With strict social gathering and travel restrictions remaining in place to combat the spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) there has been much confusion and concern for those who hold tickets to upcoming events that have been cancelled or postponed.
As restrictions are relaxed, it may be a good time to revisit your options if you have been left out of pocket because an event has been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic. The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recently provided guidelines to assist in these uncertain times.
The ACCC (which oversees the implementation of the Australian Consumer Law) have recently released guidelines that provide options to consumers who have been affected by the cancellation and postponement of events in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions.
In summary, they state:
- If your event is cancelled, it is expected in most circumstances that you will receive a remedy, including a refund, credit note or voucher (it should be noted that many providers are on the forefront with this and are getting in contact with their customers)
- However, if your event is cancelled due to government restrictions, your consumer guarantee rights are impacted
- Customers should check the terms and conditions of purchase that were in place at the time they purchased their ticket, as event providers cannot later change these terms and conditions and have them apply retrospectively – these terms and conditions may entitle ticket holders to a full refund of the ticket price
- Customers may also be protected under common law, contract or state legislation
- Customers should first contact the event provider to request a remedy
- Credit notes or vouchers provided as a remedy should have an expiration date that enables them to be usable
- Businesses are encouraged to “treat consumers fairly”
- If you have paid for an event ticket with a credit card or with a provider such as PayPal, you should contact the bank or provider directly
Generally, the Australian Consumer Law consumer guarantees are the first port of call for an issue involving the provision of services (in this case, an event). These are a set of rules that provide a standard for goods and services that, if breached, would require the consumer of these goods or services to receive a remedy. These remedies may include a refund.
However, as stated above, there is some uncertainty surrounding what sort of “impact” COVID-19 government restrictions have on the consumer guarantees. Therefore, if you have been unsuccessful in seeking a refund for a purchased ticket to a cancelled or postponed event, a complaint to the ACCC is unlikely to provide a quick or desired outcome.
These guidelines do provide a pathway for those who have not been successful in receiving a remedy from the event provider of a cancelled or postponed event.
Rockhampton Lawyers at South Geldard Lawyers, we are able to assist you if COVID-19 restrictions have left you out of pocket and are able to discuss your specific circumstances and if any options mentioned above are available to you.
It is important to seek specific advice regarding your circumstances as this fact sheet provides general information only and does not constitute legal advice.