Coronavirus: Will I get a refund on my ticket if events are cancelled?

By Tom Edgington
BBC News

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image copyrightGetty Images
image captionSir Paul McCartney was due to headline Saturday night at Glastonbury this year

The government has advised against mass gatherings in the UK for the foreseeable future - effectively cancelling all large-scale events, such as concerts, sports fixtures and theatre productions.

The 2020 Glastonbury Festival is the latest in a long list of events that have been cancelled because of coronavirus. Professional football in England and Scotland has already been suspended and all horse racing in Great Britain will stop from Wednesday.

Many events around the world, including the Euro 2020 finals, have also been postponed or cancelled.

So, what are your rights if you have a ticket to something that gets called off?

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe Euro 2020 football finals were due to take place in 12 cities around Europe, including London and Glasgow

Am I entitled to a full refund?

Generally, if you bought your ticket for a cancelled event from an official seller, you should be entitled to a refund, often automatically.

However, additional costs, such as postage and booking fees, are unlikely to be reimbursed.

For anyone who purchased a ticket through a ticket-reselling website, refunds will depend on the site's terms and conditions. Some sites, like Viagogo, have already said customers will get a full refund in the event of a cancellation.

If an event is moved and you cannot make the rearranged date, you should be entitled to your money back. For example, European football's governing body, Uefa, says it will refund all Euro 2020 ticket holders who can't make any rearranged dates in 2021.

The football leagues in England and Scotland have not yet announced what will happen about tickets for cancelled matches. Season ticket holders should check their individual club's terms and conditions.

Organisers of the Glastonbury Festival say that anyone that has paid a £50 deposit can roll it over to next year in order to buy a ticket for the 2021 event. Otherwise, people can ask for their £50 to be refunded.

If you are taking part in something, the same refund rules may apply to entry fees if it is cancelled. But you need to check the event organiser's terms and conditions.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

What if I'm having problems getting my refund?

If you have heard nothing about a refund after a couple of weeks, follow it up, says consumer rights journalist Helen Dewdney.

She advises: "Where possible, do everything in writing so you have a record."

If you're not getting anywhere you can approach your credit card company, says Ms Dewdney.

Using 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.

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.

Can I make a donation instead of a refund?

Many events are put on to raise money for good causes. Many art, music and theatre groups are charities and rely heavily on ticket sales for income. They say there could be serious financial implications if they have to refund all tickets.

Some, including the BFI (British Film Institute), have asked ticket holders to consider not asking for a refund so that the money can be used as a charitable donation instead.

What if the event goes ahead but my hotel shuts?

If you are unable to attend an event because facilities such as hotels or travel are unavailable, the situation is not so clear-cut.

"You've got to hope for a goodwill gesture," says Ms Dewdney. "From the organisers' point of view, they'll say the event is still going ahead."

If you've booked a package (with hotel, flight and event entry all included), you may be able to claim under your travel insurance - depending on the small print.

Can I get a refund if an event is not as advertised?

It depends, according to Adam French, from consumer group Which?.

"If you've bought a ticket for a Taylor Swift gig to headline, but she didn't perform, you should get your money back", he says.

"But if it's a festival with multiple acts, that means you have a ticket for the festival and not the individual performer. In that instance, you can't expect a refund."

What if I don't want to go?

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 only possible exception is if you have some form of insurance with your ticket.

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