Tim Smith was supposed to see Michael Buble at Chase Center April 1. But the show’s been postponed indefinitely, due to COVID-19.
Smith is now in the same position as perhaps millions of others who also hold tickets to events that area in limbo: they’re also stuck. However, there might be help on the horizon – as early as May 1.
Smith says Ticketmaster declined his request for a refund of the roughly $400 he spent on tickets. So, he contacted NBC Bay Area Responds.
“I think they should honor the request to refund the money,” he said. “Especially given the fact that when the concert might be rescheduled it might take up to a year -- that’s a long time to hang on to someone’s money.”
When NBC Bay Area reviewed the Ticketmaster website on Wednesday, it laid out different handling for options events that are cancelled versus postponed.
“If your event was canceled ... It’s Ticketmaster’s standing policy to automatically refund you,” the site said.
READ FOR YOURSELF: Ticketmaster Refund Policy
But here's the thing: Lots of events aren’t being cancelled. They’re being postponed. In which case, Ticketmaster’s policy stated, “if your event was rescheduled, we are working with the event organizer to identify new dates.”
Translation: no automatic refund.
We contacted Ticketmaster about Smith’s case. A spokesperson replied with information that was not posted to the Ticketmaster website for the public to see. The statement, available only to reporters upon request, indicates that Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, are developing a new program to address the situation.
Starting May 1st, it will offer concert credits or refunds. Here's the full statement:
Live Nation will soon be rolling out Rock When You’re Ready, a full program of options for fans with tickets to shows that have been cancelled or rescheduled. Our venues across North America will be offering loyal fans a variety of Concert Cash credits to put towards future ticket purchases. For cancelled shows fans can choose to receive up to 150% of their ticket value as Concert Cash, and for rescheduled shows they will receive Concert Cash once they attend the new date. Those looking for ways to give back can opt to donate their tickets to health care workers through Live Nation’s expanded Hero Nation program. And anyone who needs or wants their money back will have the option to get a full refund within 30 days once a show has been canceled or new dates have been finalized. It takes an entire ecosystem to bring live events to life, and we appreciate the patience of fans as our teams work through the details of shifting these shows with artists, venues, and communities around the world. Exact offers will vary based on show and venue, and will be shared directly with ticketholders when they are available, beginning May 1.
As for refunds, note that you’ll only be able to get your money back within 30 days of when an event is rescheduled. So, you will have to first wait -- and then act fast.
“We think that that’s wrong,” said John Breyault with the National Consumer League. “At a time when millions are trying to do things like pay the rent and keep the lights on that it’s unconscionable for a company like Ticketmaster to hold onto that money.”
Two members of Congress just recently wrote to Ticketmaster telling it to step up. The company president, Jared Smith, responded in writing. He said, in part, “neither our clients, nor Ticketmaster, intend to withhold refunds on postponed shows.”
READ THE LETTER: From Ticketmaster to Congress
Ticketmaster says it’s letting people re-sell tickets. And it will “waive seller fees for fans that create(d) resale postings from March 17 through May 31.”
Smith told NBC Bay Area he’ll wait for the refund option. When the Ticketmaster program officially rolls out, we will provide an update.