Don’t delete that Ticketmaster email! You’re finally getting payback for all those fees.

Don’t Delete That Ticketmaster Email! You’re Finally Getting Payback for All Those Fees.

Don’t Delete That Ticketmaster Email! You’re Finally Getting Payback for All Those Fees.

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
May 18 2016 2:22 PM

Enjoy That Sweet Class-Action Settlement With Ticketmaster. We Won’t See the Likes of It Again. 

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You get a refund, and you get a refund!

Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images

They put the lie in nightlife. Red Bull didn’t really give you wings. And Ticketmaster wasn’t really charging you for “delivery” or “order processing.”

Henry Grabar Henry Grabar

Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox.

This year, Americans who had overpriced fun a decade ago are entitled to small settlements from class-action lawsuits brought against the two companies. Red Bull settlement checks were mailed out earlier this year. (I got one. Thanks, Red Bull!) Instructions for reclaiming Ticketmaster credits are being sent out now.

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So if you get an email from the Schlesinger v. Ticketmaster Settlement Administrator, it’s not spam. You’re one of 50 million people eligible to get yours from the loathed ticket giant. Starting June 18, your Ticketmaster account might sprout one or more of the following:

  • A discount code for each Ticketmaster purchase you made between Oct. 21, 1999, and Feb. 27, 2013 ($2.25 off future purchases)
  • A UPS discount code for each Ticketmaster purchase you had shipped with UPS in that time period (worth $5 off future purchases)
  • A ticket code for each of those purchases, redeemable for two free tickets to concerts at venues operated by Live Nation (which bought Ticketmaster in 2009)—if, that is, class members don’t redeem enough discount codes

Enjoy this run while it lasts, because these settlements may be the last of their kind. American Express, Taco Bell, and AT&T are just a few of the companies that have avoided recent class-action lawsuits because they require their customers—and often their employees—to keep disputes out of court. In 2011, Ticketmaster changed its Terms of Use to require purchasers to settle disputes in arbitration. Now, when you buy a ticket, “you agree to waive any right to a jury trial or to participate in a class action.” 

“As you can imagine,” says Shawn J. Organ, a trial lawyer and expert on class-action lawsuits, “that requirement completely tamps down on any motivation for seeking $5, $6, $7 remedies.” What single ticket-buyer, frustrated by an overheated $8 delivery charge (or five), would have bothered to hire counsel and go it alone against Ticketmaster? With class actions, there’s strength in numbers: The Schlesinger settlement is worth $386 million.

As a 2015 New York Times investigation demonstrated, arbitration is stacked in companies’ favor. Only 65 of Verizon’s 125 million subscribers initiated arbitration between 2010 and 2014. Customers who do take companies into arbitration usually lose. Class-action lawsuits, the Times wrote, were “realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.” (Even class-action lawsuits usually don’t cost as much as they could, because participation rates are low—in 2014, Live Nation expected the Ticketmaster settlement would cost the company just $36 million.)

There is such a thing as class arbitration—the out-of-court equivalent of a class-action lawsuit—in which consumers can consolidate similar complaints.  But that too is prohibited under Ticketmaster’s Terms of Use—and the legality of such an agreement was affirmed by the Supreme Court in December.

Savor those discounts. The next time the company overcharges you, you’ll have to take them on yourself.