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Ultra Music Festival sued over no-refund policy

Ultra Enterprises, the company behind Miami’s Ultra Music Festival (UMF) and Ultra music events globally, has been hit with a lawsuit over its alleged refusal to offer cash refunds to those with tickets for the cancelled UMF 2020.

The 2020 festival, scheduled for 20–22 March in Miami, Florida, was called off in early March, becoming one of the first casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic that went on to claim almost the entire festival summer.

The proposed class action, filed in the US district court for southern Florida, accuses Ultra of conversion and unjust enrichment. Plaintiffs Samuel Hernandez and Richard Montoure claim the company’s insistence that they must hold onto their tickets and transfer them to UMF 2021 or ’22 is based on “impermissible ticket contract terms”, according to Law360; Ultra’s terms and conditions say it reserves the right to issue a full or partial refund, or no cash refund at all.

This, argue Hernandez and Montoure’s lawyers, means UMF – by reserving the right to keep money paid for tickets regardless of whether it puts on the show – is “essentially (and impermissibly) rendering its obligations under the [T&Cs] illusory, and the agreement itself an unenforceable unilateral option contract.”

“We do not believe Ultra Music Festival has the right to shift the burden of this extraordinary crisis onto its customers”

Hernandez sought refunds on four of six tickets he bought, for a total of US$3,000, while Montoure wanted a refund of two three-day passes he purchased for about $1,000.

“We understand that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every part of the global economy but we do not believe that gives the Ultra Music Festival the right to shift the burden of this extraordinary crisis onto its customers, who, in some cases, paid hundreds of dollars to attend this festival,” Joe Sauder of Sauder Schelkopf – which is also suing South by Southwest on behalf of out-of-pocket ticketholders – tells Rolling Stone, “and now the Covid-19 pandemic has or will preclude them from ever using any credit.

“We look forward to seeking to recover cash refunds for our clients and the class members.”

In addition to Ultra and South by Southwest, several ticketing companies are also facing legal action over their refusal to offer cash refunds for cancelled shows, with SeatGeek and StubHub the target of one and two legal actions, respectively.

 


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Portugal to ban festivals until 30 September

Under the Portguese cabinet’s stabilisation plan, festivals and shows “of a similar nature” will not be permitted until October 2020 and organisers will not be obliged to offer fans a cash refund for cancelled events.

The plan, which needs approval from the Portuguese parliament before becoming law, offers some clarity to promoters in the country, many of whom were awaiting an official declaration before deciding the fate of their 2020 events.

Festivals including NOS Alive, Paredes de Coura, Meo Sudoeste, Super Bock Super Rock and EDP Vilar de Mouros have acknowledged the government’s decision and state they are waiting for parliament to approve the measures before announcing how they will proceed.

Organisers of NOS Primavera Sound Porto, which had moved to early September in an attempt to avoid virus-related restrictions, made a similar announcement, adding that: “It seemed like a good idea, when we decided to celebrate Primavera in summer, we did it because we believed that in September we would be living in safer times.

“This new scenario does not allow us to celebrate what we wanted most. We continue to work hard so that, in 2021, we can celebrate more than NOS Primavera Sound.”

A number of organisers, including those of Rock in Rio Lisbon and North Music Festival, have already pulled their 2020 events, rescheduling for next year.

“When we decided to celebrate Primavera in summer, we did it because we believed that in September we would be living in safer times”

Under the government guidelines, organisers of festivals and other events scheduled for between 28 February and 30 September 2020 which were unable to take place due to the Covid-19 outbreak, can offer ticketholders a voucher of equal price to the original ticket.

This “guarantees the rights of the consumers”, reads the government document.

However, organisers of Afro Nation, which was due to host its second outing from 1 to 3 July, received criticism from some fans on social media upon announcing that they will not be issuing refunds for Afro Nation 2020.

“According to the new Portuguese law, your ticket will be automatically transferred to the new date,” reads a statement from organisers.

“Should you wish not to transfer to 2021, you will have the opportunity to sell your ticket via our primary ticket provider Festicket. Afro Nation will delay putting any tickets on sale in order to give ticket holders as much time as possible to resell tickets if that is what you choose to do.

“Your provider will be in touch today via email with further details on how to transfer to 2021 and how to resell your ticket via Festicket.”

Voucher schemes, which are designed to keep cash-strapped event organisers afloat during the coronavirus crisis, are in place in countries including Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland and Brazil.

 


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Ridiculous lawsuit of the week: TM sued over Hamilton ticket fiasco

Hit musical Hamilton has put audiences into a frenzy around the world. However, no musical lover has been left quite so frenzied as Texas lawyer Joshua Davis, who is suing Ticketmaster for damages after being refused a refund for his mistakenly purchased Hamilton tickets.

Davis says he intended to buy three tickets for 14 or 15 March to see the musical, which is based on the life of American founding father Alexander Hamilton. The tickets were a present for his eldest daughter’s 12th birthday on 9 March.

Yet, the tickets purchased were dated 17 January. The lawyer claims that the date changed after he clicked the “back” button on his browser. Noticing the change, Davis believed to have terminated the purchase, but his card was charged US$2,325.50 for three tickets on the incorrect date.

Davis contacted the ticketing giant immediately after the mistake, waiting on hold for a “prolonged” period of time before speaking to a resolution specialist. TM refused to exchange the tickets for others on the intended date, or to issue a refund. The solution offered was resale through the Ticketmaster website, with an additional administrative fee.

“Ticketmaster’s position within the marketplace constitutes a monopoly on the lawful sale of tickets”

The company instructed Davis he was not to sell the mistakenly purchased tickets for any less than the price he paid for them, “artificially inflating ticket prices and impairing plaintiff’s ability to mitigate his damages and sell his tickets.”

Davis is now suing the ticketing corporation for fraudulent inducement and breach of contract. A court document obtained by Above the Law sets out the case:

“Not only did Ticketmaster’s website fail to respond to Davis’s attempt to cancel the charge, but Ticketmaster failed to refund the most basic of internet browsing errors literally minutes after the mistake is identified.”

“Furthermore, Ticketmaster’s position within the marketplace constitutes a monopoly on the lawful sale of tickets, specifically Hamilton tickets, giving Ticketmaster an unlawful position as a monopolist that can abuse consumers.”

The company has 50 days to respond to Davis’s claims.

 


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Video: High tides scupper Kaiser Chiefs show

The second day of a beachfront music festival in the UK came to an early end after high tides flooded the arena.

Radio station and festival organiser Wave 105 called off Kaiser Chiefs’ headline show at Night Air at the Piers in Bournemouth on Saturday night (19 August) after “exceptional wind and sea conditions” led to seawater encroaching on the crowd area, as seen in Anthony Carrier’s audience video below, and damaging the stage.

A statement from Wave 105 said the decision to cancel “was taken in the interest of public safety, and the organisers are grateful for the corporation and understanding of all involved”.

“Unfortunately a combination of exceptional wind and sea conditions that could not be fully anticipated have resulted in the cancellation of tonight’s final part of the show,” the station said on Saturday. “This was caused by direct southerly/south-westerly winds and short period strong waves which added to the forecast high spring tide. This created high levels of water on the beach that had been unprecedented in all the years of staging the event.”

In a video message, Kaiser Chiefs lead singer Ricky Wilson apologised for the cancellation but said “the stage was in danger, and they [organisers] didn’t want it falling on you or for us to be on it when it fell”.

https://twitter.com/KaiserChiefs/status/766748379447713796

 


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