In my hometown of Manchester, there is a ginormous black box that is the UK’s largest indoor arena, or it will be, when it opens.

However, as Peter Kaye and Olivia Rodrigo fans will be painfully aware, the show hasn’t gone on. A spate of unspecified technical problems has meant that some major gigs have had to be cancelled at the last minute, leaving fans disappointed and stuck with huge bills for travel and accommodation.

So what are your rights when gigs, concerts, festivals and events get cancelled? I’ve drafted in my fellow TV expert, Gary Rycroft, to tackle all of your questions.

Cancellation and rescheduled events

When an event is cancelled, the only silver lining is you are entitled to a full refund, usually through the card or payment method you used to buy the tickets. Don’t panic and demand a refund straight away though, as your ticket usually morphs in to a new one for any rescheduled event. However, if you can’t attend the new date, you should get a full refund.

Some – but not all – refunds are issued automatically. If you’ve lost or replaced your card or changed banks since the tickets were booked, contact the ticket agency to request a full refund to an alternative account. You will have to prove how you are though.

If you’ve bought through a resale agency then things get tricky. Contact the seller of the tickets as they are the ones who will have to claim the refund and pass it on to you.

Accommodation, travel and additional costs

Unless you have booked a ‘package’ though a tour operator accommodation and other costs are considered separate legal arrangements. So should the concert not go ahead, you are unlikely to be able to claim the cost incurred by you in cancelling a hotel from the concert promoter. This is because these costs are generally considered to have arisen ‘as a consequence’ rather than having a direct connection to the booking, which means they are not the responsibility of the artist or venue who cancels the event. You could always have night away, just without the concert!

Alternatively you can always ask the hotel or provider of accommodation if you can move your booking to a date in the future, though this is likely to cost a bit of cash – and this is at their discretion.

However, things aren’t that black and white.  An artist falling ill, or an unexpected event like a flood resulting in a gig cancellation is not considered predictable. But arguably, the failure to complete construction or repairs to a venue is a ‘foreseeable’ event – particularly if the business knew about potential problems but failed to warn the public.

Under these circumstances, you could ask the business responsible to compensate you for any losses you could have avoided had they told you up front about the situation.

Event insurance

In the past, the ticketing industry hasn’t covered itself with glory by selling insurance policies for lost tickets and cancelled events. As I’ve mentioned, you get your money back anyway for these things. However, gig insurance policies now cover ‘missed events’ (sometimes). These policies cover a range of scenarios, from a death in the family to strike action on transport or illness. But they vary massively in quality.

How to avoid problems – the checklist

If you’re planning on going to a gig or event, here’s my checklist:

  • Always pay on a credit card if the costs are over £100 as you can claim back from the card provider if the promoter goes bust or there’s a refund problem.
  • With accommodation, choose the option that allows you to cancel close to the date of the event.
  • Try to avoid buying train or travel tickets until closer to the event – and check the refund policies.
  • Check the ticket site’s app so you know how to claim refunds, contact the firm and ‘gift’ tickets you can’t use.

Martyn James is a leading consumer rights campaigner, TV and radio broadcaster and journalist. Gary Rycroft is a senior partner at Joseph A Jones & Co Solicitors, a broadcaster and columnist

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