Will I get a ticket refund for events cancelled due to coronavirus?
PUBLISHED: 06:30 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:20 08 April 2020
Festivals, concerts, theatre shows and outdoor events across Norfolk have been hit by coronavirus, leaving venues and promoters reeling and ticket-holders seeking refunds.
The government has banned mass gatherings in the UK for the foreseeable future - effectively cancelling all large-scale events.
High profile local casualties include flagship arts festival the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, which attracts more than 85,00 people each year and had been due to take place from May 8 to 24, and gigs by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Will Young and Madness at Thetford Forest in June.
With hundreds of thousands of people affected, where does the law stand on refunds on the cost of tickets?
Am I entitled to a full refund?
If you bought tickets for a cancelled event from an official seller, you should get a refund. Many are reimbursing ticket-holders automatically. However this will probably be for the face value, with extra costs such as postage or booking fees unlikely to be reimbursed. Those who purchased a ticket from other sellers may not get a refund.
A Citizens Advice spokesman said: “If you bought your ticket from a ticket-reselling website, refunds will depend on the site’s terms and conditions. If you bought from a private seller then it is unlikely you will be able to recover your money.”
Some sites, like Viagogo, have already said customers will get a full refund in the event of a cancellation. Viagogo said customers will be contacted and can choose between a full refund or a 125% voucher credit to use on the site. If an event has been postponed, buyers and sellers will be contacted with more information about the next steps.
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Can I make a donation instead of receiving a refund?
Many local venues are charities and rely heavily on ticket sales. Refunds could have serious financial implications so some are asking ticket holders to use the refund as a donation instead. Sheringham Little Theatre has had to postpone its five-play 60th anniversary summer season until 2021.
Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “We have been offering those people who have already booked for cancelled events the chance to have a refund, credits or the chance to make a donation to the theatre – and most have made donations.”
Do I have to accept a credit note?
Some events are offering ticket-holders the option of future credit rather than refunds, but there is no obligation to accept this. The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is offering to add credit to ticket holders’ accounts for future use, though people can also get a full refund or can donate.
Daniel Brine, artistic director and chief executive, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed with the generosity of festival goers. Like everyone, we’ve faced a difficult time over the last few weeks and have been trying to ensure we do our part to support artists and the sector.
“Nearly half of bookers have donated some or all of their ticket purchases to the festival which will mean we, and the artists, communities and arts workers we support, will be in a much more stable position when we come out of this crisis.”
What if I don’t know if an event will be rescheduled?
Understandably many venues and promoters are currently scrambling to rearrange postponed events wherever possible. Norwich Theatre Royal has said they are working “relentlessly” to reschedule shows.
Stephen Crocker, chief executive, said about 85pc of bookers for cancelled performances were usually happy to transfer to new dates, but where it was not possible customers would be offered credit, a refund or the choice to donate part or all of the ticket value. If an event is moved and you cannot make the rearranged date, you should be entitled to your money back.
What if I don’t want to go in future?
If you decide against going to an event that goes ahead on its advertised date once the current ban is lifted because you remain worried about coronavirus, there’s little chance of getting your money back. Ticket holders who change their mind about going have no legal right to a refund. The only possible exception is if you have some form of insurance with your ticket.
MORE: 19 online events running in Norfolk during the coronavirus lockdown
Can I claim the cost of incidental expenses like hotels and train tickets for an event cancelled due to coronavirus?
Unless the ticket you purchased included travel and accommodation as part of a complete package, you cannot generally claim these expenses. You may be able to find a solution separately, with the accommodation or transport provider, though.
Someone has contacted me offering to help me get a refund. Is it a scam?
Possibly, so beware. Citizens Advice said scammers were trying to take advantage of coronavirus cancellations. A spokesman warned: “If your event is cancelled and people or companies offer their services to try to recover money on your behalf, make sure that you’re looking out for the signs of a potential scam.”
For more information go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk and search for “check if something might be a scam”.
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