Ticketmaster Tries To Evade California Law By Calling "Gift Card" A "Discount Card"

See this gift card, the one that says “GIFT CARD” in big letters? Ticketmaster insists it’s really a “Discount Card,” and thus, not covered by the California law preventing gift cards from expiring.

Reader Robert isn’t happy that Ticketmaster is violating California law, and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau:

Complaint Description
They refuse to honor my giftcard because it “expired.” Under California law, gift cards do not have expiration dates.

Complaint Summary
I have a $50 gift card (Code: 8002-5000-5641-0868) that TicketsNow says is “expired.” Under California law, gift cards do not expire.

Resolution Sought
I want to be issued a working $50 gift certificate. In addition, so others do not have the same problem, I want their billing system to recognize all “expired” gift certificates as valid, at least in California.

Ticketmaster quickly responded with nine sentences, eight of which are utter fluff.

We are in receipt of your recent complaint submitted to the Better Business Bureau. Ticketmaster regrets any inconvenience you may have experienced in connection with your recent online ticketing experience, and thanks you for bringing your concerns to our attention. As a service oriented company, the satisfaction of our customers is always our utmost concern. Please be aware that your valued feedback will be provided to the proper group responsible for the concern you described, and will be instrumental in helping us improve the products & services that we offer. . As you may recall, you are requesting that we honor a $50.00 Ticketmaster gift card with the CODE: 8002-5000-5641-0868 that you have in your possession. This is a Discount Code not a Gift Card and it did have an expiration date of December 31, 2005. Please be assured; Ticketmaster complies with all relevant ticketing laws, including those of your state. We closely monitor ticketing law and take care to ensure we do not violate them. We trust that this explanation will fully resolve the matter. Sincerely, Pam Shafer Consumer Support Specialist

Robert responded:

Hi Pam Shafer. You must be mistaken. Please consult the picture of my gift card under dispute that I have uploaded to the the internet for your convenience. Notice that it clearly says “$50 Gift Card.” I have reason to believe you are circumventing California law. I have reason to believe you are lying to me and telling me the $50 I have is not really $50 dollars. Thank you for your time. With regards to my time, I would like to be issued a check now for $50 because of the hassles I have had to put up with. I am also inclined to post my story to the website The Consumerist.

Ticketmaster offered a final salvo:

As stated previously, you are requesting that we honor a $50.00 Ticketnow gift card with the CODE: 8002-5000-5641-0868 that you have in your possession. This is a Discount Code not a Gift Card and it did have an expiration date of December 31, 2005. You have also spoken with a Ticketsnow representative and he stated that you understood that this was a promotion code that cannot be validated as it has expired. Please be assured; Ticketmaster complies with all relevant ticketing laws, including those of your state. We closely monitor ticketing law and take care to ensure we do not violate them. We trust that this explanation will fully resolve the matter. Sincerely, Pam Shafer Consumer Support Specialist


California Civil Code Section 1749 is clear: “It is unlawful for any person or entity to sell a gift certificate (“As used in this title, “gift certificate” includes gift cards”) to a purchaser that contains any of the following: (1) An expiration date.”

But don’t worry, because Ticketmaster complies with all relevant ticketing laws, including those of your state or whatever.

So does this mean someone can stab Ticketmaster’s general counsel and get off scot-free because “involuntary insertion of a retributive object” somehow isn’t the same thing same as stabbing?

Complaint ID: 98404063 [Los Angeles Better Business Bureau]