Post Your Problems / Lawrence Walsh: Ticketmaster refund not too timely

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Lisa Simon purchased tickets from Ticketmaster for the Justin Timberlake show Dec. 14 at the Consol Energy Center.

When she learned she wouldn't be able to attend the show, she sold the tickets for $260 on Dec. 9 through Ticketmaster’s ticket exchange.

“They sold immediately,” said Ms. Simon, 52, a paralegal for a Downtown law firm.

Ticketmaster prides itself on customer service, including full refunds on tickets for participating venues and teams if customers change their minds within 72 hours of purchase. But Ms. Simon encountered an extended delay in getting her money back.

“Through a series of hoop-jumping, you have to verify your bank account and [Ticketmaster] has to verify everything,” she said, adding that all of the "hoop-jumping" was completed by Dec. 17.

Although Ticketmaster told her it transferred the $260 to her bank account on Dec. 18, that didn’t happen.

“[Ticketmaster] told me there are other customers that this has happened to where the funds are stuck between Ticketmaster and the bank. Help! I don’t feel I have any recourse,” she wrote in an email to me.

Ms. Simon asked Ticketmaster if it could mail her a check for $260 or credit the credit card that she used to buy the tickets. “They said they could not,” she said.

“[They said] someone will get back to me when it is resolved. They said they couldn’t promise whether that would be next week or next month. I am getting the runaround and I don’t like it.”

She exchanged emails with Ticketmaster customer service on Dec. 23. They went like this:

“Thank you for your email. This is an automated response confirming receipt. Your message has been forwarded to one of our customer service representatives who will be happy to assist you.”

The automated response then went on to say Ticketmaster “strives to answer” emails within two hours of receipt between its normal business hours of 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern time) Monday through Sunday. It also said she could call a toll-free number for immediate assistance.

Brandon from Ticketmaster Fan Support — which promises to provide “World Class Service — Every Customer, Every Day!” — thanked her via email for “reaching out to us! We’ll email you immediately and you’ll get paid by direct deposit … within 3-5 business days.”

“Good Afternoon Lisa, We apologize for any confusion,” wrote Jesse, another member of the company’s fan support team.

“We show that your account does have a verified account attached and your payment has been processed through Ticketmaster. Now, it should take from 3-5 business days from today for your bank to process the payment. We hope that clears things up.

“If you need anything else, we’re always here for you. Just reply to this email or visit Ticketmaster.com.”

Jesse then provided a link to a customer survey form and asked Ms. Simon to complete it. “How did we do?” it asked. “Please take a few minutes to rate us and provide your own comments or ideas. Fan feedback keeps us focused!”

Ms. Simon replied:

“Are you saying an additional 3 to 5 business days from today? I feel I am getting the runaround. Can’t you just look to see and tell me exactly when I will get my money?”

On Dec. 31, she called Ticketmaster again. She spoke to a customer service rep who said her money was released to her bank on Dec. 18, that someone from Ticketmaster would get back to her within 48 hours and that she should contact her bank.

She visited the bank later that day. A woman at the help desk said the bank had not received the money and had no indication that it was en route.

When Ticketmaster failed to contact her within the 48 hours promised by the customer service rep on Dec. 31, she called and asked to speak to a supervisor. The woman who answered the phone refused to transfer her.

Ms. Simon called Ticketmaster again on Jan 3. She spoke to a rep named Keith who said Ticketmaster had issued “a bug tracker form,” had initiated an investigation and added that someone would get back to her “in a few days, but not on the weekend.”

She then contacted me. I made some calls. The money was deposited into her account on Jan. 7.

Her advice to others who may find themselves in similar circumstances?

“If you have tickets to an event, make sure you can go. I want to say that I will never use Ticketmaster again but, of course, I cannot do that because they have a monopoly on being able to purchase tickets to the majority of events that go on in our city.”

Ticketmaster apologized for the delay.

“Although fans typically receive payment for selling tickets within a week, Ms. Simon’s payment was unfortunately delayed longer than expected,” said company spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson. “[A]s a good will gesture, we are providing her with a [$50] gift card.”

Lawrence Walsh can be reached at pyp@post-gazette.com and 412-263-1488. Please include your day, evening and cell phone numbers. Due to volume, he cannot respond to every email or phone call.


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