THE decision, announced last week, to ban major public gatherings of more than 5,000 people in Ireland until at least September has led to the cancellation of many events planned for the summer, particularly concerts.
Many are being rescheduled but others have been cancelled and different organisers are taking different approaches to dealing with ticket-holders.
With thousands of us crossing out dates in our diaries, I asked the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) about rights when it comes to event tickets.
The bad news is that there is no universal set of rules that apply to tickets in the way there are for items like gift vouchers. Instead, contract law applies, so your entitlements are dependent on the terms and conditions set out by the ticket seller at the time of purchase.
For example, I asked the CCPC if, in the event of a concert or other being rescheduled, consumers are entitled to ask for a refund if the new date does not suit them?
“A consumer can always request a refund, however, if an event is cancelled or rescheduled, what a consumer is entitled to is based on what is contained in the terms and conditions on the tickets themselves, or on the website from which they were bought,” a CCPC spokesperson said. “There will be specific terms and conditions around rescheduling or cancellations or both, this usually includes the process in which you will be communicated with and your options in the event of a cancelled or rescheduled event.”
Even if you are entitled to a refund, there may be deductions from the amount you paid and, even more importantly, there may be actions you need to take to ensure you get your money back.
“If you are entitled to a refund you should also check how much of a refund you are entitled to, for example the face value of the ticket only excluding any additional fees you paid, or a full refund including any fees you incurred,” the spokesperson said. “Also check the ticket seller’s website for procedures for handling refunds — for example, see whether:
- Your refund request has to be received within a certain number of days
- You have to return the tickets to the point of purchase in a particular way
- Ticket holders themselves are responsible for finding out about the new date and time if the event is being rescheduled.”
In a huge number of cases tickets will have been purchased through Ticketmaster who appear to be trying hard to provide clarity to ticket-holders in an unprecedented situation. The company says that where events are cancelled, Ticketmaster will automatically process a full refund to the card you used to buy your tickets with if you have purchased online. Tickets bought at box office or an outlet will be refunded on returning your tickets to your point of purchase. This does mean waiting until restrictions ease and box offices and other outlets reopen, but that doesn’t seem unreasonable in exceptional circumstances.
Where events are being rescheduled, consumers are receiving emails informing them of the new date. While Ticketmaster’s Covid-19 page does not clarify what happens in the event ticket holders cannot attend the new date, it is addressed in their general terms and conditions.
“If you notify us within the specified deadline that you are unable to attend the rescheduled event, you will be able to cancel your order and obtain a refund of the Sale Price of your Tickets or Packages (Service Charges and Order Processing Fees are non-refundable),” the T&Cs state. “Failure to notify us within any specified deadline that you are unable to attend the rescheduled event will be deemed to be a reconfirmation of your order for Tickets or Packages for the rescheduled event, and you will not be able to claim a refund.”
So if you know you won’t be able to make the new date for your event, don’t delay in contacting Ticketmaster.
Unfortunately, the situation is far less clear cut where tickets were purchased in other ways. Although many event organisers are conscientiously communicating and offering refunds, I am aware of at least one event that was scheduled for early April where, despite the date passing, there has been little communication with ticket-holders. A message on the Facebook page for the event says there will be no refunds because a new date is to be set, although there is no indication of when the new date will be.
I asked the CCPC, what avenues of redress are open to ticket-holders who are unhappy with the handling of an event cancellation or rescheduling.
“If you think the ticket seller is not acting within the terms and conditions of the contract, we would advise you contact them to try and come to a resolution,” the spokesperson said. “If you’re unhappy with their response you should then submit a written complaint.
“Following this process if your issue is not resolved you may have to take legal action. If your claim is less than €2,000, you can use the Small Claims procedure to try and resolve the issue.”