Rescheduled match will cost me £356
I bought three tickets for this month’s Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool from Seatsbay.com. The fixture has been postponed, and since we live in Germany, we can’t easily attend a rescheduled game. I asked for a refund, but Seatsbay says it would only refund 60% of the ticket price which, as I paid £890, is a loss of £356. Do I have a case?’
JM, Berlin, Germany
The law is unambiguous when an event is cancelled. The customer should get a refund. Rescheduling is one of those notorious grey areas. The now defunct Office of Fair Trading ordered football clubs to refund fans in full if they could not attend a rescheduled match. However, those who buy from unofficial resellers have fewer protections.
Seatsbay says its refund policy is in its terms and conditions. “Refunds will not be issued if the date changes, as we spent time and money getting the tickets,” it says. “This is not something we try to hide, or that is written in small print.” In fact, the relevant clause is a line of small print half way down the voluminous terms and conditions.
According to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), refund rights depend on the seller’s terms and conditions, but those which exclude a refund in any circumstances are likely to be unfair and unenforceable, while any deductions should be reasonable.
Gary Rycroft, partner of law firm Joseph A Jones & Co, says the CMA should investigate opaque fees. “In law you should not expect to be refunded booking fees if an event is postponed, but, in my view, to comply with the Consumer Rights Act, deductions should be transparent from the outset.” Seatsbay declined to tell me what its service fees are.
Perhaps the real issue is the hugely inflated prices charged by secondary ticket sellers. Arsenal’s top price ticket is £97. You were charged £296. It is, in fact, illegal in England and Wales for unauthorised firms to resell football tickets. Seatsbay confirms it is not affiliated to any club. “Since we are not in England or Wales, and as transactions are not made there, there is nothing illegal,” it says.
Customers who paid by credit card may be able to claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, or else via the small claims court.
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