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20 Dec 2021

Coronavirus and events: can I get my money back if it is cancelled or I choose not to go?

How can you get your money back if an event is cancelled, postponed or you choose not to attend due to the spread of the Omicron variant?

We're being urged to scale back our Christmas plans and prioritise those things that really matter to us, leading many of us to question whether we should attend events we've already paid for.

But, government has said it is not not cancelling events. Leaving the decision to individuals, venues and event organisers.

Here, Which? explains your rights if an event, show or gig you have tickets for is postponed, cancelled or you choose not to attend.

First published 3 March 2020. Last updated 20 December 2021

  • You can keep up to date with our latest advice on the coronavirus outbreak over on our coronavirus advice hub.

The event is cancelled

If you bought your tickets directly from the event organiser or primary ticket retailers, such as See Tickets or Ticketmaster, you will benefit from some consumer protections.

These firms are required by the industry's self-regulatory body, the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), to refund the ticket's face value price when an event is cancelled.

But it's unlikely you'll get the delivery costs or booking fees back.

You may have fewer protections if you purchased tickets from a secondary ticket seller, such as Viagogo or StubHub. Check the terms and conditions on its website as some companies offer guarantees or other protections.

Whichever way you bought your tickets, in the first instance you need to contact the company that sold them to you and request a refund if it doesn't offer one automatically.

The event is postponed

If an event you have tickets for is postponed, hold on to those tickets until a new date is announced. If you're unable to attend the rescheduled date, you can claim a refund of the ticket's face-value price.

But again, it's unlikely you'll get the delivery costs or booking fees back.

Again, you'll have fewer protections if you purchased tickets from a secondary ticket seller, such as Viagogo or StubHub. Check the terms and conditions on its website, as some companies offer guarantees or other protections.

If the you cannot attend the new date, it's may be that the only way to recover some of your money back will be to resell the ticket to someone else who can.

You choose not to attend

If the event goes ahead as planned but you've decided not to go, you're not legally entitled to a refund.

But it is worthwhile asking the event organiser if you can get credit or swap tickets for a later date.

You test positive for Covid-19

If you test positive for Covid-19 you're legally required to self-isolate, or you could face a fine.

Several event organisers, including London theatres, will allow you to exchange your tickets prior to the event through the original ticket seller.

But this isn't guaranteed and you could lose out.

Can you claim back hotel and travel costs?

If you've paid for transport or hotel bookings that you don't need anymore because your event has been cancelled, get in touch with the companies you've booked with. They might be able to refund you or rebook your plans for a later date.

But there are no guarantees.

If your hotel and travel plans are also cancelled due to the outbreak of coronavirus you will also be entitled to a refund of those costs.

If you have appropriate travel insurance you might be able to claim back the entire cost of your trip.

Get money back by other means

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 bought anything worth more than £100 and less than £30,000 using your credit card you have additional protections if something goes wrong. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act makes your credit card company jointly liable for any breach of contract (such as an event cancellation) and you can claim your money back directly from it.
  • 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.
  • More Coronavirus advice from Which?

Experts from across Which? have been compiling the advice you need to stay safe, and make sure you're not left out of pocket.