Concerts and match tickets
If you order tickets online for a concert, match, festival or other event, the business must give you confirmation of your order in writing – this can be by email, fax or letter. You must also be given other information, including:
- The business’s identity, and their address if you have to pay for the tickets in advance
- The price, including any booking fees, delivery costs (if the tickets are to be posted to you), taxes or any other charges
- Arrangements for payment and delivery
- Whether there is a right of cancellation
If something goes wrong, the terms and conditions of your contract should tell you how you can have things put right. Remember though that the person who makes the payment has consumer rights in this case. Also bear in mind that some ticket agents insist that consumers prove that they are the person who made the booking – by showing the credit card used to make the booking along with the ticket when you arrive at the event. This is important if you either receive or buy tickets as a gift.
No ‘cooling-off’ period
For many types of product and service ordered online, consumers have the right to cancel the order without having to give a reason during the “cooling-off period”. The cooling-off period is usually at least 14 days from when you receive your goods.
However, there is no cooling-off period for online contracts for concert tickets or tickets for sporting events.
By law, ticket sellers must give consumers clear, honest information about prices, and information about any “extra” charges involved.
The main types of extra fees charged on top of the ticket’s face value include:
- A booking fee for every ticket in your order – this may also be called other names such as a commission, service or administration charges, or processing or handling fees
- A credit card fee – some sites include this in an overall booking fee rather than being listed as a separate charge
- A delivery fee if you choose to have your tickets delivered to you
Check the final cost carefully, including all these charges, before deciding whether to buy the tickets.
Sometimes the only way to buy tickets at face value and avoid these fees is to buy them at the venue itself. This may also involve having to pay in cash if the ticket office charges a fee to use a credit card.
What address to use
For a major event in high demand, ticketing websites often put restrictions on the maximum number of tickets that can be ordered by one person, credit card or household. They say they do this to discourage ticket touts and unfair ticket buying practices.
Their terms and conditions may also reserve the right to cancel orders from a single delivery address – even if the orders are from several customers at the address rather than one individual.
Bear this in mind when deciding what delivery address to use with your order. For example, if a group of you are going from work to a concert or match, it might be advisable to use your individual home addresses rather than the same workplace address.
If you can’t use your ticket
If for some reason you can’t go to the event yourself, you may find that some terms and conditions in this situation can be quite restrictive. This could include non-transferable conditions and not allowing the ticket to be used by anyone other than the name on the ticket.
There are, however, a growing number of online marketplaces where fans can buy and sell their tickets, some of which have partnerships with major ticket agents. Be sure to do your homework in order to ensure that the site is legitimate before you do a deal.
Touts and scams
Tickets can be scarce for events that are in high demand. Understandably, some fans will look for tickets from unauthorised sources, even if it involves paying a lot more than the official price.
Remember, though, that if you buy tickets from a private or secondary ticket seller – whether face to face or online such as in an auction website – you will generally have fewer consumer rights, if any, and you could run into problems, for example:
- If you are buying tickets from a private individual rather than a business, you don’t have rights under consumer law
- As you do not have a contract with the official organisation, they may be entitled to refuse you admission
- If the event is cancelled or postponed you may also have problems getting a refund – e.g. the original buyer of the ticket may have bought it by credit card and the refund will be made to their card
- It can be hard to trace the seller if the tickets you receive were not what you ordered – e.g. you receive tickets for seats with a “restricted view”, but this wasn’t made clear to you when you bought them
- Buying in this way could also leave you open to a ticketing scam, such as forged tickets
- You could find that there is a delay in receiving the tickets you ordered, and shortly before the event you are informed that the tickets you ordered are no longer available, but other tickets at a higher price are available
International ticketing scams also exist where a concert, possibly in another country, is advertised online but no such concert exists.
If the event is cancelled
If the event you’ve booked is cancelled, your contract should tell you how to get a refund. The terms of your contract may be included on your ticket and they should not be unfair on the consumer.
For example, if the event was cancelled, it would be unfair for the business to have terms allowing the business to change a show in whatever way it wanted, or denying or limiting refunds if the event didn’t take place.
Check the terms and conditions to do with refunds and check specifically if you are entitled to just the face value of the ticket, or the value of the ticket and some fees, or the value of the ticket and all fees paid.
Also check the site’s procedures for handling refunds – for example, see whether:
- Your refund request has to be received within a certain number of days of the original date of the cancelled event
- You have to return the tickets to the point of purchase in a particular way, such as “a secure method of post” (e.g. a registered letter)
- Ticket holders themselves are responsible for finding out about the new date and time if the event is being rescheduled
If you have tickets for a concert or match abroad that’s cancelled or postponed, you will probably have booked travel and accommodation which you may not now need.
Generally speaking, your level of protection and your entitlements depend on how your trip was booked. There are two main ways in which foreign travel and accommodation are booked:
- You book with a tour operator by selecting a pre-arranged, inclusive package which includes tickets or entry to an event and either travel or accommodation (of at least 24 hours) or both.
This is a package holiday and there are specific laws which protect you if things go wrong. In this case, the event is a major part of this package and if is cancelled or significantly altered, the operator must give you the option of a full refund, a replacement holiday of equivalent or superior quality (if they can provide this), or a lower grade holiday, with a refund of the difference in price (if they can provide this)
- You book each element of the trip yourself (i.e. you book a flight on an airline website, book accommodation on a separate website and tickets on another).
This is not considered a package under law, and each element of the trip will have its own contract and terms and conditions. In order to cancel each individual element of the trip you will need to refer to the cancellation policy in each contract.