In a relatively unheard-of move, Ticketmaster will provide ticket buyers for the Cure’s recently announced US tour with partial refunds, after a controversy on Wednesday over fees that the group’s frontman Robert Smith said had him “sick”.
The refund, which Smith announced Thursday on Twitter, comes a day after Cure’s tickets first went on sale. Fans once again aired complaints to Ticketmaster over high ticket fees, along with technical issues they said prevented them from buying tickets. Some buyers who had purchased tickets for as low as $20 per seat, posted screenshots detailing that the fees were higher than the tickets themselves.
According to Smith, those who bought tickets from the lowest price range will get a $10 refund. Everyone else gets $5.
“After further discussion, Ticketmaster has agreed with us that many of the fees charged were unnecessarily high and as a gesture of goodwill we have offered a refund of $10 per ticket to all verified fan accounts for transactions with the lowest ticket price (‘ltp’),” Smith wrote on Twitter. “And a $5 ticket refund to all verified fan accounts for all other ticket price transactions, for all Cure shows at all venues.”
It’s not immediately clear when, if ever, Ticketmaster has taken such a step before, but that comes in part from how vocal Smith has been about the band’s desire to keep tickets affordable for fans. Prior to the sale, the Cure had taken significant measures to try to ensure that fans only paid face value for their tickets. They refused to use platinum or dynamic pricing to prevent prices from skyrocketing in the primary market, and they made their tickets non-transferable so that scalpers could not easily raise prices in the secondary market.
The Cure’s strategy comes at a time of increased discussion around the ticket marketplace. For years, and since the much-maligned sellout of Taylor Swift’s Eras tour in November, Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment have faced significant criticism from music fans as well as regulators who have questioned whether the company has a monopoly on the live music industry.
The company faces an ongoing DOJ investigation and was heavily questioned during a Senate hearing in January. Live Nation has rejected the monopoly claims. Since February, the company has become more active in pushing for ticketing legislation that it says will empower artists and limit the strategies of scalpers. (Secondary sites themselves have pushed back on the effort, which they claim was indicative of avoiding changes that would take away some of Live Nation’s appeal in the industry.)
In a series of tweets Wednesday following frustration from fans, Smith took aim at scalpers as well as the dynamic pricing strategy, calling the latter a “scam” and noting that artists have a choice to participate in it.
The customer screenshot that went viral detailed both service fees from Ticketmaster as well as a facility fee set by the venue. (In this case, the venue was neither owned nor operated by Live Nation.) These fees combined made the fees higher than the ticket price itself.
“I’m sick, as you all are, of today’s Ticketmaster fee debacle,” Smith wrote in a subsequent tweet. “To be clear: the artist has no way to limit them. I have asked how they are justified. If I get something coherent in the way of an answer, I will let you all know.”
In addition to the refund, Smith wrote that he would let fans know about ticket availability for Friday’s sale once he had more information.