Consumer class actions in the US and in Canada have targeted the responses of businesses to COVID-19, particularly those regarding refunds for services or events that have been impacted by COVID-19. While Canadian class action proceedings have been less numerous in this regard than in the US, one can expect the Canadian landscape to reflect that of the US as more class action proceedings commence.
This blog post highlights class actions in the US and Canada that have implicated ticket resellers (i.e., companies operating in the secondary market for event tickets) for the failure to provide refunds for events impacted by COVID-19. These lawsuits raise issues of contractual performance, unjust enrichment, misrepresentation, and breaches of consumer protection laws.
- A proposed class action has been brought to a live entertainment ticket provider in respect of an alleged refusal to refund those who have purchased tickets for concerts, sports games and other events in a timely manner or at all. The Statement of Claim, which was issued on May 5, 2020, alleges, among other things, that Ticketmaster changed its refund policy in mid-March 2020 to provide refunds upon the cancellation of events, as opposed to events being postponed, rescheduled, or cancelled. The claims involve breach of contract, negligence, unjust enrichment, and consumer protection violations (Consumer Protection Act, 2002 and the Competition Act).
- This same ticket provider is also the subject of a class action complaint in the US, alleging breach of contract, conversion, unjust enrichment, false advertising, deceit, and breaches of consumer protection laws for the refusal to refund ticket holders for events that have been postponed or rescheduled. It has initiated a refund program that is intended to apply to both cancelled and postponed shows.
- This same company faces an Illinois class action for refunds for cancelled events among other things.
- A class action complaint was filed in Wisconsin in April against another ticket provider concerning its offer to provide consumers with credit for events cancelled by COVID-19 instead of cash refunds. The complaint raises allegations of breach of contract, conversion, negligent misrepresentation, unfair business practices, false advertising, and breaches of consumer protection laws.
- This second ticket provider is the subject of another class action complaint filed in California for its failure to provide refunds for events that were cancelled due to COVID-19.
- A third ticket provider faces a class action complaint which seeks the reversal of alleged unlawful retroactive changes made to its refund policy and to provide refunds instead of credits for cancelled events.
- And yet a fourth is the subject of a class action proceeding filed in Illinois for the reversal of alleged unlawful retroactive changes made to its refund policy and to provide refunds instead of credits for cancelled events in accordance with its “100% Buyer Guarantee” refund policy.