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Everything you need to know about those free tickets on Ticketmaster (UPDATED)

This weekend, Ticketmaster doled out millions of free tickets and discount vouchers as part of a class-action settlement dating back to 1999.
This weekend, Ticketmaster doled out millions of free tickets and discount vouchers as part of a class-action settlement dating back to 1999.

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UPDATE: Ticketmaster has released the list of concerts for which customers can use vouchers that were issued as part of the class-action lawsuit against the ticket company. The concerts are all at facilities run by Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster. There are no Live Nation venues in Los Angeles County. Eligible concerts at Irvine Meadows include: Rascal Flatts (July 9); Duran Duran (July 30); and Snoop Dogg with Wiz Khalifa (Aug. 25). 

ORIGINAL STORY: This past weekend was a kind of Christmas morning for Ticketmaster users.

The ticket-selling behemoth distributed millions of free and discounted ticket vouchers to its customers as part of a multi-million class-action settlement. But the settlement comes with a few strings attached.

For one, the site specifies that the ticket vouchers will only be usable for "eligible events." This means it is up to Ticketmaster and Live Nation to decide which shows will accept the vouchers. It's still to early to tell whether beneficiaries of the settlement will have issues getting tickets to shows they want to see. 

Henry Grabar is a staff writer at Slate’s Moneybox site, and he joined us on the Frame to talk about the long, drawn-out history of these coupons, the hoops you'll have to jump through to use them, and why it might actually be a good thing for people to forget about them.

Interview Highlights

On the origin of these Ticketmaster coupons:

These vouchers are the result of a giant class-action settlement that Ticketmaster agreed to last year, and it's actually been in court since 2003, which is why some people will find that they have 18 free concert tickets in their account. This covers a period from 1999 to 2013, so even if you bought tickets 15 years ago, you could be getting compensation.

Ticketmaster had said that they were charging fees for delivery and order processing, but in reality those fees were just going towards the company's profits. The result of the suit, basically, is that Ticketmaster doesn't mislabel those fees as "order processing." They still charge the fees, but now they just take the money and add it to the bottom line.

On the various coupons and discounts people can get:

There are a few discount codes which give a very small amount — two dollars, five dollars — off a future purchase. And then you have these ticket codes, which give you free concerts to venues at Live Nation, which bought Ticketmaster in 2009.

Those are the big thing that's been made available in this settlement, but we don't know what the free ticket codes will be good for yet. In fact, they could become an even bigger part of the settlement. Ticketmaster is obligated to pay out a certain amount of money each year, so if we don't use the discount codes, we could be getting even more ticket codes.

On Ticketmaster's efforts to prevent any future class-action lawsuits:

Ticketmaster has changed their Terms and Services such that you waive your right to participate in a class-action lawsuit like this. So moving forward, all of our grievances will be turned into individual complaints. And if you've been overcharged five dollars on a ticket purchase, you're not going to hire a lawyer and sue Ticketmaster over five dollars.

That's the purpose of a class-action lawsuit — we're able to come together over these millions and millions of tiny charges, but that's not a right we have any more. So enjoy those discount codes while they last!

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