pandemic, refusing to provide refunds for shows that were cancelled due to COVID, despite the tickets having been purchased with policies in place that required refunds under those circumstances. Instead, the websites offered consumers a credit good towards future purchase. As a result of the settlement, consumers in Pennsylvania who purchased event tickets through RYADD websites through September 8 of this year to any show that was subsequently cancelled and have not yet received a refund can file a complaint with the state’s consumer protection bureau.
Details about RYADD’s policy shift, and Vivid Seats’ knowledge of the change, were laid out in the New York settlement (TFS refers to Ticket Fulfillment Services, L.P. – the wholly owned subsidiary of Vivid Seats that encompasses its white label program):
During the months of March and April 2020, RYADD and TFS began to confer about the extensive dislocation in the secondary market for ticket events, and its impact on RYADD’s finances.
As cancellations continued to pile up, RYADD and TFS coordinated to limit RYADD’s exposure to an anticipated wave of refunds. On or about April 14, 2020, RYADD told TFS that it wanted to modify the terms of the Resale Websites’ Policies and FAQ pages to remove language referring to “full refund[s]” and refer instead to “‘compensate’ or similar language.” TFS promptly revised the policies in line with this request. The new Policies did not explain that the “compensation” RYADD intended to give consumers was in the form of store credit in lieu of a cash refund, even for consumers who had purchased tickets prior to the change
in the language.
On April 16, 2020, RYADD informed TFS that it “[did] not see any other way to stay in business unless we offer credit for future purchases on cancelled events” and requested that TFS help change its default response to canceled events from a full refund to a 120% store credit to be redeemed within the next 12 months. RYADD told TFS that this change was an effort “to do what is best for our customers,” and the following day RYADD asked TFS to send emails to customers notifying them of the new policy.
As part of the settlement, RYADD also agreed to make changes to confusing language on its website and to modify its checkout process so consumers immediately know the final price they’re paying prior to completing the sale.