Here's What to Do About Refunds for All Your Canceled Event Tickets
Here's what you can expect when it comes to refunds for concerts, Broadway shows, and sporting events.
Since mid-March, large gatherings have been prohibited all across the country due to the coronavirus. As a result, concerts, sporting events, Broadway shows, and many more big ticket items people invest a lot of money in have been canceled or postponed. And that leaves millions of disappointed fans asking themselves, "How can I get refunded for my canceled event?"
Well, the answer to that depends on where you got the tickets in the first place and whether or not the event is off entirely or postponed for a later date. Various companies have issued statements over the last month or so, detailing their plans for refunds. Some originally planned on issuing credits instead of refunds, which did not go over well with consumers, causing many companies to backtrack and change their policies.
If you bought tickets for a concert, show, or sporting event that has since been canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus, we've got the answers you need. These are the most recent policies from event ticket companies—like Ticketmaster, Telecharge, and StubHub—on how they are handling all the events coronavirus has canceled. And for more financial information amid the pandemic, check out What Everyone Wondering "Where's My Stimulus Check?" Needs to Know.
How can I get a refund for a canceled concert?
Ticketmaster, the world's largest ticket marketplace and a subset of Live Nation Entertainment, is sticking to its long-standing policy that, for any canceled event, you money will be automatically refunded in full, including fees, to the "original purchaser's method of payment used at time of purchase." With an unprecedented amount of canceled events, the ticket site explained to consumers that it may take up to 30 days to receive their refunds.
How can I get a refund for a canceled festival?
Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the company behind ticketing platform AXS and many music festivals like Coachella, Stagecoach, and Hangout Fest, as well as Las Vegas residencies at Caesars Palace's Colosseum, will also issue an automatic refund for canceled events. Like Ticketmaster, the refund will go on the credit card used for the original purchase within 30 days.
What about refunds for postponed or rescheduled concerts or festivals?
Ticketmaster originally came under fire for telling customers that they would not receive refunds for postponed or rescheduled events, unless the "event organizer is offering refunds." That meant fans could only resell their tickets using Ticketmaster's resale marketplace if they could not attend the new date. And, of course, they may not be able to resell the tickets for the original price.
After overwhelming criticism, Live Nation announced on Apr. 17 that it would be offering a 30-day window for refunds of any postponed or rescheduled events. For any events that have already been rescheduled for a new date, that 30-day window will begin on May 1. For events still in postponement limbo—those that have not been canceled or that don't have a new scheduled date—that refund window will open the day the new date is announced.
Billboard reports that fans will be sent an email on May 1 (or whenever the rescheduled date is announced) with the ability "to initiate a full refund." But if 30 days pass without requesting a refund, "their ticket will be good for the rescheduled date." Likewise, AEG will also issue a 30-day refund window for rescheduled events starting May 1.
How can I get a refund for a Broadway show ticket?
Broadway first went dark on Mar. 12, and it was announced on Apr. 8 that all Broadway shows would be suspended through Jun. 7. According to the official Broadway website, those "holding tickets for performances through Jun. 7, 2020 will receive an email from their point of purchase with information regarding exchanges or refunds." If you did not receive an email by Apr. 12, Broadway.org says you should reach out to your "point of purchase for information regarding exchanges or refunds."
As for Broadway tickets purchased through Ticketmaster, the same refund policy for concert tickets applies. Telecharge, another major Broadway and off-Broadway ticket seller, says that it will send buyers an email with instructions to refund or exchange their tickets, as some shows are offering the ability to "exchange tickets for a later performance." If you bought tickets from a box office with a credit card, you will automatically receive a refund to that card. However, if you paid with cash, you should visit the box office in person for a refund when it reopens.
TodayTix, on the other hand, has only said that they will offer a voucher worth 110 percent of your original order, valid for one year on shows worldwide. TKTS discount booths, run by the Theatre Development Fund (TDF), will remain closed in New York City, but executive director Tory Bailey released a statement that if you purchased any tickets through TDF for canceled performances "you will be refunded to the original form of payment."
How can I get a refund for a sporting event ticket?
Tickets for many sporting events are purchased through Ticketmaster, and the policies are the same as concert or other event tickets purchased through the company. However, many major sports leagues like the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS), and Major League Baseball (MLB) have only postponed their seasons, which means you'll have to wait for the games to be rescheduled before a 30-day refund window can be established.
