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Eventbrite facing legal action over refund policy

Eventbrite has become the latest ticket seller to be hit with a lawsuit over its alleged non-payment of refunds for cancelled or postponed events.

In a consumer class-action complaint filed on 4 June in the US district court for northern California, ticket buyers Sherri Snow, Anthony Piceno and Linda Conner accuse Eventbrite of “deceptive practices relating to its sale of live events tickets and its refusal to provide refunds for live events that have been canceled, rescheduled and/or postponed.”

According to the plaintiffs, by “shift[ing] responsibility” for issuing cash refunds to event organisers, Eventbrite is in violation of section 22507 of California’s Business and Professions Code, which requires that the “ticket price of any event which is canceled [sic], postponed, or rescheduled shall be fully refunded to the purchaser by the ticket seller upon request.”

“After the coronavirus outbreak forced the cancelation or postponement of most large events and public gatherings, Eventbrite has consistently refused to allow for refunds for canceled, postponed and/or rescheduled events, including when events are ‘indefinitely’ postponed,” reads the complaint.

“Instead, Eventbrite has tried to shift responsibility to event organizers, allowing them to refuse refunds for cancellations, postponements and rescheduled events.”

“Eventbrite has consistently refused to allow for refunds … including when events are ‘indefinitely’ postponed”

Secondary ticketing platforms StubHub and SeatGeek are both battling similar class-action suits in the US, with the former also the target of legal action in Canada.

“At best,” the complaint explains, “Eventbrite has urged some organizers to ‘make good’ when events are canceled, postponed and/or rescheduled” between 15 March and 15 May.

This, the plaintiffs say, does not go far enough, because it allows promoters to offer credit or vouchers for future events “no matter when in the future the event might occur or how much or when the credit might apply”.

While many European concert organisers have been empowered to offer ticket vouchers instead of cash refunds, no legislation of the sort exists in California or the wider US.

Among other forms of redress, the trio seek monetary damages, an order that Eventbrite will cease the “unlawful, deceptive, fraudulent and unfair business practices” alleged in the complaint, and legal costs, to be determined at a jury trial.

News of the lawsuit, revealed in the company’s latest filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), comes as Eventbrite records a month-on-month increase in ticket sales for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March.

 


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SeatGeek sued over alleged U-turn on refunds

A US SeatGeek customer has filed a class-action lawsuit that accuses the secondary ticketing site of changing its refund policy mid-way through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The suit, which alleges that SeatGeek rescinded its money-back guarantee amid the widespread cancellation of live events, comes three weeks after similar legal action was initiated against ticket-resale rival StubHub, which is also offering credit instead of cash refunds for cancelled or postponed events.

In a filing in a Manhattan court, William Trader says New York-based SeatGeek – which also has a significant European presence, where it primarily focuses on primary ticketing for arts venues – changed the terms of its ‘buyer guarantee’ from a full refund to “a credit to be used for a future purchase to be determined in SeatGeek’s sole discretion”.

“Defendant has sought to surreptitiously shift its losses onto its innocent customers”

Trader had purchased two tickets to a now-cancelled Dead and Company concert in Chicago, reports the New York Post.

“In the midst of the greatest public health and economic crisis in living memory, defendant has sought to surreptitiously shift its losses onto its innocent customers, furthering the financial hardship endured by people across the country,” says Trader’s lawyer, Nicholas Coulson.

SeatGeek has been contacted for comment.

 


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Ex-Ticketscript chief to lead SeatGeek’s primary biz

SeatGeek has hired Charlie Sefi as managing director, EMEA entertainment, for its SeatGeek Enterprise primary ticketing platform.

Working out of US-based SeatGeek’s London office, Sefi will oversee the sales, implementation and support teams for SeatGeek Enterprises’s UK and European entertainment clients.

Sefi joins SeatGeek from online restaurant reservation start-up Resy, which was recently acquired by American Express. Prior to joining Resy, he was Ticketscript’s managing director in the UK and Ireland, leaving shortly after the company’s 2017 acquisition by Eventbrite, and was also a founding director of last-minute event discovery service YPlan, which was bought by Time Out in late 2016.

“We’re thrilled to have Charlie join us in London to continue the momentum the team has worked so hard to build,” comments James McClure, SeatGeek’s GM, international, who joined the company from Airbnb last summer. “Our team is investing into UK entertainment as there is a lot of room for us to thrive. Charlie’s experience across high-growth SaaS [software-as-a-service], ticketing and consumer start-ups makes him uniquely qualified to take on this position.”

