The corona situation raises many questions and concerns among consumers. The FCCA is closely monitoring the situation and consumer advisors are now answering to the most common 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
The Government has made 11.6.2020 further specifications to its policy on organising major outdoor events. The number of attendees at public events in enclosed outdoor spaces is still restricted to 500 until 31 July 2020. However, the permitted number of attendees may be exceeded in certain cases starting on 1 July.
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. 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.
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.
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?
You can negotiate with your gym company for a free extension of your membership or a price reduction equivalent to the interruption. Some of the gym chains are still open, but many of them offer their clients the opportunity to temporarily suspend their membership.
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.
I have a temporary sports channel subscription. What are my rights after all sports events have been cancelled until further notice?
For sports channels, the main content of the service consists of sending direct and new sports events. Since practically all ball sports leagues and other top-level sports have been interrupted, essential parts of the service in accordance with the agreement are not available. This may justify the termination of contracts, including fixed-term contracts. If a package includes other channels in addition to sports channels, the compensation can usually be a price reduction instead of needing to terminate the contract.
Several service providers have, on their own initiative, reduced monthly fees or provided alternative content to sports broadcasts. Everyone must consider for themselves whether this is satisfactory. You can, if you wish, submit a complaint to the service provider if you consider the offered refund to be insufficient.
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.
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.
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.