The corona situation raises many questions and concerns among consumers. The FCCA is closely monitoring the situation and is now answering to the current questions about events and services received by Consumer Advisory Services.
Follow the instructions of the ticket agent and event organiser. If the matter is not urgent, you should wait in peace. Many matters can be resolved afterwards.
See also the answers on travel and public transport
Coronavirus and consumer rights
Concert and theatre cancelled. Can I get my ticket back on the tickets?
The starting point is that if the event is cancelled, the ticket price must be refunded. A contractual condition that limits the right to a refund may be considered unreasonable. Alternatively, you can discuss with the event organizer how to use the ticket in other ways later. If tickets have been purchased through a ticket agent, you normally do not have the right to receive a refund on the shipping and service fees charged for them even if the event is cancelled.
What is a reasonable timeframe for receiving a ticket refund if the event is cancelled?
This matter is not regulated by law, but the event organiser or ticket agent must seek to return the ticket price to you as quickly as possible. In the current exceptional circumstances, this may take several weeks, so it is worth being patient in waiting for the refund.
Who is responsible for returning the money: the event organiser or the ticket agent?
If the money has been transferred to the event organiser, the ticket agent is not responsible for returning the money. You should familiarise yourself with the event organiser's and ticket agent's instructions on who to claim the money back from.
Instead of returning the money, the event organiser is offering a gift card – do I have to accept it?
If you are offered a gift card, you can consider accepting it. The gift certificate should be valued at the same price as the event or concert ticket you have purchased and should be valid for a sufficient period of time. However, you always have the right to receive a cash refund of the ticket price – you cannot be expected to accept a gift card instead.
I have, previously, accepted a voucher in place of a refund. The voucher will expire soon and I have not been able to make use of it yet. What are my rights?
You can negotiate an extension to the validity of the voucher if you have not been able to use it due to the extended coronavirus pandemic.
By what point should I return the ticket to the party that sold it once the event has been cancelled or postponed?
There is no clear deadline for this set in law. The return period must be long enough to allow you to consider the options offered.
If you have not returned the ticket within the time limit set by the event organiser or ticket agent, this will not automatically result in you no longer being able to claim compensation. The consumer is always entitled to make a complaint within a reasonable timeframe about problems with the service offered. A reasonable period of time has generally been considered to be at least two months.
The festival was postponed to next year. Do I have to accept a new festival ticket even if I don't want to?
No, you don’t. You have the right to choose whether to receive a refund or use the ticket at a later date.
I have purchased a season ticket for sports events, but all events are currently suspended. Can this year's season ticket be transferred to the next season or next year?
If the service you have purchased cannot be implemented as agreed, you have the right to receive compensation due to service error. For example, this could be in the form of a price reduction. With your consent, it is also possible to agree on extending or transferring the validity of the season ticket for later use.
I have tickets to a cultural event in another region. Can I get my money back if I am unable to attend because of planned movement restrictions?
This is a new situation for which there are no ready-made solutions. If you are unable to attend an event due to movement restrictions, you can seek to negotiate a refund with the event organizer. Since this is a case of force majeure, the financial risk cannot be left to you alone. For example, the company may offer you a gift card with a value equivalent to the ticket price, or alternatively they may return to you the ticket price you have already paid.
What if I cannot use a service I have purchased because of planned movement restrictions?
This is a new situation for which there are no ready-made solutions. Movement restrictions may prevent you from making use of the service you have booked and perhaps already paid for. Since this is a case of force majeure, the financial risk cannot be left to you alone. Invoicing for the service or, for example, claiming compensation for cancellation of an appointment may be unreasonable in such a situation.
If movement restrictions come into force, contact your service provider as soon as possible. You can seek to negotiate with the company for either a refund or postponement of the service time.
The same applies to the use of a purchased gift card – you can negotiate to extend the validity of the gift card if there is a danger that it will remain unused because of movement restrictions.
My gym was closed for a month, but I have paid my membership dues for a whole year. Can I get an extra membership month at no cost?
