Consumer rights and advice group Which? has released a report claiming ticket resale website Viagogo is denying fans refunds on tickets for events that have been cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Viagogo’s refund policy says customers are entitled to a refund if an event has been cancelled, but not if it has been postponed and the ticket is valid for a new date.
Hundreds of events have been cancelled this summer, and despite organisers confirming this, Viagogo is claiming the events are postponed and refusing to issue refunds.
Many events that have been cancelled are also offering the option for ticket holders to transfer tickets to 2021 events, while also offering refunds to fans who do not want to or cannot do this, but Viagogo is refusing to refund any tickets purchased for such events.
One customer named Melissa Taylor purchased two tickets for the cancelled Wireless festival in London through Viagogo at the cost of more than £270. She said: “They’re refusing a refund on the basis that the tickets can be carried over to next year’s festival. But Wireless’s official announcement was that it’s cancelled and carrying tickets over to next year is just one option.”
Which? says Viagogo has changed its refund policy in response to COVID-19 to create a “loophole” that denies refunds to ticket holders who can defer their tickets to another event. That leaves customers like Melissa unable to obtain a refund if they cannot attend the rescheduled event or resell their tickets.
If a customer were to resell the tickets on Viagogo, the platform can take another commission of up to 25 per cent on the sale.
Another fan named Gordon Scott bought a day ticket to Leeds Festival to see Rage Against The Machine headlining. He said: “The event was cancelled by the organisers, but Viagogo claims the festival is rescheduled. The tickets would be useless to me if Rage Against the Machine weren’t playing next year.”
After hours on the phone with both Viagogo and the organisers of Leeds Festival directly, he was offered a refund. “Eventually Viagogo offered me a refund but I don’t think many people have the tenacity to hound them like we did,” he said.
Leeds Festival organisers Festival Republic said to Which?: “We have informed Viagogo that the events are cancelled not rescheduled and that we are also emailing the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to let them know the situation.
“If someone has purchased a valid ticket from a secondary site, it would be accepted for entry, however as no 2020 or 2021 tickets have been sent out yet then it’s a case of buyer beware with regard to the validity of any tickets being sold on secondary sites. We always ask that people only buy from authorised sites in order to protect themselves.’
A Viagogo spokesperson said: “This is an unprecedented time for the live events industry, and we understand that customers might be left disappointed by the fact that thousands of events globally are being rescheduled or cancelled. Tickets for these particular events carry over and are valid for the event in 2021, so as per our terms and conditions the customer is not entitled to a refund in this situation.
“We contact customers to update them on the status of events but they are always welcome to get in touch if they have further queries. Also, the customer always has the option of listing their tickets on the platform if they can no longer attend the new date.”
“If an event is completely cancelled, the customer is entitled to a cash refund or 125% voucher. In the case of refunds, we appreciate our customers’ patience while we process their request.”
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Features Editor, follow him on TwitterRead this next: Get the best of Mixmag direct to your Facebook DMs