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Friday, 6 April 2012

Event tickets – your consumer rights

When you buy a ticket for a sporting, music or theatre event, you have certain rights, eg if the event is cancelled. Find out what your rights are, how to buy tickets from trusted sources and who to complain to if things go wrong.

Buying a ticket – your rights

When you buy a ticket for an event like a concert, the ticket seller (ticket agents or the event venue) has to:

  • provide clear pricing information at the location where you buy your ticket – for example with pricing signs at the box office
  • confirm your seating or standing location
  • make sure you receive the tickets before the event – either by post or box office collection
  • tell you what the ticket costs without added charges like booking fees

If the ticket seller doesn’t do any of these things, you usually have the right to a refund. These rights only apply if you buy your ticket from a ticket agent, event venue or other business that sells tickets.

You don’t have these rights if you buy tickets from private sellers, for example friends or sellers on online auctions.

Cancellation rights when you buy tickets

You are entitled to a refund if the event is cancelled by its organisers. This is because they failed to provide what they sold to you.

But if you decide you no longer want to go to the event, you don’t have the right to a refund. This is because you have no cancellation rights once you buy a ticket.

Buying an event ticket

Before you buy a ticket for an event, you should always check:

  • if the price is fair – compare it to prices charged by other ticket companies
  • if you’ll be charged for anything else like a booking fee – check by asking for the face value of the ticket
  • the type of ticket you are buying, eg stalls or ‘restricted view’ (you might not see everything on stage)
  • how you receive your tickets - check if they can be sent via recorded delivery or if you have to collect them

If the tickets are being sent to you, check:

  • there is enough time for them to arrive
  • what the seller’s policy is if they don’t arrive, eg if you’ll get replacement tickets or a refund if it’s too late

Illegal ticketing websites

Find out what an illegal ticketing website can look like

There are illegal scam websites that pretend to guarantee tickets for popular events. These websites will take your money but won’t give you a ticket.

The following things can help you check if a website is genuine or not:

  • the type of tickets sold - they shouldn’t be for events that have sold out or that haven’t officially gone on sale
  • feedback about the website or company - enter its name into a search engine to see if there are comments from buyers
  • contact details for the website - there should be a landline phone number and a full postal address

If the website has no landline or postal address, it will be difficult to contact after you buy. Websites, email addresses, PO box numbers and mobile phone numbers are easy to change and difficult to trace.

If you’ve bought a ticket from an illegal ticketing website

If you think you’ve bought a ticket from a scam website, you should report it to the police. If you paid by credit card and the ticket cost more than £100, you may be able to get your money back (see link below).

If you paid by a Visa or Mastercard debit card, you may be able to ask for a refund under their 'chargeback' scheme. You will need to contact the card company to make a claim.

Making a complaint about a ticket or an event

If you want to make a complaint about a ticket or an event, you need to make sure you contact the right company.

If the information on your ticket is incorrect, complain to the ticket seller. For example if your seats had a restricted view but your tickets didn’t state this.

Contact the event promoter if your complaint is about:

  • the event, for example poor quality sound
  • misleading advertising for the event, for example adverts said the event was open till 2.00 am but it closed at 10.00 pm

The contact details of the event promoter may be on your ticket. If not, ask your ticket seller for their details.

If your complaint isn’t sorted out, you can:

  • contact the Citizens Advice consumer service
  • contact one of the trade associations if your ticket seller is a member

There are two trade associations for ticket sellers: the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) and Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA).

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