Ways to get your money back for an event cancelled due to coronavirus [Updated]
Festivals, plays, sporting events and movies have been axed – so what are your refund options?
In an effort to staunch the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has issued a ban on any non-essential outdoor gatherings of 500+ people and indoor gatherings of 100+.
Further to this, on 22 March 2020 it announced that all entertainment venues, restaurants, gyms and places of worship will close.
The result? More and more events have been cancelled or postponed to later dates.
In Australia, art festivals including Bluesfest, Vivid and Dark Mofo have been cancelled, sporting events are being played to empty stadiums and theatre productions such as those at the Opera House have stopped until further notice. Cinemas nation-wide have also been forced to close.
With so many pre-booked events cancelled or postponed, the ACCC has issued a statement on consumers' and businesses' rights for events impacted by COVID-19. In it, the ACCC states that if events are cancelled, it's expected that a refund or a similar remedy, such as credit, should be offered.
However, if the event is cancelled due to government restrictions, the terms of conditions of the ticket should kick in instead. While this means that non-refundable tickets may not be honoured, it's encouraged that businesses treat customers fairly and compassionately.
So, what are your options for getting your money back?
Straight-up refunds for purchases from official outlets
Many events that have been cancelled or postponed are giving patrons a full refund for their money.
If you've purchased tickets, you'll likely be contacted via email or SMS to advise you of your options. Cinemas including Event and Dendy are automatically issuing refunds for booked screenings.
Major ticketing outlet Ticketek has announced that any event cancelled will have the full value refunded to the credit or debit card used for purchase. This includes any ticket insurance premiums and refundable extras. If you didn't pay via card or have an expired card, contact the ticketing site for a refund to your bank account.
Likewise, Ticketmaster is offering refunds for cancelled events for the full value of the ticket and booking fee.
Note that delivery fees are often not included in your refund.
If your event has been cancelled and you haven't been contacted, check your statements in case a refund has already been issued. Otherwise, you can contact the ticket seller directly.
Straight-up refund or credit from resellers
While working through a third-party reseller means a few extra steps, many have taken those few extra steps to ensure that ticket holders of cancelled events will receive refunds.
Viagogo, for instance, assures that if an event has been cancelled, patrons will receive a full refund. It gets a little more grey with postponed events, with the reseller stating that it'll be in touch.
However, this isn't unusual. For Tim Minchin's upcoming Australia tour, all tickets are being held until new dates are confirmed. At this point, your ticket will be valid for that performance, or a full refund will be issued in the case the dates don't work for you anymore.
Competing reseller StubHub has issued a similar statement. Referencing its FanProtect Guarantee, all ticket holders will receive a full refund, including fees, for cancelled events.
Alternately, you can opt for a coupon worth 120% of your purchase order to use on a future booking. This is valid for 12 months.
Resell your ticket
Some smaller events may not be cancelled. Or, they may have been postponed to much later in the year. If you were making a big trip of it and no longer wish to go, you do have options.
The first is to see if the seller is still willing to offer you a refund. They're not obliged to, but circumstances are changing day-by-day and policies are becoming more flexible.
Otherwise, you might want to consider ticket resellers such as Ticketmaster Resale, Viagogo and StubHub. These offer you the chance to sell your ticket off to another willing patron. In light of the pandemic, the demand may be low, and if you sell, you may not get all your money back.
In Tasmania, where Dark Mofo has been cancelled, the accompanying Bon Iver concert has not. Conscious of the fact that many people travel to the event, Dark Mofo is offering a ticket resale facility to allow anyone who purchased tickets to the concert the chance to recoup their money, excluding booking fee.
Event ticket insurance
As events are being cancelled and refunds are given, you may not need to draw on event ticket insurance. In fact, some outlets such as Ticketek are refunding it. However, if your event has not yet been cancelled but you believe your health is at risk, you may want to play this card if you have it.
Event ticket insurance can be used if you're unwell and can't make the event. Or, if circumstances beyond your control occur such as your car breaking down on the way to the event.
During this pandemic, pre-existing conditions that put you at a health risk by being at the event may be considered. Unfortunately, change of mind is not a valid reason for a claim.
Often this insurance includes a 100% reimbursement of your purchase, including booking and delivery fees.
It's an addition to your ticket purchase, but one that can add peace of mind.
Due to the volume of events being cancelled, refunds can take up to a few weeks to be processed. If the venue or ticketing site has contacted you regarding your refund, sit tight and only follow up if you don't receive your refund within their anticipated time period.
If the venue hasn't contacted you, log in to your account to confirm your contact details are correct.
Support the arts
While this doesn't get your money back, it does put it in the hands of venues, companies, productions and artists, all of who will be financially out of pocket due to forced event cancellations.
If you'd like to support the arts by donating the value of your ticket, contact them directly for the best way to do so. For example, the Melbourne Theatre Company is accepting returned tickets for donations; however, they need to be contacted to go down this avenue for bookkeeping purposes.
All donations over $2 are tax-deductible.
This story was updated on 23 March 2020 to include new information from the ACCC guidelines and new government policies.
Get some more money back
Sorry to hear that your event was cancelled, but it might be a good time to sort out some life admin instead. With the changing economic climate, it's a smart idea to find ways to save money where you can.
We can't lie, it probably won't be as fun as your event but at least you get some dollars out of it. Here are some guides to help you save some money on your daily expenses.