Coronavirus: Cancelled events - voucher or refund?

Numerous events in Europe have to be cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic: from the Olympic Games, the UEFA EURO 2020 and the Eurovision Song Contest to concerts, festivals and trade fairs.

Event organisers in Germany can offer a voucher to consumers if an event is cancelled due to corona. If the voucher cannot be redeemed by the end of 2021, consumers can claim a payout. A new law to this effect has been in force since 20 May 2020. In other European countries a voucher policy was introduced even earlier.

My event had to be cancelled: What rights do I have? - An overview by country

Your concert in Prague, theatre play in Amsterdam or football game in Munich cannot take place due to the corona crisis? Some European countries have introduced a voucher policy to save companies: Instead of money, consumers receive a coupon. What applies in your case depends on the country the event organiser or ticket dealer is based in. An overview.

Austria: 70 Euro vouchers

Austrian event organisers are allowed to offer consumers a voucher for cancelled cultural and sports events instead of refunding the money. Compared to other EU countries, however, there is a special feature.

70 Euro voucher for tickets in a price range between 70 and 250 Euro

For tickets in a price range between 70 and 250 euros, the organiser may issue a voucher in the amount of 70 euros. The remaining amount must be paid out. The voucher is valid until December 31, 2022. If you have not redeemed it by this date, you are entitled to a refund.

If the original ticket price exceeds 250 Euro, a different calculation applies. What you can claim then must be checked in each individual case.

Example

You bought a ticket for the Vienna Opera worth 70 Euro but the show had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. In this case the organiser may give you a voucher of 70 euros. The remaining 80 euros must be refunded.

Belgium: Voucher for new date

In Belgium the event organiser can offer the customers a voucher for an alternative date scheduled not more than one year later.

If you are unable to attend the new event date, you must provide proof and can then ask for a refund.

If the event is finally cancelled, the consumer must receive the money back within three months.

France: Voucher & alternative event

Event operators in France are allowed to issue vouchers for cancelled events. This is the case if the customer is informed between March 1, 2020 and September 15, 2020 that the event cannot take place or the customer cancels on his own during this period.

The voucher is valid for 18 months. The organiser must also offer the customer an alternative for the cancelled event. If this alternative is cheaper than the original event, you receive the difference in the form of a voucher.

The vouchers are covered against the insolvency of the event company.

If the consumer does not redeem the voucher within the validity period of 18 months, he can claim back the money.

Germany: Voucher or payout at the end of 2021

In Germany, event organisers are allowed to issue vouchers instead of refunding money for event tickets purchased before 8 March 2020.  A new law has been in force since 20 May 2020.

The value of the voucher must be equal to the original ticket price and must also include any booking fees. The costumer cannot be charged for additional costs such as the shipping of the voucher.

There is a hardship clause: If you are no longer able to pay your living expenses (such as rent), you may demand a payout.

If you have not redeemed the voucher by 31 December 2021, you can also claim a payout.

The vouchers are not secured against company bankruptcy. The consumer therefore bears the risk.

Please also note that the voucher must state that it was issued in the context of the Covid19 pandemic. Additionally, it must state that the holder can demand a payout of the voucher if a voucher is unreasonable for him or if he has not redeemed it by 31 December 2021.

Italy: Consumers must request the voucher

A law of 27 April 2020 regulates the situation in a new way: Instead of money, consumers may now be offered a voucher if they cannot attend the event due to a public ban. The voucher is valid for one year from the date of issue. Ticket holders must request the voucher and have 30 days to do so. The period begins on the date of the announcement of the curfew (lockdown) or its extension.

Netherlands: No obligation to accept the voucher

If an event is postponed, the ticket remains valid for the new date. The event must be rescheduled at the latest 13 months after the original date.

If a consumer is unable to attend the replacement date or the event is finally completely cancelled, the provider may offer a voucher instead of a refund.

There is no obligation to accept the voucher, even if some companies argue differently. If you refuse the voucher, you are entitled to a refund of the ticket costs.

 

Consider the following points before accepting a voucher:

Does the voucher value correspond to the original purchase price?

The value of the voucher must represent the value of the originally purchased ticket (including service fees).
 

Is the validity period indicated on the voucher?

The voucher must be redeemed within 12 months and the validity period must be stated on it.

 

Vouchers are not protected against a possible insolvency of the company.

Portugal: Alternative date not more than one year later

The Portuguese Parliament has decided that cancelled events from February 28, 2020 will be postponed to another date.

The alternative date must be scheduled not more than one year later. A refund of the ticket price is not possible.

Instead of an alternative date, the event can also take place at a different location (up to 50 km from the original location).

Spain: Purchase contract for ticket can be cancelled

If an event is postponed, the consumer can cancel the purchase contract for the event ticket and has 14 days to do so (from the date of cancellation). You must expressly declare, preferably in writing, that you wish to cancel the contract.

The event operator may initially offer the customer an alternative date or a voucher instead of refunding the money. The consumer has 60 days to accept or reject the offer. In the latter case he must get his money back. The refund must be made through the same way the customer paid. Any costs incurred may not be charged to him.

 

Frequently asked questions: Event cancelled or postponed - What rights do I have?

You have, according to German law, the possibility to ask for a voucher.

This applies to tickets purchased before 8 March 2020. The voucher can be redeemed either for a catch-up event or for another offer of the same organiser. If you do not use the voucher by the end of 2021, it will be paid out.

Some providers allow consumers to keep their previous ticket and use ist on the alternative event date. In this case you can decide whether you want to keep the ticket or rather have a voucher.

In this case you are not entitled to a refund. The reason: The event is taking place. The situation is different if the event is cancelled.

If the event takes place but you do not longer want to attend because you are afraid of an infection, you are not entitled to a refund.

The voucher policies introduced in some European countries, including Germany, are designed to protect event organisers. Nevertheless, it is possible that the economic consequences of the corona crisis will drive some businesses to bankruptcy.

In practice, the chances of consumers making claims in the event of an insolvency are poor.

Vouchers that have been issued during the corona crisis are not protected against company insolvency.

Please contact the organiser, ideally in writing, for example by email. In some cases, the ticket dealer will handle the refund. If in doubt, contact both.

No, you are not entitled to a refund of other expenses such as flight, train or hotel if the provider does not cancel on his own initiative.

You can only get these expenses back if the organiser is responsible for the cancellation of the event. (If an event has to be cancelled due to the coronavirus, this is not the case)

However, some companies, such as railway or airline companies, offer customers goodwill solutions. For example, non-cancellable options can now be cancelled or converted into vouchers. Tip: Ask for it!

A ticket insurance is comparable to a travel cancellation insurance. It covers the risk that the ticket holder is unable to attend an event for personal reasons, for example for health reasons or due to an accident.

Important: Before subscribing to ticket insurance, read carefully in which cases you are covered!

A travel cancellation insurance only pays if the traveller is ill himself. The fear of getting infected during an event is not enough to get the ticket price back.

Some insurance companies exclude pandemics in their insurance conditions. The World Health Organization has classified the corona virus as a pandemic.

This means: If an event is cancelled due to corona, an insurance company that does not cover pandemics does not have to pay you back. However, if you are ill yourself and therefore unable to attend the event, your insurance will pay.