“Our team is investing into UK entertainment as there is a lot of room for us to thrive”

SeatGeek, formerly a secondary ticketing platform, entered the primary market in summer 2016 via a strategic partnership with software company TopTix. Its first primary client was Major League Soccer (MLS), the highest-level football league in the US.

The company later acquired TopTix and its SRO⁴ box-office solution outright, and now counts venues including the Concertgebouw (1,974-cap.) in Amsterdam, the Theatre Royal (847-cap.) in York and several West End theatres, including the English National Opera at London Coliseum (2,359-cap.) – and sporting organisations such as the Dallas Cowboys, Royal Dutch Football Association, Sporting Kansas City, Leicester City FC, Los Angeles FC and Premier League champions Manchester City FC – among its SeatGeek Enterprise clients.

It opened an Italian office just before Christmas 2018.

“This is an exciting time for SeatGeek and the industry and I’m happy to be part of this team,” says Charlie Sefi, commenting on his appointment. “We see an opportunity to improve the ticketing experience in the entertainment space for both consumers and clients. The SeatGeek Enterprise team has grown successfully so quickly with clients that love the product and team.

“I’m happy to be part of the next chapter as we continue to expand the business globally.”

 


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SeatGeek enters Italian market with SeatGeek Italia

New York-based ticket seller SeatGeek has grown its European presence by adding an Italian office to its existing operations in the US, Britain, Israel and the Netherlands.

A new live events-focused company, Ivrea-based SeatGeek Italia, will offer SeatGeek’s “best-in-class user experience” to venues and sports teams, according to the company, including tools for dynamic pricing and customer relationship management (CRM).

“Italy has one of the most vibrant arts scenes in the world, as well as some of the top sports leagues,” says Matteo Tradardi, SeatGeek Italia’s managing director of SeatGeek Italia. “With SeatGeek’s increased focus on the Italian market, we are excited to help more fans attend the live events they love.”

As part of the launch of SeatGeek Italia, SeatGeek has taken full ownership of TopTix Ribes, after acquiring parent company TopTix last year. TopTix Ribes’ client base includes the Franco Parenti Theatre in Milan and Comunale di Vicenza Theatre in Vicenza, and SeatGeek hopes to add more venues, as well as major Italian sports teams, in future.

SeatGeek, formerly a secondary ticketing platform, entered the primary market in summer 2016 via a strategic partnership with software company TopTix. Its first primary client was Major League Soccer (MLS), the highest-level football league in the US.

“By investing more in Italy we’ll be able to help venues across the country attract more fans”

The company later acquired TopTix and its SRO⁴ box-office solution outright, and now counts venues including the Concertgebouw (1,974-cap.) in Amsterdam, the Theatre Royal (847-cap.) in York and several West End theatres, including the English National Opera at London Coliseum (2,359-cap.) – and sporting organisations such as the Dallas Cowboys, Royal Dutch Football Association, Sporting Kansas City, Leicester City FC, Los Angeles FC and, most recently, Manchester City FC – among its primary market (SeatGeek Enterprise) clients.

It hired its first international GM, James McClure, in July.

Commenting on the launch of SeatGeek Italia, SeatGeek CEO and co-founder Jack Groetzinger says: “SeatGeek has the most powerful technology in live entertainment. By investing more in Italy we’ll be able to help venues across the country attract more fans.

“We see the Italian market as a huge growth opportunity, as we continue to see momentum in SeatGeek’s other markets.”

 


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SeatGeek hires Airbnb chief to spearhead int’l expansion

In the past 18 months SeatGeek has transitioned from domestic US brand to international ticketer, securing a number of high profile ticketing clients from across the world. To preside over its continued international growth, the New York-based company has announced the hiring of its first ever international general manager, James McClure.

McClure has previously helped the likes of Google and Airbnb to expand into new markets. Across a number of countries, including the US, the UK, Singapore and Australia, he has overseen sales, planning and resource allocation. With their sights firmly set on operating globally, the company hope McClure will navigate SeatGeek into Europe and beyond.

Beginning as a strictly secondary ticketing platform, SeatGeek changed tactic in 2016 via a partnership with software company TopTix. Through its SeatGeek Enterprise primary ticketing platform it began forging partnerships with numerous sport and entertainment venues.

