In a relatively unprecedented move, Ticketmaster will provide ticket buyers for the recently announced Cure US tour partial refunds, following a controversy Wednesday over fees that Robert Smith, the group’s frontman, said was “satisfactory.”
The refund, which Smith announced Thursday on Twitter, comes a day after Cure tickets first went on sale. Fans were once again taking issue with Ticketmaster about high ticket fees, along with technical issues that they said prevented them from purchasing tickets. Some buyers who bought tickets as low as $20 per seat posted screenshots detailing that the fees were higher than the tickets themselves.
According to Smith, those who purchased tickets from the lowest price range would receive $10. Everyone else will get $5.
After further conversation, Ticketmaster agreed with us that many of the fees charged were disproportionately high, and as a gesture of good faith offered a refund of $10 per ticket to all verified fan accounts for lowest ticket price (“ltp”) transactions. Twitter. “And a $5 refund to all verified fan accounts for all other ticket price transactions, for all Cure shows in all venues.”
It’s not immediately clear when, if ever, Ticketmaster has made such a move before, but it’s partly a matter of how vocal Smith wants to keep tickets on hand for fans. Prior to the sale, the Cure took significant measures to try and ensure that fans were only paying face value for their tickets. They refused to use platinum or dynamic pricing to prevent prices from skyrocketing in the primary market, and made their tickets non-transferrable so that speculators could not easily raise prices in the secondary market.
Cure’s strategy comes at a time of growing debate about the ticket market. For years, ever since putting Taylor Swift’s much-enviable ERAS tour on sale in November, Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, have faced massive criticism from music fans as well as regulators who have questioned whether the company has a monopoly on the live music business.
The company faces an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice, and was heavily questioned during a Senate hearing in January. Live Nation denied the monopoly claims. Since February, the company has become more active in lobbying for ticketing legislation that it says will empower artists and limit strategies from speculators. (The effort was retracted by the secondary sites themselves, who they claimed were pointing fingers to avoid changes that would remove some of Live Nation’s appeal in the industry.)
In a series of tweets on Wednesday following fan frustration, Smith took aim at brokers as well as the dynamic pricing strategy, calling the latter a “scam” and suggesting that artists have the option to participate in it.
A customer screenshot that went viral shows Ticketmaster’s service fee, as well as a facility fee set by the venue. (In this case, the venue was not owned or operated by Live Nation.) Combined, these fees made the fee higher than the ticket price itself.
“Sick of y’all having a Ticketmaster fee disaster today,” Smith wrote in a subsequent tweet. “To be clear: the artist has no way of limiting them. I have been asking how they are justified. If I get anything coherent by way of the answer, I will let you all know.”
Besides the refund, Smith wrote that he’ll let fans know about ticket availability on sale Friday when he has more information.
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