Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Florida is facing a class action lawsuit after denying refunds when the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in March.
Ticket-holders claim in the suit, which was filed yesterday (Tuesday) at the US District Court’s Southern District of Florida, that Ultra’s refund policy is “unjust and inequitable,” Rolling Stone reports.
The lawsuit is seeking damages and monetary relief and/or a full refund on tickets, which were priced at up to $500 each.
Following the rescheduling of the three-day annual event, which was due to take place on March 20-22, Ultra emailed ticket-holders to inform them that their passes would be valid for either its 2021 or 2022 events.
Ultra has labelled the rescheduling to next year as a postponement, although the lawsuit argues it is effectively a cancellation.
Fans were given 30 days to choose the year they would like to attend. The lawsuit alleges the festival extended the decision deadline several times as ticket-buyers were reluctant to confirm plans.
Ultra, which welcomes more than 70,000 punters each year, also offered a ‘benefits’ package for 2020 ticket holders, but made no reference to the option of refunds.
According to the refund policy in its terms and conditions, Ultra reserves the right to issue a full or partial refund or not issue one at all, and further specifies that if an event is cancelled for reasons out of Ultra’s control, such as government action, the company can, at its own discretion “issue purchaser full or partial refund,” postpone the event for a future date and/or offer a comparable “make good” gesture.
However, the suit claims the provision is an “unenforceable unilateral option contract”.
Ticket-holder Samuel Hernandez, who has been named as one of two plaintiffs in the suit, purchased six tickets for $3,000. According to the filing, Hernandez requested a refund and was directed to the email instructions before claiming the deferral benefit on two of his tickets, but not on the other four.
The other plaintiff Richard Montoure also inquired about a cash refund, though neither plaintiff received a reimbursement.
Joe Sauder of Sauder Schelkopf LLC, which is representing the plaintiffs in the case, told Rolling Stone: “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 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.”