“SeatGeek has incredible momentum in Europe, and I’m looking forward to accelerating that success.”

After acquiring TopTix outright in April 2017 for $56 million, clients for both companies were merged. Today, SeatGeek can count a number of London’s West End theatres, Oslo Opera House, the Dallas Cowboys and the Royal Dutch Football Association as clients. Most recently, the business struck a primary ticketing deal with Manchester FC, meaning a quarter of the UK’s Premiere League is now served by SeatGeek.

“We’re thrilled to have James joining SeatGeek,” says Jack Groetzinger, CEO and co-founder of SeatGeek. “James has a great deal of experience growing international markets for technology companies.

On his new appointment, James McClure comments: “Our partners and prospects are quickly seeing the best-in-class technology of SeatGeek Enterprise, and we look forward to investing more in the region moving forward.

“SeatGeek has incredible momentum in Europe, and I’m looking forward to accelerating that success.”

 


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SeatGeek expands with Man City, SeatGeek Stadium deals

SeatGeek’s primary ticketing ambitions have taken a major step forward with a new multi-year deal with Manchester City FC, one of the world’s most famous association football clubs.

The partnership, the terms of which were not disclosed, sees New York-based SeatGeek become Manchester City’s official ticketing partner as of the 2018–19 season, with the club using its SeatGeek Enterprise primary ticketing platform to provide its supporters with a “best-in-class buying experience”.

SeatGeek – until mid-2016 a strictly secondary ticketing platform – entered the primary market that summer via a strategic partnership with software company TopTix. Its first primary client was Major League Soccer (MLS), the highest-level football league in the US.

It later acquired TopTix and its SRO⁴ solution outright, and now counts venues including the Concergebouw (1,974-cap.) in Amsterdam, the Theatre Royal (847-cap.) in York and the English National Opera at London Coliseum (2,359-cap.) and sporting organisations the Dallas Cowboys, Royal Dutch Football Association, Sporting Kansas City, Leicester City FC and Los Angeles FC among its SeatGeek Enterprise clients.

“Chicago is an incredible city for live events, and we look forward to welcoming locals and visitors to SeatGeek Stadium”

Manchester City has the fifth-highest revenue in international football, at €527.7 million (US$644.5m) in 2016–17, and won the English premiership in 2012, 2014 and 2018.

A day before the Manchester City deal, the company additionally announced it is to take over naming rights on the 28,000-capacity Toyota Park football stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, which is to be renamed SeatGeek Stadium.

SeatGeek says it will work to bring the stadium – home to football (soccer) teams Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Chicago Red Stars – more live events, including “premier concerts, music festivals and international sporting events”, alongside Bridgeview and venue manager Spectra.

The new name will kick in follow Chicago Fire’s final home match in the 2018 season.

“Chicago is an incredible city for live events, and we look forward to welcoming locals and visitors to SeatGeek Stadium,” says SeatGeek co-founder Russ D’Souza.

 


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More Google resale reactions: “Some distance left to go”

With new global restrictions now live on the use of Google AdWords by secondary ticketing sites, UK anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance has “unequivocally welcomed” the update to Google’s ad policies – but warned there is still room for improvement if the search giant is serious about cracking down on dishonest ticket resellers.

As required by Google’s new ‘event ticket reseller policy’, all major online secondary outlets – including Get Me In! and Seatwave in the UK, Ticketmaster Resale in Australia, SeekGeek, TicketsNow and Vivid Seats in the US and StubHub and Viagogo internationally – have put up notices making clear they are resale sites, and that prices may be above face value.

However, the same wording isn’t included in the ads themselves, meaning a Google search, for example, for “Kendrick Lamar tickets” still brings up scores of resale sites as the top results, with no indication they are not the primary sellers.

In a statement, FanFair identifies this lack of consistency as the “one crucial area” where more needs to be done, saying that while it welcomes Google’s “proactive involvement to bring further transparency to the ticket resale market”, the “largest resale sites still fail to make clear that they are secondary platforms, listing secondhand tickets.

“Given their continued prominence on search pages, the implication remains that these are authorised primary sellers or ‘official sites’. That is simply not the case. Until their ad messaging is amended, we suspect UK ticket buyers will continue to be misled.

“Until ad messaging is amended, we suspect ticket buyers will continue to be misled”

“This is something we look forward to discussing with Google and will urge them to act upon. Unless secondary ticketing sites are forced to ‘be honest’, the full consumer benefits of certification are unlikely to be achieved.”

