Coronavirus (COVID-19): consumer advice for cancelled weddings and events

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, consumer advice is available if you’ve had a wedding booking cancelled, want to postpone or cancel a wedding booking, or you have tickets for a music, sporting or theatre event that has been postponed or cancelled.

If your venue or supplier cancels

If your venue or supplier cancels your event, consumer protection law will generally allow you to get a refund. 

You'll need to check your contract terms and conditions for anything that isn’t included.  You should also check any insurance that you may have taken out.

As it is likely that you will want to arrange the cancelled wedding on an alternative date, the first thing you should do is speak with the venue and any suppliers that you have agreements with to attempt to negotiate a way forward. This includes:

  • florist(s)
  • musicians
  • photographer(s) 

If you cannot negotiate a way forward, or you prefer a refund, you should write to the business stating that you are asking for a refund.

Legally you are entitled to a refund where:

  • a business has cancelled a contract without providing any of the promised goods or services
  • no service is provided by a business (for example because this is prevented by Government public health measures)
  • you cancel, or are prevented from getting any services, because government public health measures mean you are not allowed to use the services

If you have already received some of the services that you've paid for in advance, then you're only entitled to a refund for the services you do not get. 

In some cases, where government public health measures prevent a business from providing a service or the consumer from receiving it, the business may be able to charge you for the costs it has already had to pay. 

These circumstances are relatively rare and the costs that may be taken from refunds will usually be limited. An example of this could be where the venue has already baked your wedding cake.

The above rights to a refund usually apply even where you have paid what the business says is a non-refundable deposit or advance payment.

Businesses should not charge an administration fee (or similar) for processing refunds in the above circumstances.

You may be offered vouchers or re-scheduling as an alternative to a refund, however you should not be misled or pressured into accepting these. A refund should still be an option that is just as clearly and easily available. 

Any restrictions that apply to vouchers or re-scheduling, such as the period in which the services can be re-scheduled, must also be fair and made clear.

If a business refuses to refund you, you should do the following:

  • write to the business to make a complaint and to make it clear that you are seeking a refund
  • provide the details of your booking when you are writing, and keep a copy of what you sent

Report to Consumerline

Report the matter to the Trading Standards Service and get advice by contacting Consumerline.

If you feel that the business is acting unfairly, you can also report it online to the Competition and Markets Authority

If you cancel or postpone your wedding

If you choose to cancel your wedding then you should speak to your venue and suppliers, and try to agree a postponement to a later date.

If this isn’t possible and you have to cancel, you may lose any fees already paid – especially if you’ve only given a short amount of notice.

Legally, deposits can’t be ‘non-refundable’. Just because something is written in a contract does not mean that it is legally binding, as businesses cannot use unfair terms. 

Only in certain circumstances can businesses keep your deposit or ask you to pay a cancellation charge. 

If you cancel the contract, the business is generally only allowed to keep or get an amount enough to cover their actual losses that directly result from your cancellation. This could include costs already paid or loss of profit. 

If a company is not giving you a full refund then ask for a breakdown of why it cannot be refunded. 

Report to Consumerline

Report the matter to the Trading Standards Service and get advice by contacting Consumerline.

Cancelled concerts, sporting events, or theatre shows

If the organiser has cancelled the event and you bought your tickets directly from them or from an official booking site, then you should normally get a refund.

The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) is the industry’s self-regulatory body which requires traders registered with them to refund the ticket’s face value price when an event is cancelled.  

It’s unlikely you’ll get the delivery costs or booking fees back.

If you bought your tickets from any other ticket retailer, you may have fewer consumer protections. You should check the company’s terms and conditions on its website as they may offer guarantees or other protections.

In some cases the event will be rescheduled and you may be happy with this.  If not, you should write to the business and ask for a refund.

Some businesses may offer you a voucher or a credit note instead of a refund.  You do not have to accept their offer and can insist on your right to a refund.

If a business refuses to refund you, you should do the following:

Write to the business

Write to the business to make a complaint and to make it clear that only a refund is acceptable to you.

Provide the details of your booking when you are writing, and keep a copy of what you sent.

Writing may be the best way to contact a business in the current circumstances, as it is a record of your complaint, and contacting some businesses by telephone can be difficult.   

Report to Consumerline

Report the matter to the Trading Standards Service and get advice by contacting Consumerline.

Postponed events: your consumer rights

Keep your ticket for the event and wait for the organiser to announce a new date. 

If you are unable to go to the event on the new date, you will have the same rights as outlined above (event cancelled by the organiser).

If you have paid by card      

If you're unable to get a refund, then you can also check if you can get your money back from your card provider. 

Credit card

If you paid by credit card and your booking was more than £100, you have additional protections if something goes wrong.

Your credit card company is jointly liable for any breach of contract (such as an event cancellation). 

You should write to the card company ‘claiming breach of contract’ asking for a full refund.

Debit card

If you paid by debit card, you can ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your credit or debit card in a process called chargeback.

Chargeback isn’t a right or law and offers no guarantees, but it is a way your bank may be able to help you.

Chargeback is also particularly useful where the cost of the tickets was under £100.

Claiming back hotel and travel costs for a cancelled/ postponed event

If you’ve paid for transport or hotel bookings that you no longer need because your event has been cancelled or postponed, contact the companies you’ve booked with.

They may be able to refund you or rebook your plans for a later date - however, there are no guarantees.

If your hotel and travel plans are also cancelled due to the outbreak of coronavirus you will also be entitled to a refund of those costs. 

There is more information at this link:

 

 

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