Just when it looked like things were getting back to normal, with concerts, theatres, and other events being enjoyed by thousands, Omicron hit.
The Covid variant is sweeping across the country at the moment leaving most people trying to dodge coronavirus before Christmas.
Events are being cancelled left, right and and centre – and many are reluctant to go to things they had booked, even if they are going ahead, including concerts and theatre shows.
Meanwhile, anyone who has bought tickets over the two years is likely to recognise the phenomenon of a rearranged date, and sometimes dates for gigs and shows postponed more than once.
However, it is not always clear whether customers can expect to get a refund, a gift certificate or nothing at all if they cannot go or decide they will no longer risk going to one of these performances.
Many customers are wondering if they can get a refund for their event tickets if they cancel
Meanwhile, some performances are being cancelled by the organisers due to cast and crew being exposed to coronavirus.
With ticket prices now regularly running to upwards of £50 or £100, those with bookings can stand to lose substantial sums – or end up with hundreds of pounds in sunk costs for events that keep stretching into the future.
Customers due at these events are therefore questioning whether they can expect their money back if a show is moved to a time or date they can no longer make in the New Year.
While many want to continue to support artists, promoters and venues and try to hold onto tickets if they can, there are times when they may need to try to get money back.
This is Money spoke to industry experts and ticket merchants to answer these questions – and find out what a customer’s right to a refund is.
Can you get a refund if the organiser cancels?
If you bought your ticket from an official seller you can get a refund if the organiser cancels, moves or reschedules the event, according to Citizens Advice, which says the organiser will tell you how to get a refund.
If a show is cancelled, you will likely only get the face value of the ticket back.
Some sellers might refund postage if, for example, the event is cancelled before the tickets are sent. If you had to pay any booking or card fees, you might not get those back.
You also will not usually get any travel or accommodation costs back unless they were part of a package which included the ticket.
You might be able to resell your ticket but check the terms and conditions on the ticket seller’s website you use to see what they say about reselling tickets.
If the ticket seller won’t give you a refund, check if they’re a member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR). If they are, you can use STAR’s complaints procedure.
STAR members should refund face value if the event is cancelled and the organiser has agreed to refunds.
If you can’t get your money back that way, check if you can get your money back from your card company.
However, you are unlikely to get a refund if you bought your ticket from a reselling or secondary ticketing website, a private seller or a fan-to-fan website such as Stub Hub.
Adam French, Which? Consumer Rights Expert, said: ‘If the venue cancels and you bought your tickets directly from the event organiser or primary ticket retailers, you’ll benefit from some consumer protections and should be able to claim a refund for the ticket’s face-value price.
‘However, you’ll have fewer protections if you purchased tickets from a secondary ticket seller, such as Viagogo or StubHub, and will need to check the seller’s terms and conditions to see what you’re entitled to.’
This is Money also asked several ticket merchants to ask about their policies.
A Ticketmaster spokesperson said: ‘If an event is cancelled, we always automatically refund fans. For shows that are rescheduled to a new date, fans can either hold on to their tickets or ask for a refund.’
Cris Miller, Vice President of Business Development at Viagogo, added: ‘It’s unfortunate that we’ve seen event postponements jump 93 per cent in December so far.
‘We are, however, confident of a swift bounce back once the uncertainty and concern surrounding the new variant have passed, similar to what we saw when restrictions were lifted earlier this year.
‘If an event is sadly cancelled, our platform offers a full refund or gift voucher valued at 125 per cent of the original purchase price, and all tickets sold on our platform come with the Viagogo guarantee. We also offer a safe and secure option for anyone wanting to resell tickets to events they no longer want to or can attend.’
Other people may have to cancel events if the date is re-organised to another time in the future
How to sell to other fans
Many music fans will avoid reselling sites, where profiteering through inflated prices and touting were rife for years, however, the market has changed somewhat, with Viagogo and Stubhub still running – with prices often far higher than face value – but Seatwave and GetMeIn closed down.
The big ticket agencies now have their own closer to face value resale sites, where prices can be capped, for example, at 10 per cent above what fans paid.
If you decide to resell, consider the fact you and the buyer are likely to have to pay a fee of around 10 to 15 per cent on most reselling sites and you might not get your money until after the event has happened.
Often fans will still try to avoid such sites and resell tickets to other fans for face value plus any booking and postage fees they paid.
Fan websites and forums, Facebook and Twitter pages of artists and fans, or other social media channels can we a good way to find other fans who may want to buy tickets.
This will have to be done on trust, so be careful when it comes to sending and recieving money and tickets – and you may prefer to meet up in person to hand over tickets and see money transferred into a bank account in real time, or have cash handed over.
Fan reselling site Twickets only allows tickets to be sold on at face value plus fees.
Can you get your money back if you cancel?
Many will be wanting a refund if they change their mind about going due to the coronavirus, however, legally you will not be entitled to get your money back.
After the two years that venues, promoters, theatres and the hospitality industry have suffered, many are not in a position to afford to be overly generous on refunds.
French added: ‘Events haven’t been cancelled by the government so if an event goes ahead as planned but you’ve decided not to go, you’re unlikely to be legally entitled to a refund.
‘But it’s still worthwhile asking the organiser if you can get credit or swap tickets for a later date.’
Whilst some companies offer insurance at an extra cost to customers, it is worth reading carefully what this will cover, for example, to see if it covers those who need to cancel if they have to self isolate.
Many venues were forced to close during previous restrictions, costing them lots of money
Can you get a refund if you cannot make the re-arranged date?
Whilst some performances are being cancelled altogether, many are being rescheduled to another time.
For many, this will be better than an event being scrapped completely but for others, the new time could be inconvenient and they may be unable to make it.
If so, customers should be able to claim a refund from the organisers.
French said: ‘If an event you have tickets for is postponed, you should hold on to your tickets until a new date is announced.
‘If you’re unable to attend the rescheduled date and bought your ticket from the event organiser or a primary retailer, you should be able to claim a refund for the ticket’s face-value price.
‘If you bought your ticket from a secondary seller, you will need to check the terms and conditions.
‘If you cannot attend the new date, it may be that the only way to recover some of your money back will be to resell the ticket to someone else who can but check that the ticket terms allow you to do this.’
What if you have to isolate?
Many people are currently catching coronavirus or being told to isolate if they have been in close contact with someone who has it.
Therefore, they will not be able to attend events. If this is the case, you may be able to get a refund – however, some might not be so lucky.
French said: ‘If you test positive for Covid-19, you’re legally required to self-isolate, or you could face a fine. Some event organisers will allow you to exchange your tickets prior to the event through the original ticket seller – but this isn’t always guaranteed and you could lose out.’
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