Commissioner's Blog: Event advice just the ticket
With Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
If you buy a high-price ticket for a premium event on a yacht with a promise of champagne and caviar, you don’t expect to be served cheap wine and supermarket-bought frozen spring rolls on a fishing boat. This is one of the complaints received by Consumer Protection from ticket-buyers recently, however, headline acts not appearing at beach parties, concerts or festivals and even crying babies disrupting a musical theatre production have also been reported.
We have the right to expect that what is being promoted will be delivered and the Australian Consumer Law provides an avenue for redress if that is not the case. As well as legal protections, there are also ways to protect ourselves. Whether you are buying an electrical item from a store, having a job carried out in your home by a tradesperson or purchasing a ticket for an organised party or show, you should research what you are buying and where from, and think about the best way to pay and what would happen if things went wrong.
First and foremost, know who you are dealing with. If contact is established via social media platforms or online classifieds you should exercise caution. It is not uncommon for a faceless seller, either overseas or here in Australia, to pretend to be someone they are not, offer something they cannot provide and ignore consumer and criminal laws.
Under the Australian Consumer Law products and services must be of acceptable quality and be described accurately. Additionally it is unlawful for a business to make false or misleading representations when offering to supply or promoting goods or services – this includes any claims about standard, quality, value or sponsorship, as well as testimonials.
Let’s look at the type of scenario that should ring alarms bells:
An advertisement for an Australia Day party at a waterfront venue, featuring a popular DJ appears on an Instagram account and Facebook page asking consumers to communicate with the organiser via email and pay by direct bank transfer. If the ‘organiser’ does not to keep their end of the bargain and the social media accounts and email address are deactivated, ticket-buyers could be left out of pocket.
Avoid disappointment by following these tips:
- Do an internet search of an event organiser’s name and any company they claim to represent. There’s an Australian business names register at www.asic.gov.au.
- Check ticket terms and conditions for what happens in the event of cancellation, clauses reserving the right to substitute an artist or to restrict admission and any other disclaimers about things that have been promoted or promised.
- Call the proposed venue to ensure it has been booked for the event and check any DJ or music artist’s social media accounts to see if that upcoming gig is mentioned.
- Use reputable third party ticket services or payment services (e.g. Paypal), which give you access to a dispute resolution service and potential refund.
- Consider paying by credit card, which may increase the cost slightly but provides the opportunity of a chargeback (transaction reversal) if you don’t get what you paid for. Remember chargebacks are NOT available when you pay with cash, eftpos, BPAY, bank transfer or cheque.
If you have bought a ticket and believe you have been misled or you have attended an event to find you did not receive what you paid for, you should lodge a complaint with the supplier as soon as possible. In your correspondence you should explain what is wrong and that you would like a partial or full refund as per your rights under Australian Consumer Law. Should you experience problems, or need help in dealing with a supplier, contact Consumer Protection by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1300 30 40 54.