Ticketing fees: what is allowed? 

There is no standard way to calculate a service charge for particular tickets, but all compulsory fees, whether fixed or variable, must be clearly disclosed at the outset when the ticket price is first displayed. 

There are typically two types of extra fees charged by ticket sellers on top of a ticket's face value:

  • a booking fee or service charge for every ticket in your order
  • a postage charge for each complete order

Tickets from primary sellers

If the event you have booked is cancelled, rescheduled or has changed location, you are entitled to a refund of at least the face value of the ticket. 

If the face value has been reduced by the organiser, the refund will be for the discounted face value price paid.

If an event is rescheduled to another date, your tickets should be valid. If you can't make the rescheduled date, then you're entitled to a full refund.

The ticket seller is responsible for giving you a refund for tickets to a cancelled event.

It is a condition of membership of the industry's self-regulatory body, the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), that ticket sellers refund the ticket's face value price when an event is cancelled.

But, it's unlikely you'll be able to claim back any additional expenses such as travel or hotel accommodation in the event of a cancellation.

Secondary ticket marketplaces

You have fewer rights if you purchase tickets from a secondary ticket seller, like Viagogo.

But, there are certain scenarios where you're entitled to claim a refund if you purchased from an unauthorised secondary site, and there are steps you can take to get that refund.

There have been several reported issues with people buying tickets from secondary sellers, including:

  • not receiving tickets
  • the ticket received was invalid or not the ticket the buyer thought they purchased
  • buyers felt misled, thinking they were buying from a primary vendor, or by the costs and service fees
  • buyers felt they were not provided with full upfront terms and conditions of the ticket, or relevant details about restrictions – including resale restrictions.

Know your secondary ticket buying rights

The Consumer Rights Act has a whole chapter on ticket reselling and says you must be told:

  • the particular seat or standing area your ticket is for, including the block of seats and row number
  • any restrictions on using the ticket
  • the face value of the ticket

1 Complain to the ticketing website

In the first instance you need to contact the website that sold you the tickets and ask to cancel the tickets and request a refund.

Once your complaint has been recorded, you should regularly log into your user account and check for a notice of cancellation of tickets and a notice of a refund.

If you’re not offered a refund, you don’t have to accept this situation. Instead, write to them again: restate your claim, and the reasons for your complaint.

Keep records of all your correspondence, take screenshots and gather any other evidence in support of your refund claim.

Late or incorrect tickets

If the ticket seller fails to deliver your tickets in time, or sends the wrong tickets, you can do the following:

Formally reject the tickets  Return the tickets with a letter saying that you're rejecting them as they don't fit the description you were given at the time of purchase,

Claim the difference  Go to the event with the tickets you have and then claim the difference in the cost of tickets you asked for and those you received. For example, if you bought tickets for the front row and ended up sitting near the back.

Claim compensation  You may be able to claim some compensation for loss of enjoyment. But, if you plan to do this, you must tell your ticket seller in advance. 

Otherwise the seller may reject your claim saying that you have 'accepted' the tickets. Say that you only used the tickets because you have a duty by law to keep your losses to a minimum. This is often referred to as mitigating your loss.

2 Contact your bank or credit card company

If your claim is ignored or refused by the ticketing company you should contact your bank or credit card company (if you paid using a credit card). Make them aware of your experience and the complaint you’ve made.

If you paid by credit card  If you’ve spent more than £100 and less than £30,000 you can claim on your credit card if something goes wrong. 

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, your credit card company is jointly liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation.

If you paid by debit card  You can ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your credit or debit card in a process called chargeback.

Unlike Section 75, chargeback isn’t a right or law and offers no guarantees, but it is a way your bank may be able to help you.

Chargeback is also particularly useful where the cost of the tickets was under £100 and Section 75 doesn't apply.

Either process allows you to get your money back, if you believe the goods you purchased are damaged, different from those described or didn’t arrive.

You will need to support your claim with correspondence and evidence so your bank or card provider can see you’ve already taken reasonable steps to resolve the issue yourself.

If you are unsatisfied with your bank or credit card provider, or your claim is unsuccessful, you can ask the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to investigate your case.

3 Small claims court

You also have the option of taking your case to a small claims court.

It’s worth checking your household insurance to see whether your policy includes free legal advice, or finding a solicitor who offers a free initial consultation.

Before taking this step we advise that you take a look at our advice on writing a letter before action.

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