Moneybox

Free Ticketmaster Tickets Are Here! But Will You Get to See Anything Good?

Free tickets to see the Boss? Don’t bet on it.

Ander Gillenea/AFP/Getty Images

Discounts and free tickets arrived in the accounts of some 50 million Ticketmaster customers this weekend (myself included), the fruits of a $386 million class-action settlement the ticketing behemoth agreed to last year. The company was accused of falsely labeling various service charges.

Check the “Vouchers” section of your account, and you might find one 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 (only certain) concerts at venues operated by Live Nation, which bought Ticketmaster in 2009

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As I wrote last month, you won’t be seeing any such settlements from Ticketmaster or its peers going forward. The ticket giant’s terms of use now require buyers to agree to take disputes into arbitration, and explicitly bar any complainants from coming together as a class. 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.

The discounts are small and must be used toward future purchases. But since Ticketmaster controls the vast majority of concert and sports ticket sales in the U.S., we have little choice but to continue using their services.

A bigger question is what events will be eligible for free ticket vouchers: Are class members going to be steered toward Kiss cover bands and other sub-marquee events? If we, as a class, don’t use our tiny discount codes (I already forgot to use them this morning when I bought Yankees tickets), we’ll wind up getting more free tickets, because Ticketmaster is obligated to pay out a certain amount each year.

The Live Nation page listing eligible free events hasn’t been updated yet, but I’m betting it won’t include thousands of free tickets to Beyoncé.

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