If you’re thinking about going to a concert, an event or, in fact, anything you need to buy a ticket for, you’d be forgiven for thinking twice before you buy. Even if you had decided you want to go, what will happen if the event is cancelled?
When we at Resolver took a look at our complaints statistics over the six months to September 2021, we found that complaints made to ticket agencies almost tripled in volume compared to the previous six months, and were two-thirds up on those made in April to September last year.
Ticket complaints topped 2,600 between April to September 2021, and meant that complaints to ticket agencies made our top 20 most complained about products and services. Since then, Resolver has still seen more than 1,400 complaints to ticket sellers through our doors.
Can’t make contact
Given the various lockdowns and restrictions imposed in differing levels of severity it’s perhaps reasonable to have seen a rise in the number of complaints made about event tickets during the spring and summer of 2021. Reasons included tickets that had not been received, refusals for refunds when customers felt uncomfortable attending and voucher replacements that didn’t work.
But one stand-out experience for people complaining or making enquiries to their ticket sellers was the sheer inability to get a response to their issue – or even to find a way to contact them directly. More recently during the year, we’ve become aware of some larger ticket agencies closing email inboxes and phone lines, instead directing customers to online portals or chat services.
“I have been unable to find email or contact details to request a refund for an event which has been rescheduled twice. We are unable to make the new date next year.”
One in five of the more than 2,600 complaints we saw between April and September 2021 made reference to difficulties contacting ticket sellers, including:
One complainant was charged £75 by their phone provider despite the ticket agency promising that the waiting time for their call would not be charged. Another reported sending at least 10 emails to try and obtain their refund, with no response.
I used the phone number to call directly, however the number is now out of service. I have emailed, tweeted, messaged on Instagram, and commented on Facebook but have had no response.
Where do you stand with your tickets?
If your event is cancelled
If you’ve had your event cancelled – and you’ve bought your tickets directly from a seller rather than a resale agency – then you are due a refund of the ticket’s face value.
You’ll need to contact the company if this isn’t offered straightaway – which as we’ve highlighted some consumers are finding hard to do. Look on your seller’s website for any avenue of contact and have all your details to hand including booking references, the event date and times and payment method so there is no excuse for them to not track your order down.
It’s likely that you won’t get back any delivery or booking fees applied when you ordered unfortunately – and if you bought from a ticket reseller you will have less protection and will not be guaranteed a refund,
If your event is rescheduled
If you’ve been told that your event has been moved to another date and you can’t go, then you should still be entitled to a refund of the ticket’s face value – but not necessarily delivery or booking fees.
You should be directly contacted by the ticket seller to tell you that the event is rescheduled if you’ve bought from a ‘primary’ or direct seller, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for any alerts or bulletins. This is particularly true if you’ve bought a ticket from a resale agency. Your seller should of course in good faith let you know of the change of date, but this isn’t guaranteed – and nor is your right to a refund if you can’t make the new date.
If your event is still going ahead – but you don’t want to
If you’re uncomfortable going to a big event – or if you’ve tested positive for Covid-19 so are having to follow rules to isolate – then sadly you may not get a refund on your tickets.
This may seem unfair given the current uncertainties but with tickets typically sold on a no cancellation understanding (unless the event organiser or venue cancels of course),and if you make the choice not to go you are not legally entitled to a refund.
You can contact the venue or organiser to explain the situation but it is more likely that you will be directed to the ticket seller as that is who your contract is with. If you do manage to make contact with your ticket seller and you are not getting that refund, try asking for a voucher or credit to your account for a future event.
Other ways to get a refund
If you’re having trouble getting in touch with your ticket seller, check to see if it’s a member of its self-regulatory body the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) which has its own code of practice for how ticket sellers should treat its customers. If you’re getting nowhere, you can use its complaints procedure.
If you’re being refused a refund – or even contact – there may be other ways to claim.
If you’ve paid by credit card and the tickets cost more than £100 then you have the option of using Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act to get your money back from your credit card provider. Section 75 means your credit card provider will be jointly liable for the purchase with the ticket seller. Make sure you have evidence that you have contacted your ticket seller (or have made attempts to).
For tickets costing less than £100 another option is chargeback. Chargeback is not the same legal protection as Section 75 but a number of credit card companies offer this as a means to claim for a refund for lower value purchases. It’s also applicable if you paid by debit card, which Section 75 isn’t. Time limits on when you can claim vary so make sure you do so as soon as you can after your attempts at a refund from your ticket have failed.
Contact is key
This isn’t the easiest time for everyone, and it’s understandable that organisations are incredibly busy with consumer demands given the uncertainties and might not always be in a position to offer refunds as goodwill (if you’re legally entitled though, they must).
However, Resolver firmly believes that effectively shutting off means of contact, directing customers to automated responses, and offering no acknowledgement or communication to enquiries will simply undermine the confidence of customers to use those ticket agencies in the future. It’s quite simple – if a company is prepared to sell tickets to consumers, they should be prepared to offer the service that goes with that, including a route to put things right when they go wrong.
If you want to get started with a complaint, Resolver can help you for free.