A New York legislator has called for a probe into Ticketmaster’s alleged refund policy change, while Germany and Luxembourg extend their mass gathering bans to deeper in the summer. Here’s news from across the industry relating to the impact of COVID-19…

Ticketmaster

A New York legislator has called for an investigation into the alleged “abusive” ticketing practices taking place amid the COVID-19 shutdown of live events.

An original probe was launched in early March and requested documents and policies from 20 vendors, including the New York Yankees, Live Nation and StubHub, among others.

Senator James Skoufis, who chairs the New York state Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee, said the investigation has become more urgent due to the mass cancellations and postponements of events due to COVID-19.

“While many of us have been sewing masks for friends and family, donating blood, delivering groceries to the elderly, and caring for others, some in the live event ticket industry have been silently altering policies to avoid repaying consumers,” Skoufis said in a release.

“Deceptively changing the language of refund policies and excluding postponed or rescheduled events are forms of corporate robbery; withholding billions of dollars that many now need to survive this pandemic is the antithesis of corporate social responsibility.”

Skoufis has now requested that the Attorney General launches a criminal inquiry into ticketing practices after Ticketmaster allegedly changed its reimbursement policy amidst the string of COVID-19 postponements and cancellations. The site had previously offered refunds if an event was postponed, rescheduled or cancelled; now, reimbursements are only available if an event is cancelled

Last week, a Ticketmaster spokesperson told TheTicketingBusiness that its purchase policy has not changed.

European mass gathering bans

Germany has banned major events until August 31 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including concerts, music festivals and sporting events “with spectators.”

The announcement has already led to the cancellation of Wacken Open Air Festival, which was due to take place from July 30 to August 1, as well as Rock am Ring festival, which was scheduled for June 5 to 7.

Similarly, Luxembourg has extended its ban on mass gatherings to July 31, which has led to the cancellation of music festivals including Siren’s Call, scheduled for June 27, Echterlive July 17-19 and the Summer in the City series, among others.

The announcement has also forced the cancellation of the country’s national day, Grand Duke’s official birthday on June 23.

Other European countries have also extended their bans on mass gatherings as Belgium pushed it back to August 31, France until mid-July, Austria until June 30 and Denmark until August 31.

‘Non-paying’ insurers

UK trade association Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) claims its member businesses are being denied COVID-19-related insurance claims.

The association has identified a number of insurers it claims are “acting unfairly” and has gathered support from the sector to fight the disputed claims.

Michael Kill, chief executive of NTIA, said: “The current climate is no time for businesses to profit. These are unprecedented times, and a new normal is forming.

“At some point this crisis will end and those businesses that have shown a lack of support and integrity will be compromised by the industries that were forgotten. Whilst the crisis may be short lived, the memories of how people conduct their business will resonate into the future.

“While we appreciate there are some clear cases where insurance claims within the Night Time Business sector are not legitimate, there are a considerable number of businesses who are being denied valid insurance claims, being disputed by certain insurers in the hope that the current financial situation will deter them from challenging the claim.”

NTIA is working with NDML Insurance Broker, which is funding a “substantial” legal review of insurer wordings.

It said the insurance companies denying claims include New India and Eaton Gate, who have all been contacted for comment by TheTicketingBusiness.

NFU Mutual was also named. An NFU Mutual spokesperson told TheTicketingBusiness: “In line with UK market practice, our standard Business Interruption cover usually requires damage to property, such as storms or fires, in order to be triggered, which means the majority of customers will not be covered for Coronavirus.

“The lack of cover for pandemics like COVID-19 is not a UK phenomenon nor is it restricted to NFU Mutual. No insurance market can afford to underwrite the scale of losses a pandemic can bring, and policies reflect that reality.”