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Can I Get A Refund If A Concert/Event Is cancelled?

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

What do I do if my favourite band cancels their concert due to Coronavirus fears?
Image courtesy of Old Dominion Instagram page
What do I do if my favourite band cancels their concert due to Coronavirus fears?

** UPDATE ** 12/03/2020 - 8pm - The C2C Country Festival has this evening postponed the events being held this weekend. Very late notice, but citing the unknown effects of the Coronavirus as the cause.

The very late notice (posted at 7pm on the 12th March, when the event was due to start on 13th March, has caused many attendees to voice their disapproval of the short notice, as many people have already travelled to the 3 cities hosting the event this weekend (Dublin, Glasgow & London), and so have already spent money on travel and hotels, and others who were advised later than the 24 hours notice, many hotels offered free cancellation, of the postponement, are now in a position where they are being charged for hotel rooms that they no longer need, with some posting on the C2C Facebook page, that they are many hundreds of pounds out of pocket, which could have been avoided with more timely notice of the postponement, with others fuming that they have travelled from all over the world to attend, for no reason.

One attendee stated that they found out about the postponement while literally boarding the plane to fly to Glasgow and another stating they flew in from Canada this morning, into Dublin, to find out just 4 hours later, (Dublin was postponed at lunchtime, due to new containment regulations introduced by the Irish authorities, effectively banning events with groups of 500 or more people from taking place), that the event was cancelled, and was far from amused!

The good news is that most ticket selling sites will offer replacement tickets for a postponed event, or will refund you for the tickets, should you decide that you no longer wish to attend, or can’t make a new date. It’s a beacon of hope for the attendees who bought the tickets from a bonafide seller, but not great news for anyone who may have bought the ticket from another attendee/ auction site or social networking site, as often the original buyer will be refunded the money, or sent the replacement tickets, meaning that the new holder of the tickets will have tickets that they can’t use, and can’t get a refund for, and the original buyer may receive a full refund, for tickets they have sold, or new tickets for the replacement date of the event....

All in all, it’s a big old mess, with potentially millions of pounds of losses and additional costs being absorbed by the organisers and attendees, some of which couldn’t be helped, but some avoidable with better planning and communications...


A disappointing start to the week for me, as I find out that four bands have pulled out of the C2C Country Festival I'm heading to this weekend, due to concerns over the Coronavirus.. Disappointed, but I guess not really surprised, with the amount of bad news coming out over the last week, and with Italy effectively quarantining 60 million people, I think that a great deal of people have become a little more concerned, than perhaps they were a week ago.

So I wondered, where do I, and the thousands of other festival attendees, stand in regards to refunds? Are the festival organisers going to give me a refund if I decide that actually I no longer wish to go to the festival over my favourite bands cancellation, or for fears of possibly picking up the virus from one of the other attendees, after all many people fly in from all over Europe to attend this festival, as it's such a big event?

It's a good question and one many people are asking right now, not just for this festival, but also in regards to all the UK's other concerts, festivals and sports events. At the moment, the government has not cancelled any public gatherings, including these type of events, and as it happens, it looks like this is the clincher...

If the government decide that they need to start looking at ways to minimise the public from being together in large groups, and therefore increasing the chances of the virus spreading, then it would make sense that ordering the cancellation of these events would make a lot of sense, after all the C2C festival in 2019, had 70,000 visitors from all over the world and that's a lot of people sitting together and mingling and potentially taking the virus home with them to then spread around the family and friends etc. If the government make this decision, then the organisers have no choice but to cancel the event, and this is where things get simpler in regards to a refund.

If ordered to cancel, the organisers then have the ability to make a claim with their event insurers to cover the cost of the refunds, that legally the attendees are entitled to. If the organisers decide to cancel the event, of their own choice, perhaps because some of the big name artists drop out of the show, then they have no legal grounds to make a claim with their insurers, and would have to foot the refund bill themselves, possibly resulting in the organisers in a position where they have sufficient funds to do this, or having to make a hard choice as to whether to look at taking legal action against the cancelled bands, for breach of contract perhaps... all in all it's a bit of a mess!

But what if I'm unhappy that my favourite band has cancelled and so I want a refund? The rules here are pretty simple. I'm going to a festival with multiple acts and this means I have a ticket for the festival, and not the individual performer and so in this instance, I can't expect a refund. If however I had booked a ticket, to a show that was just my favourite band performing, and the band cancelled, then I'm in a position where I can request a refund for the face value of my ticket.

If I had purchased my ticket from an official ticket agent, then I would go back to them and request the refund, and most likely the agent would automatically be refunding me anyway, once the event was cancelled, however it's worth noting that you are only entitled to a refund of the face value of the ticket, and are unlikely to receive a refund for the administration charge/booking fee made by the seller, nor the cost of any postage paid to mail the tickets to you.

Ok, so what If i decide that I don't want to attend the festival over fears of potentially picking up the virus? This has a pretty simple answer... no refund... If you decide against going to a music event or sports match because you're worried about coronavirus, there's little chance of getting your money back, the organisers are not required to refund you, nor the seller of the ticket.. unless you have taken out an insurance policy when you purchased the ticket, as many sellers do now offer extra insurance, which allows for refunds for you having to cancel your ticket due to specific situations, and a worldwide health scare, may well be covered. If you don't have such insurance, then sadly you are going to have to resort to using the auction sites, or social networking, to see if anyone is willing to buy your ticket from you.

The other potential costly issue, is going to be for people who have booked hotels or transport for the festival. It's going to depend on the booking site you have used to pay for these services, as to if you are likely to receive a refund. Many hotels have a strict no cancellation policy, unless you have paid extra for a room with a cancellation option. In this case you would most likely receive a refund, if not, you are going to be in a position where you are going to have to rely on the hotels good nature to allow you to cancel your booking, however in the case of C2C, all the local hotels are fully booked months in advance for this event, and so the chances of a full hotel offering goodwill free cancellation to 90% of it's customers for a weekend, is extremely unlikely sadly.

Depending on how you paid for your tickets/travel/hotel, you may be able to make a claim with your card issuer. If you paid via a credit card to buy something costing between £100 and £30,000 means you are legally entitled to a refund if you do not get what you were promised. It's much more sketchy in this type of scenario though, speak to your card issuer as you may find you have some kind of extra protection already on your account, especially if your card is issued by a large banking institution, as often they include extra insurance as part of your cards benefits package.

Even if the ticket is worth less than £100, or a debit card was used instead, there is still the chance of getting a refund under the chargeback scheme. This is used to reverse the transaction.

So the nitty gritty here is that if I decide to cancel going to the event, even if my favourite band is no longer attending, then it's up to me. I'm not going to get a refund, I'm going to have to try and sell my ticket, or attend anyway and enjoy the event anyway. If the event gets cancelled, then I'm going to have a refund heading my way, which I can put towards doing something else this coming weekend..


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