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.
Voucher or money back for tickets?
According to German law, consumers are no longer entitled to a refund for their event ticket in the form of money but must accept a voucher. A new law which has not yet entered into force was passed by Bundesrat and Bundestag on 15 May. On this page we keep you up to date about the latest developments. Other EU countries already have a voucher policy in place.
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.
Austrian event organisers can offer consumers partial vouchers for cultural and sporting events.
For tickets up to a value of 70 euros, the organiser can issue a voucher for the full amount.
For tickets in a price range between 70 and 250 euros, the organiser may issue a voucher for 70 euros and pay out the remaining amount.
If the ticket price is more than 250 Euro, the organizer must pay the partial amount of 180 euros. The rest can be issued as a voucher.
The voucher can be redeemed until 31 December 2022. If you do not redeem it by then, you are entitled to a payout of the voucher value.
You bought a ticket for the Vienna Opera worth 150 euros and 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.
If an event is cancelled, the customer does not have to pay for the ticket. If already paid, the organiser may offer a voucher. The new event must take place within two years.
Anyone who is prevented from attending the new date must present proof and can then receive their money.
If there is no new event, the organizer has to refund the paid amount within three months.
This rule applies to events until December 31, 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Czech parliament has adopted an act to mitigate the impact of the current situation on cultural event organisers. Said act is applicable to events with dates until October 31, 2020. The organiser can utilize a grace period which last until October 31, 2021, during which the organiser's obligation to refund money paid for the cancelled event is postponed.
Until March 31, 2021, customers can request a voucher the organiser is obliged to issue within one month and for the minimum amount of the price of the original ticket. During the grace period the organiser shall offer the customer an alternative event within six months of issuance of the voucher. The grace period expires if the voucher is not issued within one month, or if an alternative event with date isn't offered.
If the voucher is not used within the grace period, the organiser's obligation to refund is resumed.
In the following cases you can get the ticket price refunded immediately:
- You have a disability card
- You are registered in the Employment Office's evidence of job seekers, pregnant
- You are currently on a maternity or paternity leave
- You are older than 65 years
- You are a single parent in care of a dependent child
Event operators in France are allowed to issue vouchers for cancelled events. This is the case if the customer is informed between March 12, 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 12 months for cultural events (festivals, concerts etc.) and 18 months for tickets to sporting events. 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 he can claim back the money.
Cancellations made after 16 September 2020
The application of the regulation on vouchers ended on 16 September. For cancellations made during the period of application of the Regulation (12 March to 15 September), traders may continue to issue vouchers. For cancellations made after 16 September, the normal application of the law will apply. This means that if the operator cancels the booking, the consumer must be reimbursed (vouchers are only allowed if the consumer agrees). If the consumer wishes to cancel his participation, the organiser's conditions apply.
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.
Several German federal states are calling for a ban on major events until the end of October.
An regulation of 19 May 2020 states: Instead of money, consumers may be offered a voucher if they cannot attend the event due to a public ban. The voucher is valid for 18 months from the date of issue. Ticket holders must request the voucher and have 30 days to do so. This period starts from the date the regulation was adopted, so 19 May 2020, or the date the consumer was informed of the ban of the event.
Cancelled events will, if possible, be postponed to an alternative date. Tickets remain valid for the new date. Consumers aren't entitled to a refund of the ticket price as long as there is an alternative date.
If a postponement is not possible and the event has to be cancelled completely, the organiser has the choice. He can offer the customer a ticket for an equivalent event or refund the ticket price.
If an event is cancelled, the organiser can set an alternative date within 30 days. If you are unable to attend on the alternative date, the organiser must offer you a voucher. If you don't use the voucher within a year, you must be reimbursed 14 days after the expiry date.
Also, if the event is completely cancelled, the ticket price must be refunded.
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.
If an event is cancelled, the ticket price must be refunded within 180 days.
A law of May 2020 states that for cancelled festivals consumers will receive a voucher. The voucher must be valid until the end of 2021, may be transferred to other people and can also be used for other events of the same organiser. If the voucher has not been redeemed by 31 December 2021, the consumer is entitled to a refund of the ticket price. Attention: You must actively request the refund within 14 days after the expiry date.
For cancelled concerts and cultural events with actual event date between 28 February 2020 and 30 September 2020, consumers cannot claim a refund of the ticket price. If an event cannot be postponed and must be cancelled completely, the organiser may either offer the customer a ticket for an equivalent event or refund the ticket price.
Exception: In the case of exhibitions that are financed by public funds, the ticket price can be recovered.
For events with original date between 8 March 2020 and 20 September 2020, the following applies:
If the event is postponed, consumers can either keep their tickets for the new date or choose a voucher. The organiser must give customers 30 days to decide. If there is no decision, the ticket is automatically valid for the alternative date, which must be no later than the end of September 2021.
If a customer does not wish or is unable to attend the alternative date, a voucher worth the paid amount must be issued. This also applies if the event is cancelled. The voucher can be used for other offers of the same organiser.
If the consumer has not used the voucher by 30 September 2021, they may request a refund of the amount paid. The organiser must then pay out the amount by the end of 2021 at the latest.
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.
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
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