If you bought season tickets or passes directly from a league's website, you have to consult the league specifically on how they're handling those refunds. The NBA says they plan to resume the season when possible and that "tickets already purchased for a postponed game will be honored when the game is rescheduled." However, if games have to play to an empty stadium (like many sports leagues are considering) or if the game is canceled, their website says that "teams will work with fans on a credit for a future game or a refund."
The NHL, meanwhile, suspended their regular season with 189 games left and issued a statement on Mar. 18 saying that "plan holders will receive credit for all postponed games included in their package," which will be able to be applied to rescheduled games.
MLS has issued a statement that says any tickets for postponed events will be honored for the rescheduled date, which has yet to be determined.
The MLB has skirted around releasing any official statement surrounding tickets, despite the fact that the season was scheduled to begin on Mar. 26. Now, the MLB is facing a lawsuit from a pair of fans in New York who are suing the organization for a refund after spending more than $1,000 combined toward postponed games, USA Today reports.
According to the lawsuit, the fans are asking for "full restitution, an accounting of all MLB tickets sold for the 2020 season (including season tickets, single game purchases, and public seat licenses), a declaratory judgment that defendants' conduct of continuing to sell tickets for the 2020 MLB regular season violates California law, as well as a disgorgement of profits from tickets sold during the 2020 MLB season."
What about refunds from resale sites like StubHub?
Many tickets for concerts, sporting events, and Broadway shows can be purchased through popular verified resale sites like StubHub and SeatGeek. But how do these resale sites plan to issue refunds? StubHub's refund plan is grim, to say the least. Normally, the ticket resale site promises a refund for any canceled event—refunding buyers, then recouping the sale price from sellers. However, because there are so many canceled and postponed events right now and they're unable to pay out buyers before getting money back from sellers, the company has turned to no longer offering straight-out refunds at all.
"It is currently impossible for us to offer immediate cash refunds to all buyers," StubHub spokeswoman Kate Brinks told the Los Angeles Times on Apr. 10. Instead, if an event is canceled, the company will be adding a coupon for 120 percent the value of the buyer's original order to their StubHub account, which they can apply to "one or multiple StubHub orders" until Dec. 31, 2021. And StubHub will also be getting their money back by charging sellers through their credit card on file to "reverse the transaction," leaving sellers to contact their original ticket company for a refund.
As for postponed events, StubHub says buyers and sellers have to wait it out. If the event is rescheduled rather than canceled, buyers are responsible for the tickets, which the company says they can resell on StubHub if they can't go or don't want to go.
StubHub's handling of the situation has not gone over well—so much so, that the company was hit with a $5 million class action lawsuit from a man in Wisconsin over their lack of refunds for coronavirus-related event cancellations. The plaintiff says that despite using StubHub's "FanProtect money back guarantee," which promises users a full refund for canceled events, he is only being offered a coupon.
"Dumping promised refunds for expiring coupons during the time of greatest financial suffering in recent history is cruel and wrong," the plaintiff's attorney Nick Coulson told Billboard. "Especially because people have no idea if they'll even be able to use the coupons—we don't know what the next 12 months are going to look like. To the extent that StubHub claims financial constraints have forced its hand (into its customers' pockets), those constraints are entirely of its own making. Through this action, we hope to provide people some small bit of relief during this uncertain time."
Meanwhile, ticket resale site SeatGeek is promising buyers "at least 100 percent" of their original order back if an event is canceled, as protected by their "Buyer Guarantee" policy. The website asks that fans do not "reach out with a refund request," as they will send a email for eligible orders with refund details.
However, there appears to be no option to receive money back for postponed or rescheduled events. Instead, SeatGeek says that your ticket "will most likely be valid for the new date, although this will depend on the venue's policy." If you cannot make that new date, the company says "you always have the option to re-list [the tickets] on SeatGeek Marketplace once the event is rescheduled so that another fan can attend." This includes NBA, NHL, MLS, and MLB season games, as SeatGeek says they are "treating the games as postponements."
And for some happier news on what's now free amid coronavirus, check out 7 Things That Are Now Free Because of Coronavirus.