Consumer rights with tickets and event changes
When consumers buy tickets to concerts, sporting events, festivals, shows, and other events, they have the usual consumer rights about the performance of services.
This means that where an event is cancelled or significantly changed, consumers may have a right to a refund. This will depend on:
- the reason for the cancellation or change
- the nature of the change
- the terms and conditions of the ticket.
Where the event organiser chooses to cancel or makes a major change to an event, consumers are entitled to a refund under their consumer rights. Examples of a major change might be where the headline act at a festival is changed, or where the location of a show is changed from one city to another.
Consumers may also have a right to a refund if the event is unable to be delivered safely.
Consumers may also have a right to claim compensation for losses related to the cancellation of, or significant change to, the event. For example, travel or accommodation expenses for the event. This will depend on the situation. See Claiming compensation for more information.
However, a consumer is not entitled to a remedy under the consumer law if the cancellation or change is due to:
- actions by a person other than the event organiser, such as government restrictions banning the event from going ahead, or
- an event beyond human control, such as a natural disaster interrupting the event.
In these situations, the remedies consumers are entitled to will depend on the terms and conditions of their ticket. Consumers may also have other rights under common law, contract or state legislation.
What to look out for when buying tickets
Benefits of buying from an authorised seller or reseller
We recommend buying tickets from an authorised ticket seller.
Tickets sold by authorised sellers often carry conditions that restrict their resale or transfer above their original value. Promoters and venues also have conditions of entry.
Risks when buying from an unauthorised seller or reseller
If consumers buy from an unauthorised seller or reseller, they risk:
- being turned away at the venue
- not getting the seats they ordered
- not being made aware of certain conditions, such as a restricted view
- not getting a ticket or getting a fake one.
It may also be more difficult to get a refund or exchange if the show is postponed or cancelled.
Watching out for scammers
Major events may also attract scammers seeking to take advantage of the strong demand for tickets.
Scammers may use fake ticketing websites or email scams to make false claims about the event, such as being part of a ticket lottery or competition. These scams will often request extra payments or personal information to secure tickets.
Things to check before buying a ticket
Before buying a ticket, consumers should check:
- the authorised seller of tickets for the event. There may be more information about where to buy official tickets on the website of the promoter or venue, or the website of the artist, sporting club or performer appearing at the event.
- if there is an official ticket reseller for the event.
- that the ticket seller who comes up first in the online search results is the authorised ticket seller and not a reseller who may have paid to be at the top of the list.
- when tickets officially go on sale. If tickets are on sale before the official date, they might be fake.
- that they are purchasing from a secure website. Consumers should check that the web address starts with https: instead of http: and has a padlock symbol.
- any restrictions on the ticket.
Paying for tickets
If consumers pay for tickets with a credit card, they can ask their bank or credit card provider for a chargeback if they don’t receive what they pay for.
Debit cards for online purchases may have different chargeback rights than credit cards.
Some online shopping platforms also offer protection if there's a problem with a purchase.
Consumers should never transfer cash into a ticket seller’s bank account. They should make sure to get a receipt for their purchase.
Business obligations when selling and reselling tickets
Ticket sellers must:
- have the right to sell the tickets
- not make false or misleading claims about the event or availability of tickets, or that it is the authorised seller of tickets for an event
- not hide costs or other details from consumers, such as whether there is a restricted view from particular seats, or whether there are special conditions of entry
- not engage in drip pricing
- ensure that the ticket matches the description provided on the website, including making sure that the ticket shows the correct seat or venue.
In 2017 we took action against ticket reseller Viagogo for misleading consumers when reselling tickets for live music and sports events.
The Federal Court found that Viagogo made false or misleading representations to consumers that it was the ‘official’ seller of tickets to particular events, that tickets were scarce, and that consumers could buy tickets for a particular price when this was not the case. This was because significant fees (including a 27.6% booking fee) were not disclosed until late in the booking process.
Viagogo was ordered by the Federal Court to pay a penalty of $7 million.
Read more in the Viagogo ACCC media release
Responsibilities of ticket resellers
What a ticket reseller is
A ticket reseller is a business that resells event tickets that have previously been purchased from a primary ticket seller.
What ticket resellers must do
In addition to following the rules for all ticket sellers, ticket resellers must also ensure that consumers:
- know that they are using a ticket resale platform rather than the authorised seller
- are informed of any difference between the original ticket price and the resale price.
Ticket resellers must clearly and continuously display the following information:
- A statement that says “This is a ticket resale service. You are not buying from a primary ticket provider.”
- The total price that a consumer would reasonably be expected to pay if they purchased the ticket from an authorised ticket seller (alongside the resale price).
The total price excludes delivery costs and can be worked out in many ways. The total price may be:
- the price stated on the original ticket
- the amount for which the ticket was originally sold by the authorised seller
- the amount that was specified in an advertisement or website of the authorised seller
- estimated by comparing the characteristics of the ticket to similar tickets sold by an authorised seller.
These rules don’t apply to private sales of tickets through online marketplaces.
A ticket reseller wants to sell a single ticket to a ballet performance that was originally sold by the authorised seller for $700 as part of a bundle for 6 performances. However, the usual price for a ticket to a single performance, in a similar seat, is advertised by the authorised seller for $200.
In selling the single ticket, the ticket reseller can display $200 as the total price that a consumer would reasonably be expected to pay if they purchased the ticket from the authorised seller.
Tickets that sell out quickly
Tickets for popular events can sell out quickly.
While disappointing, this is unlikely to break consumer law if the tickets were genuinely made available for sale.
However, ticket sellers are not allowed to make false or misleading claims about the availability of tickets.