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How to get your money back when tickets you’ve ordered aren’t delivered

Richard Bayston

Richard Bayston
Oct 28, 2016

Ordering tickets online is a joy - when it works.

But it can leave you watching the days roll past until your event, wondering if your tickets are going to arrive on time.

Sometimes they’re too late. And sometimes they don’t show up at all.

What can you do about it?


Before the event:

When it’s still a few days before your event and your tickets haven’t shown up, contact the company by phone.

Call them at least two days before your event; remember first class mail takes a day.

If you don’t want to download and print off tickets or use digital tickets, leave time for hard copies to arrive.

Before you call, try to find another ticket vendor that could still sell you tickets on time.

For example, if your event is local you could buy tickets at the venue.

It’s partly about your peace of mind, but it’s partly about leverage.

Having a backup ready will make you more confident on the phone.

Tell your ticket vendor you’ll have to get your tickets elsewhere if they’re not with you in time for your event.

The bottom line is this: when you buy something, whoever you buy it from and whatever it is, you create a contract that imposes obligations on both sides. You have to pay in a reasonable way and a timely manner; and they have to deliver the goods.

The ticket vendor has a legal responsibility to provide you with your tickets before your event.

The law says that your tickets are the vendor’s responsibility, from the moment you buy them until the moment they’re in your hand.

Customer service reps may be sincere when they say that lost or late-delivered tickets are ‘nothing to do with us’ because the delivery company is responsible, but they’re still wrong.

If they can’t deliver tickets on time, you’re entitled to cancel your order with them and charge them for replacement tickets.

The law says these have to be the same type or the next cheapest: you can’t cancel your back-row tickets, get front-row seats and bill the ticket company.

But you can cancel your back-row seats and demand that the company pay for new, more expensive seats if they are the cheapest ones that are still available.

Most ticket businesses want repeat customers.

They have complaints and refund procedures; some will offer to locate your tickets or provide alternatives ‘at their sole discretion,’ and make it sound as if this is an extra service

But you have a legal right to get your tickets on time or have them refunded, don’t forget this.

The company might offer you replacement tickets, but you don’t have to accept them.

To claim a refund, you don’t have to adhere to any of their internal procedures. Ahead of time, they might agree to a refund over the phone.

If they don’t, or if you call them and you feel like you’re being fobbed off, make your own arrangements.

Then write to them with copies - never originals! - of your replacement tickets enclosed, and tell them you’d like a refund.


Flame silhouette


After the event:

If you ordered tickets and they didn’t turn up on time, you’re entitled to a refund.

The ticket vendor is liable for the cost of the tickets, because they’re in breach of contract.

They’re also liable for the cost of anything else associated with your event that you missed out on because you didn’t have your tickets. That means transport to the event, hotel rooms - anything you paid for in advance. That’s one more good reason to pay for things in advance!

To claim, write to the company.

Send them everything they’d reasonably need to refund you; that means copies of tickets for the event, and for your transport and accommodation. Be clear about what you want, and make your request simple and clear.

The ticket seller is also liable for any extra costs associated with your event - such as train tickets


What If the ticket company refuses a refund?

You can contact the ticket seller’s professional association. For most ticket sellers, this is the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR).

They have procedures that can be used to push your ticket seller into doing the right thing.

In many cases, the reason for the delay or refusal is that your request for a refund has gone to someone who isn’t really competent to decide.

Take your case to a professional association and you’ve got their attention.

A consumer champion can have the same effect. A Spokesman Said can publicise your case, and make the company sit up and pay attention.

That can rescue your case from the mail room, and get you to the top of the right person’s to-do list. Knowing all eyes are on them can make the company more likely to fulfil their obligations.

The final option is to take the ticket company to the small claims court.

This is always a last resort because it costs money, though not much, and it’s time-consuming. If your court case goes against you, you could left holding the bill for the other side’s expenses.

But if you ordered tickets and they didn’t arrive on time, you do have the law on your side and you’re likely to win.


Did you buy your tickets on a credit card?

If you bought your tricks on a credit card, you may be able to get your money back from the card company.

Credit card purchases over £100 are protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 2006.

That says your credit card company is jointly liable with your ticket vendor. Ask your credit card company for the money back, and let them sort it out with the ticket company.

Before making your claim, make sure you have all the key information to hand, such as reference numbers, receipts, bank statements and emails, for example, so that your credit card provider can get on the case immediately.


Did you buy your tickets on a debit card?

You might be able to use the chargeback scheme for smaller credit card or debit card purchases.

Chargeback applies if the goods are damaged, not as described or haven’t been delivered; it involves asking your card provider to chase the money for you from the ticket seller’s bank. 

There’s not guarantee your bank will be able to recoup the money.

When pursuing this option, make it very clear to your card provider you wish to use ‘chargeback’, which was brought in as part of the Scheme Rules which all banks sign up to. 

There's more tips on how to get your money back when you've been scammed online in our guide.


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