Commissioner's Blog: Avoid festival trouble, save your dosh for the mosh
With Acting Consumer Protection Commissioner David Hillyard
Summer’s here and that means music festival season. But what happens if a big outdoor event or live concert is cancelled or dramatically changed at the last moment?
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) gives consumers rights if an Australian business fails to deliver what they said they would … that can include calling off a festival or altering the line-up, venue or amenities in a major way.
Know your consumer rights and follow our top tips to avoid your musical festival dreams turning into a nightmare.
Ts&Cs and your rights
When you buy a ticket, you are entering into a contract with terms and conditions that dictate what your purchase entitles you to, including refunds and redress if something goes wrong.
However, a company cannot waive their responsibilities under the ACL. If you buy a ticket to a festival and the event is either cancelled, or has a major change (such as a headlining act will not perform, or the date or location changes) you may be entitled to a refund. Sometimes the terms and conditions might say you are not entitled to a refund when in actual fact you are and the term itself may prove to be unfair or misleading.
Just like any other purchase, hold on to your receipts and purchase details. If something goes wrong, speak to the ticketing agent first. If you can’t resolve the matter come to Consumer Protection.
Buy through secure online websites
When buying your tickets online it’s safest to go through a reputable authorised seller with a secure connection.
- Get advice from family and friends who have bought from the seller, or check online forums, feedback and reviews from previous customers.
- Check that the organiser is a member of Live Performance Australia (LPA). LPA members must follow a code of practice for ticketing.
- Buy tickets from an authorised seller. Most LPA events have conditions that limit your rights if you buy your ticket from an unauthorised re-seller (a ‘ticket scalper’). The organiser may even cancel your tickets.
- If the seller claims to be a registered company, look up their ACN on the Australian Securities & Investments (ASIC) website www.asic.gov.au. If they’re a registered business, look up their ABN – visit the ABN lookup website www.abr.business.gov.au.
- Before clicking to check out be sure the URL or web address starts with https: instead of just http: – s means the page is secure.
- Look closely for any additional charges and keep an eye out for any boxes that have been automatically ticked adding costs to your purchase.
- Be aware that re-selling platforms may charge booking fees that can be huge and in some cases more than the face value of the ticket value. This is not illegal and consumers should always check the fees associated with a transaction.
- If you choose the option of having your ticket sent via mail, have it registered so you can track its delivery.
Buy with credit card or PayPal
Pay with a credit card or use a third party payment service, such as PayPal, where possible. The card provider or payment service usually offer you protection and the option of a transaction reversal if anything goes wrong with the purchase or there is an unauthorised deduction.
Be aware that debit cards do not have the same level of protection.
Contact your ticket agent first
If you suffer a financial loss, such as cancelling flights or accommodation because the event is cancelled then you will need to consider whether you have a claim for consequential loss Contact your festival ticketing agent first. If you are having trouble with refunds and you paid with credit card or third party payment service (also known as an escrow agent) then seek a chargeback immediately.
You may still have rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) even if you are unable to resolve a dispute with the ticket seller. For more information see the Consumer Protection website www.commerce.wa.gov.au/cp.