If the service is not available, you are entitled to a refund or to refrain from paying the price of the service. This also applies when the venue has to be closed due to official orders. A contractual term limiting your right to a refund may be considered unreasonable. Whether the condition is reasonable is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
You can negotiate with your gym company for a free extension of your membership or a price reduction equivalent to the interruption. If you find that the refund offered is inadequate, you can complain to the service provider.
I am a member of a sports club that has been suspended due to the coronavirus situation. Can I get a refund for seasonal fees?
Issues relating to membership of a club or other association fall outside the scope of the Consumer Protection Act. This should be clarified within the club.
The slope season ended earlier than announced. How will the season card that I bought from a ski resort be refunded?
For example, you can negotiate with the ski resort on the postponement of the unused portion of your season card. However, if you choose so, you are also entitled to receive a cash refund for the unused portion if you find an alternative arrangement to be unsuitable for you. The amount of the refund will always be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with the assessment being affected, for example, by the information provided in the season card’s marketing.
I have booked a party venue and/or catering service for a party, but the party was cancelled due to the corona situation. Can I get my money back?
You should familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions of the agreements with the person or organisation renting out the party venue and with the catering service provider, as your ability to claim a refund depends on the conditions for changing and cancelling reservations. It is also worth discussing the different options with the service provider.
The terms of the agreement, however, may not be unreasonable and, if necessary, they can be adjusted if the terms would lead to an unreasonable situation for the consumer. The assessment on what is reasonable regarding booking conditions may be influenced by whether the booking was made during or before the coronavirus pandemic. If the booking was made with awareness of the pandemic, a similar condition for a refund may not be in place as in cases where the booking was made before the beginning of the pandemic.
Do I have to pay for an interrupted Adult Education Centre course in full? I received an invoice for the entire course, but only one session was held due to the pandemic.
Adult Education Centre courses do not fall within the jurisdiction of the consumer protection authorities. If the course is interrupted, you may negotiate with the Centre to cancel the invoice or for a possibility of participating in the course at a later date.
The owner of a sports centre requires payments for shifts that I have not been able to use because the centre has been closed. This is an hourly lease contract. Is there any legal basis for collecting game fees while the hall has been closed?
As a rule, a charge cannot be required for services that cannot be used. Since the centre is closed, there is generally no justification for requiring or collecting payments.
I attend group exercise classes organised by my gym, but the classes have been transferred to the net due to the coronavirus. Can I get a price reduction or cancel my participation, as I do not want to pay for online classes?
In principle, the service provider cannot unilaterally change the content of a contract. Unilateral conversion of gym classes to online classes entitles you to a price reduction, at the very least, as well as a possible right to terminate the contract. If the possibility of such a conversion was already explicitly mentioned at the time the contract was signed, however, you may not be entitled to compensation.
I paid by credit card. Can I get my money back from the credit card company?
If you have the right to get your money back from a seller or service provider, you can request a refund from the bank that issued the credit card. The credit card company cannot require you to primarily contact a company that provided the service you have purchased. Instead, you can choose which party you will be requesting a refund from. However, especially in this exceptional situation, you should review any instructions and information on the schedule of refunds from the service provider's website before submitting your claim to the credit card company.
If you have already received your money back from a seller or service provider, you cannot request a refund from the credit card company. In addition, credit card companies have no obligation to refund a larger sum than they have received from you in the form of payments.
Should I insist on my rights as a consumer in all situations?
The situation is quite exceptional and has a major impact on both consumers and businesses. Consumer law confers certain rights on the consumer, but the exercise of these rights is at the discretion of each consumer. The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the solvency of companies, which may hinder their ability to render a full compensation.
In every case, mind that it will take a longer time to resolve issues. It is not possible to say with certainty in all cases what you are entitled to and what kind of compensation should be considered sufficient. It is worth trying to resolve matters in an amicable manner: in the current exceptional circumstances, a compromise may be a better option than a possibly lengthy dispute.
Many customer service lines are completely congested due to the coronavirus. Exceptional circumstances require a degree of restraint from consumers, and they should use other means of communication instead of the telephone.
If the matter is not urgent, the consumer should wait in peace. Many matters can be resolved afterwards.