How to use a credit card chargeback to get refunded for canceled events

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The emergence of COVID-19 has upended almost every aspect of our lives, from the way we travel and work to the way our kids go to school. Most major events drawing crowds have also been canceled nationwide since March, including professional sports games, high school and college graduations, and yes, concerts and shows.

Ticketmaster and other major event promoters have recently drawn ire due to the cancellations, mostly because they initially refused refunds — even for events that have been indefinitely postponed. In an April 2020 message posted on the company website, however, Ticketmaster President Jared Smith aimed to clear things up.

As of March 1st, over 55,000 events were canceled through the end of 2020, the message reads. Many of those events have been canceled and Ticketmaster is actively issuing refunds. However, thousands of events are still up in the air.

“Of the remaining 14,000 events—which include sports, concerts and Broadway shows—promoters are actively working through rescheduling options, which is an incredibly complex task at present given the diminished line of sight into the future as well as the uncertainty around when large gatherings may resume. As those events either land new dates or are canceled, we will work quickly with the event organizers to authorize refunds on those events as well,” writes Smith.

He also reiterated that Ticketmaster and their clients do not intend to withhold refunds on postponed shows may still be rescheduled.

“In fact, as of today, both Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Live, two of our largest event organizers, have announced they will begin to provide refunds, on a rolling basis, for all events impacted by COVID-19.”

Can you rely on a credit card issuer to get a refund for a canceled event?

As it stands now, you don’t need to rely on a credit card issuer to secure a refund for a truly “canceled” event. Both Ticketmaster and Live Nation are issuing refunds for canceled events automatically and back to the form of payment you used, often within 30 days of the event being canceled.

You may also have the option to request a credit for a future show, and you may be incentivized to do so. For example, Live Nation is currently offering 150% credit to use towards buying future tickets when you opt for a credit instead of a refund for canceled shows. Unfortunately, many consumers are currently out their investment while they wait to see if their show will go on as normal or be canceled or postponed.

If you paid for your tickets with a credit card, however, you do have the option to file a dispute if you’re not satisfied with the purchase. With a chargeback, your credit card issuer (Chase, American Express, etc.) would automatically refund the cost of your tickets to your account while they investigate. If they rule in your favor, then the credit becomes permanent.

However, you may want to hold off on filing a chargeback on your credit card until you know for sure you’re getting the raw end of the deal. Plenty of reports have surfaced of Ticketmaster banning customers who have filed chargebacks, and other ticket sellers could easily follow suit.

Do the same rules apply to postponed events?

As of May 1st, Ticketmaster and Live Nation customers have the option to request a refund for postponed shows once a new date for the event has been announced. They may also have the option to request a credit for a future show or to donate their tickets in some cases. If they don’t want a refund, then their tickets can still be used as usual for the event.

Ticketmaster has also made the suggestion that ticket holders try to resell their tickets for the new dates using the Ticketmaster platform, and they promise to make the process more affordable.

“If refunds are not allowed for your event and you post through Ticketmaster.com, we will waive seller fees for fans that create(d) resale postings from March 17 through June 30,” they write on their website.

Tired of waiting? Consider these tips

One major complaint we’re hearing from ticket holders is the incredibly long wait times people are experiencing while the details of their events are ironed out. If you purchased concert tickets in January for a show that was supposed to take place in August but is now postponed, for example, you could be stuck waiting months to find out if your show might be moved to new dates or canceled altogether. And in the meantime, Ticketmaster, Live Nation or some other event holder has the right to hold onto hundreds — and potentially even thousands — of your hard-earned dollars.

If you’re tired of waiting or you need your money back for bills, these tips might help.

  • Reach out to customer service representatives via social media. Social media can be magic when it comes to having issues resolved with major brands, and that’s especially true if you have a sizable following or the time (and energy) to be persistent. Reach out to the company you’re trying to reach via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (or all of them) to ask for a resolution to your issue and see if you can get some personal help.
  • Call the event organizer and state your case. Major event organizers all have customer support teams, although they are likely overwhelmed with callers right now due to the thousands of cancellations of events that are happening. You can still set aside some time where you can wait on hold and make the call, however. Some event organizers, like Ticketmaster, also have an online chat function you can access when you log into your account, so try that avenue as well.
  • Go ahead and file a chargeback on your credit card. Credit card purchase protection is only for retail purchases, yet you still have options for getting a refund from your credit card. You can file a chargeback on your credit card any time you are unsatisfied with your purchase, and your card issuer will provide a temporary credit to your account while the issue is under investigation. There are many reports on Reddit and elsewhere of card issuers siding with fans in these cases, so it’s worth a shot. Just remember that your credit card issuer may ultimately side with the event promoter and claw the credit back. Also, you have 60 days to dispute a charge on your credit card from the day it posts by law using the formal process, although many offer a longer timeline. If you purchased your concert tickets more than two months ago, this option may not be of any help.