Elsewhere in the UK industry, Mark Gasson, founder of primary ticket agency Gigantic, urges Google to go on step further in totally excluding secondary sellers from its search results. “While we welcome these changes that help to protect customers from being deceived when searching for tickets online, we would like to see this as the beginning rather than the end in the attempt to safeguard online ticketing,” he tells IQ. “In time, we would want to see all secondary sites excluded from all ticket searches and be restricted to pure secondary tickets searches.

“As it stands, some customers will still not see past the warnings and will end up paying more than they need to for their tickets. This not only misleads customers but also impacts on their potential spend on other concerts.”

“Google’s moves to ban misleading adverts from the secondary sites on its search engines is a welcome move, and a step in the right direction which should stop a lot of people being ripped off,” adds Dan Ealam, director of promoter DHP Family.

“Having seen firsthand the pain these unethical sites can cause consumers through false claims of being official, financial heartache for music fans and sometimes even selling non-existent tickets, we feel there is still some distance left to go, but this is a good starting point from Google.”

 


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SeatGeek ups primary ambitions with TopTix buy

SeatGeek, the New York-based ticket aggregator and resale site, has acquired Israeli ticketing software developer TopTix in a US$56 million deal it says “instantly makes SeatGeek one of the largest primary ticketers in the world”.

The two companies have been partners since August, when SeatGeek announced a move into the primary market, powered by TopTix’s SRO⁴ software. The new primary platform, now dubbed SeatGeek Open, will allow promoters and sports teams to sell tickets via other apps and websites, “in places where fans are spending time and consuming content”, such as ecommerce and social-media sites. “This is a radically different approach from that of industry incumbents, which limit the distribution of tickets,” seats SeatGeek.

The acquisition of TopTix was financed by a new venture funding round led by Glynn Capital. All 500+ TopTix clients, which in the music space include Kappa FuturFestival in Turin, the Concertgebouw venue in Amsterdam and Australia’s Theatre Royal, become clients of SeatGeek, with TopTix operating as a subsidiary.

“Combining these two platforms together allows SeatGeek to deliver the most powerful – and only open – ticketing platform in the industry”

“As anyone who has spent time in the entertainment industry knows, ticketing is a pain point for teams, artists, venues, and their fans,” comments Glynn Capital’s David Glynn. “We believe that SeatGeek, strengthened by TopTix, is providing a better option through an innovative business model and best-in-class technology, and we think that’s the key to turning a massive industry on its head.”

Adds SeatGeek co-founder Jack Groetzinger: “TopTix has by far the best back-end primary ticketing technology in the world, and we humbly believe that at SeatGeek we have created what is easily the best user experience. Combining these two platforms together allows SeatGeek to deliver the most powerful – and only open – ticketing platform in the industry.

We’re thrilled to be working with the team from TopTix to continue to build our open ecosystem that is transforming the way people access live events.”

 


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SeatGeek lands major primary ticket deal

Secondary ticketing platform SeatGeek has followed StubHub into the primary market via a strategic partnership with ticketing software developer TopTix.

SeatGeek, which began life as a ticket aggregator/search engine but recently also launched a ticket marketplace of its own (partially under pressure from StubHub, which in 2014 pulled its inventory from the site), will use TopTix’s SRO4 software to provide the back-end functionality for its new primary platform.

Its first partnership is with Major League Soccer (MLS) – the highest-level football (soccer) league in the US, equivalent to the UK’s Premier League – which will allow for a team’s primary tickets to be sold on any site or mobile application of their choosing using SeatGeek/TopTix’s technology.

“Together with SeatGeek we are going to build the best ticketing experience in the sports industry”

“We were seeking a partner who shared the same vision for an open ecosystem and can support us with back-end software to support our primary ticketing needs,” says SeatGeek co-founder Jack Groetzinger. “We couldn’t be more pleased with TopTix. The team is comprised of [sic] some of the best people in the industry and the SRO4 software is really impressive.”

Commenting on the MLS deal, Kathy Carter, president of Soccer United Marketing (MLS’s commercial arm), says: “Our number-one objective when we set out to find a ticketing partner was to align with a group that would build an incredible fan experience. We selected SeatGeek because we believe that together we are going to build the best ticketing experience in the sports industry.”

US market leader StubHub’s first primary partnership, announced in February, is with basketball team the Philadelphia 76ers.

 


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