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Festivals and events

Australians love their live experiences. From music, food and arts festivals to sports events, expos and conventions. New festivals and events pop up every year with great interest, but what happens when an event is cancelled or dramatically changes?

Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), consumers have rights if a business fails to deliver what they promised. If a festival or event doesn’t go ahead or has major changes, you can seek a refund.

It’s important that consumers know their rights and where to go for help. We have some tips to help you avoid losing money on festival and event tickets, and how to protect yourself:

Do your research

Check the line-up acts, or stall holders’ social media accounts and official websites to confirm their attendance. Call the venue to confirm that the event is taking place and who the authorised seller of tickets is before deciding to purchase.

Find out when tickets officially go on sale. If you see tickets on sale before the official date, be cautious as they could possibly be fake.

Be wary of events that:

  • have no venue announced
  • only provide limited contact details
  • have only tentative dates
  • have unusual payment processes (such as no official ticketing agent, requesting cash only or bank transfers) 
  • have received lots of complaints or bad reviews online.

Read the terms and conditions

When you buy a ticket, you are entering into a contract with the company you bought it from. Your ticket has terms and conditions that explain what your ticket gives you, including refunds and compensation if something goes wrong or changes.

A company cannot waive their responsibilities under the ACL. If you buy a ticket to a festival or event and it is either cancelled, or has a major change (such as a headlining act will not perform, the date changes or the venue changes to a location much further away), you are entitled to a refund of the ticket. This is regardless of whether the terms and conditions say so.

Just like any other purchase, hold on to your receipts and ticket details. If something goes wrong, speak to the company where you bought your ticket first. For more information, check out the ACL guide to Consumer Guarantees.

Buy from authorised sellers and secure websites

It’s safest to buy your tickets online through a reputable authorised seller, with a secure website.

Make sure that ticket sellers who appear first in your online search result are actually the authorised ticket seller and not a reseller who has paid to be at the top of the search list.

Use these helpful online safety tips:

  • 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.
  • If the seller claims to be a registered company, look up their Australian company number (ACN) on the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) website. If they’re a registered business, look up their Australian Business Number (ABN) – visit the ABN lookup website
  • At the checkout page, make sure the URL or web address starts with https: (instead of just http:) and look for a padlock symbol – this means the page is secure.
  • If you choose the option of having your ticket sent by mail, choose to register it so you can track its delivery.
  • Check the tickets for any restrictions- an authorised ticket seller and reseller is required to provide buyers with clear and accurate information.
  • Check closely for any additional charges, such as membership fees, which could be ongoing. Look out for boxes that have been automatically ticked – these could be adding costs to your purchase.

Be savvy if buying resale or second-hand tickets

Tickets purchased from authorised sellers often restrict their resale or transfer. Promoters and venues can also have conditions of entry. 

If you buy from an unauthorised seller or reseller, you risk:

  • being turned away at the venue
  • not getting the seats you’ve selected
  • not being made aware of certain conditions (for example, restricted view)
  • not getting a ticket, or getting a fake one.

Your rights to a refund or exchange may also be affected if the show is postponed or cancelled.

Be wary of websites that ‘appear’ to be authorised ticket sellers. Fake ticketing websites may offer ticket lotteries or competitions, and these scams will often request additional payments or personal information to secure tickets.

Remember, the ACL does not apply to private transactions between two people. If you buy from another person (consumer-to-consumer transaction), you will not be able to seek a refund if something goes wrong.

Purchase your tickets with either a credit card or through a reputable payment service

Pay with a credit card or payment service (such as PayPal) where possible. This will ensure that you have protection if anything goes wrong with the purchase as you may be able to seek a chargeback from your credit card company or the payment service.

Notify your credit card provider immediately if you become aware of an unauthorised transaction on your account. Be aware that debit cards do not have the same level of protection as credit cards against fraudulent use.

What to do if something goes wrong

If you suffer a financial loss (e.g. having to cancel flights or accommodation) because the event is cancelled or there’s a major change in the line-up, etc., contact your ticketing agent first. The ACL says that a business must provide the goods or service it advertised.

If you are having trouble with refunds and you paid with a credit card or payment service (e.g. PayPal) then contact your credit card provider, bank or payment service immediately to seek a chargeback.

You may still have rights under the Australian Consumer Law even if you are unable to resolve a dispute with the ticket seller. For more information you can contact your local Fair Trading or Consumer Affairs agency for help.

Do you know of a pop-up event happening near you?

Australian Consumer Law regulators are monitoring pop-up events around the country to ensure they comply with the law. You can help by reporting future pop-up events that you see being promoted in your area. Follow this link: bit.ly/PopUpEventRegister