How to deal with event cancellations

Niamh Condell, Dispute Resolution Advisor with the European Consumer Centre Ireland shares her advice on how to read the Terms and Conditions of pre-purchased tickets with special conditions attached and how to deal with cancellations of events which require travel abroad, especially if they are impacted by restrictions and cancellations of any kind.

What is an event ticket? 

When you buy a ticket to an event, a contract is formed between you and the ticket seller. It is like any other contract and contains detailed information on booking conditions, cancellation policies and liability for refunds. 

Who qualifies as a ticket seller? 

A ticket seller can be anyone who sells a ticket for an event. Customers can buy tickets directly from the event organiser or it can be done through third-party ticket agencies (on- and off-line) selling the tickets (exclusively or not) for the event organiser. Non-exclusive tickets can also be bought through metasearch engine websites, also known as comparison websites, which search other websites for the requested events and present different purchase options to the consumer.

What should we look out for? 

The Terms and Conditions associated with any ticket booking should include information about refunds if the event is cancelled or if there is a significant change (of date or venue, for example) and alters the event attendance or experience to a high degree.

You should receive a written invoice/ payment receipt or booking confirmation upon entering a ticket purchase contract, which should include: the cancellation terms for all possible scenarios, the name and contact details of the seller, and detailed information on the conditions for booked seated events.  This pre-contractual information should be available to you in accordance with the Unfair Contract Terms Directive 93/13/EEC, applicable to all consumer contracts. 

Can I resell my ticket if I can’t attend an event? 

Currently, the Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Act 2021 now prevents offering tickets for resale above their face value in Ireland. However, this may differ across European Union countries. Therefore, it is advisable to check whether the terms and conditions allow for this (some tickets are in the name of the original buyer). Secondly, before you go down the route of reselling, check with the ticket seller if they can buy it back and resell it themselves, or whether they provide a separate platform for reselling tickets.

What can I do if the event was cancelled? 

If an event is cancelled for any reason, it is the ticket seller’s responsibility to resolve the issue or rescheduling the event and/or refund the ticket holders. If the event is rescheduled by the organiser, and the new date does not suit you or you cannot travel to the event on the new date, you may be entitled to a refund. Some ticket sellers may offer you a voucher or a credit note instead of a refund; however, you do not have to accept this offer and can insist on your right to a refund. 

Can I get a refund for my travel arrangements? 

If you have booked transport for the cancelled event, you are usually not covered for any travel or accommodation costs, unless they were part of a package that included the event ticket. Refunds for flights and accommodation costs booked separately are not the responsibility of the event promoter or ticket seller. Your rights to a refund will depend on terms and conditions for each individual travel service booking, if cancellation is allowed at all. If the terms of the contract do not allow for cancellations and refunds, you may be able to claim through your travel insurance if you have a policy in place. 

If you booked a package holiday that consists of an event such as a concert/event/festival ticket and at least one travel service, such as a flight or hotel booking, then you have stronger protections under the Package Holiday and Linked Travel Arrangement Directive EU 2015/2302



Read more on general tickets conditions