Over the weekend, Ticketmaster gave me 20 free tickets and $22.50 in discount codes. I, like about 50 million other people, had finally gotten my settlement in a 13-year-old lawsuit filed against Ticketmaster and Live Nation for their years of overcharging customers with "excessive and deceptive fees." If you bought a ticket through Ticketmaster/Live Nation between October 21, 1999 and February 27, 2013, chances are you too have some free tickets waiting for you.
Here's what you need to know about the lawsuit and cashing in on some free and discounted tickets.
There was a lawsuit and Ticketmaster lost
Back in 2003, Ticketmaster was sued by Curt Schlessinger in California Superior Court as part of a class action lawsuit over hidden fees it built into its purchasing process: Ticketmaster was charging Order Processing Fees (OPF) that had nothing to do with actually processing orders, essentially making OPFs a scam, the plaintiffs alleged. In 2009, Live Nation bought Ticketmaster, joining the suit. In 2011, both sides reached a settlement that said customers dating back to 1999 were eligible for refunds. Ticketmaster and Live Nation are giving away over $400 million worth of vouchers and discount codes, including one worth $5 for every instance where you selected UPS as the delivery method for your tickets.
Watch out for an email with this subject line: Schlesinger v. Ticketmaster Class Action Settlement – Notice Regarding Discount and Ticket Codes
Check your spam folder and don't delete it! That's your ticket to free tickets. Do not worry, you would not be alone in thinking it suspicious, as this Reddit thread shows.
Where to find your vouchers
Chances are you've changed emails sometime since 1999. But in order to get these vouchers, you need to log into your Ticketmaster account with whatever email address you used to make the purchases. So if you bought tickets to see The Strokes in concert in 2001 using your AOL or Hotmail email, you need that to log in and check your status.
Once you're in Ticketmaster, scroll and click over to "My Account" and then look for a link to "Active Vouchers." Here's a direct link that, again, requires your original login. Warning: the site's been slammed with people checking their accounts.
You won't be able to buy tickets to whatever you want
Know going in that you're probably not scoring Hamilton or Beyoncé tickets.
According to the settlement documents, Live Nation is not going to make this easy. For one, the vouchers and discount codes have an expiration date. It's in 2020, but that is not a very long time to see 10 shows, or more if you received more codes. Why?
The events and venues selected will be within Live Nation's sole discretion and may also include Live Nation clubs such as the House of Blues. Live Nation has the right but not the obligation to make tickets available at venues other than its amphitheaters.
That means Live Nation will choose which events and which venues that it owns will be eligible for discounts.
Live Nation will also cap how many tickets at eligible events can be purchased with discount codes, making them available on a "first-come, first-served basis."
But at the same time, Live Nation might end up giving you more tickets if enough people don't use the codes, according to Billboard.
Class members will also receive ticket codes that have the potential to be redeemed for free concert tickets in about a year if class members don’t use up a certain amount ($10.5 million annually) of the discount codes. If this shortfall occurs, Ticketmaster will release roughly 100 tickets each for a majority of events at Live Nation-owned or operated venues. Each ticket code may be redeemed for two tickets.
Oh, yeah, and here's a big one.
We don't know what events are eligible yet
Despite announcing the settlement in May, Ticketmaster has yet to release the list of eligible events. A site set up for that explicit purpose isn't listing anything yet. So: You might be able to use a ticket code if enough people don't at a Live Nation-owned or -operated venue. Maybe. In the meantime, you can sign up for "periodic" emails as new events are added to the list.
This sort of lawsuit is becoming rarer and rarer
In this, Ticketmaster joins a host of companies, from Verizon and Citibank down to nursing homes, that have taken advantage of—and in some cases, helped achieve—a series of pro-business court rulings that make it virtually impossible to get compensation for corporate malpractice.
This has been standard operating procedure for companies like American Express and Taco Bell for years, making class action lawsuits virtually impossible—it's Ticketmaster and you from here on out. Are you really going to hire and lawyer and go through an arbitration hearing for a $6 processing fee? No, and these companies know that. Verizon saw 65 customers (out of 125 million) go to arbitration between 2010 and 2014.
For more information regarding the settlement filled with legalese, you can consult this FAQ.
David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org