Your rights at cancelled gigs

Posted by Jessica Searle in Personal Finance on 15 March 2013 - Jessica worked as a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile until 2013

Are those Beliebers losing their Bieber Fever... or getting hot and bothered for all the wrong reasons?

A two hour wait for Justin Bieber to arrive at his sold-out gig in the O2 left many fans distraught and their waiting parents pacing – such a late entrance for a school night! Then a subsequent gig interrupted with the artist collapsing and a subsequent rush to hospital... what are your rights when an artist is late, incapacitated, or a complete no-show?

So JB was late, and you had to leave early, namely to get your train home... Can you get a refund?

Unfortunately, Bieber honoured his part of the deal and turned up and performed. It's not his fault you had to get the last train home. Although that sounds a little harsh, the promoter does not have to issue a refund. That doesn't mean they won't make an exception, so complaining directly to the promoter may be your best bet.

The O2 has released an apology for the late running of the show. It has confirmed that everyone left the venue by 12.10 am, and Transport for London had been contacted to ensure that the last Tubes of the day had been held. The nine Thames Clipper boats owned by the venue had also been waiting to transport revellers across the river. The venue is also referring complaints to the promoter, by the way.

What if a gig is cancelled completely?

This now depends on whether the ticket seller is a member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) as, although not legally enforceable, the trade association has a code of practice drawn up under Office of Fair Trading guidance. STAR-approved companies should not include anything in their terms and conditions which may be deemed unfair. This includes "denying the consumer a right to a refund in all circumstances or allowing the event promoter to make changes to the contracted event without valid reason".

Yet this will generally apply only to the face value of the ticket and not to any booking or postage fees incurred. Travel costs are not covered, which is unfortunate if you had already bought your train fare. It would be best to contact the travel company directly, as with some tickets you may be able to switch your dates of travel at little or no cost.

It's been rescheduled... what can I do?

Your rights are similar to a cancellation. Your tickets will remain valid for the new dates, although if you are unable to make this you are entitled to a full refund. Again, any extra charges or costs incurred will most probably not be refunded. Reclaiming travel costs are not covered. Amended travel tickets are dependent on your travel provider and the type of ticket you have purchased.

A final dilemma – the artist has pulled out last minute and been replaced by someone else... can I get a refund?

This situation is not so clear cut, as it depends upon the type of gig. Organisers have a right to substitute acts. For a gig where a series of acts are performing, such as the X Factor tour where specific acts are not guaranteed. But if you had contracted to see an artist specifically, then the scope for a substitute act is limited. It is therefore most probable that where the advertised act does not appear a refund should be given, but it ultimately depends upon how artist abandonment is covered within the terms and conditions of the ticket sale itself.

It may also be worth noting that under section 75 of the 1974 Consumer Credit Act 1974, where goods or services aren't delivered or are faulty, you may be able to make a claim against your credit card company, which is jointly liable with the supplier for failure to supply. The good or services in question must exceed the amount of £100, and not exceed £30,000, although for the usual price of tickets the minimum is an amount easily exceeded.

It is always advisable to contact the ticket provider in the first instance, but this less known route may also be an alternative.

So in summary, although causing a little outrage with his shenanigans this week, as Bieber did ultimately perform (in one way or another) concert-goers are seemingly out of luck regarding refunds.

Result – Pop Divas 1-Fans 0

Jessica Searle is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile and has a degree in English Literature from the University of Exeter. You can contact her at

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