Canceled festivals and refunds: know your rights

Festival season is upon us which should mean a summer of sunny days and great music but sadly it seems that for every well run show there’s a haphazard festival that splutters along on a series of false claims and broken promises – yes, we’re looking at you Supafest and Heatwave.

Hopefully this summer will be incident free, but as veteran promoter Michael Chugg mused at the recent Face The Music conference: “It’s going to be very interesting this coming year to see who gets through the summer”. Chugg believes that the next few months will bring “a rude awakening for a few festivals” and that too many people want to be promoters who don’t have the knowledge or the ability to survive in the business.

To help you through the summer festival season Consumer Affairs Victoria has released a handy guide to your rights regarding cancellations and misleading promotion of music festivals.

Festival ticketing

Consumer Affairs Victoria advises fans to buy tickets to festivals through a licensed ticketing agency as that offers greater protection than buying direct from a festival organiser. Licensed ticketing agents hold ticketing money in trusts and only clear the trust to the promoters once the event has been staged. This means that ticket refunds can be made quickly if an event is cancelled.

Buying tickets on a credit card can also offer further protection, as you can request a chargeback from your bank if the event is cancelled.

Festival cancellation

If you bought a ticket to a music festival and it is cancelled, you have the right to a refund even if the ticket contract says you cannot get a refund.

In the event of a cancellation, your first point of contact for a refund on the ticket should be the licensed ticketing agent or festival organiser. If they refuse or don’t get back to you, you should then contact Consumer Affairs to assist you. If Consumer Affairs is unable to resolve the complaint, you can then take the matter to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal in your state.

What if an event is not staged as it was promoted?

If you bought a ticket to a music festival and it did not go ahead as promoted you may have the right to a full or partial refund.

Consumer Affairs Victoria suggests that if a headline act does not perform or a liquor licence has not been obtained by the festival organisers these could be grounds to claim a refund, although their advice doesn’t define how highly billed the “headline act” must be to make a refund claim.

In the event of an event not being staged as promoted you are advised to:

  • Check the terms and conditions to find out about cancellations
  • Write to the festival organisers and ask for a refund on the ticket
  • If they refuse or don’t get back to you then contact consumer affairs.

If all else fails you can get your revenge on shonky festivals by following FL’s foolproof guide to hating festival lineups