COVID-19 (coronavirus) information for consumers

On this page you will find the latest information on consumer rights, travel and event cancellations in relation to COVID-19. This will be updated regularly as new guidance is available.

The ACCC understands many businesses are struggling to manage cancellations at this time. Mindful of this we are urging consumers to remain patient, and where possible to contact the business by email or website, rather than by phone. These are very complex issues and may take smaller businesses more time to respond.

The ACCC is alert to any instances of unfair or unconscionable conduct on the part of businesses in dealing with consumers during the current crisis.

Travel cancellations and changes

  • If your travel is cancelled the ACCC expects that you will receive a refund or other remedy, such as a credit note or voucher, in most circumstances.
  • If your travel is cancelled due to government restrictions, this impacts your rights under the consumer guarantees. However, you may also have other remedies outside of the Australian Consumer Law.
  • For example, you may still be entitled to a refund under the terms and conditions of your ticket.
  • If you had a right to a refund under these terms and conditions at the time you purchased your ticket, businesses are not permitted to change the terms at a later time to deny you a refund.
  • Depending on your circumstances, you may also have other rights under common law, contract or state legislation.
  • You should contact the business directly to request a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher.
  • If you receive a credit note or voucher, it should have an expiration date which is long enough to allow you to use the credit note or voucher.
  • State and territory consumer protection agencies may be able to assist with guidance or conciliation involving relevant state legislation. Consumers may also wish to seek independent legal advice about whether they may have a remedy under common law, contract or state legislation.
  • The ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly in these exceptional circumstances.
  • You should first approach the provider of the related service to see if they are prepared to offer a refund, replacement service or voucher.
  • You should also check whether you are covered under any travel insurance policy.
  • You may be entitled to compensation for these expenses under the Australian Consumer Law but this will depend on the specific circumstances. This is unlikely to be the case where the travel is cancelled due to government restrictions.
  • If you no longer wish to travel due to concerns about COVID-19, this may be treated as a 'change of mind'.
  • You should contact the provider to see if you are entitled to a remedy such as full or partial refund, credit note or voucher.
  • If you have a health condition that means you are at higher risk you should contact the provider to see if they will offer you a refund or a voucher for a later date.
  • Given the exceptional circumstances, the ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly.

Event cancellations

  • If your event is cancelled the ACCC expects that you will receive a refund or other remedy, such as a credit note or voucher, in most circumstances.
  • If the event is cancelled due to government restrictions, this impacts your rights under the consumer guarantees. However, you may also have other remedies outside of the Australian Consumer Law.
  • For example, you may be entitled to a refund under the terms and conditions of your ticket.
  • If you had a right to a refund under these terms and conditions at the time you purchased your ticket, businesses are not permitted to change the terms at a later time to deny you a refund.
  • Depending on your circumstances, you may also have other rights under common law, contract or state legislation.
  • You should contact the business directly to request a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher.
  • If you receive a credit note or voucher, it should have an expiration date which is long enough to allow you to use the credit note or voucher.
  • State and territory consumer protection agencies may be able to assist with guidance or conciliation involving relevant state legislation. Consumers may also wish to seek independent legal advice about whether they may have a remedy under common law, contract or state legislation.
  • Given the exceptional circumstances, the ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly.
  • You should first approach your travel or accommodation provider to see if they are prepared to offer a replacement service, refund or voucher.
  • You should also check whether you are covered under any travel insurance policy.
  • You may be entitled to compensation for these expenses under the Australian Consumer Law but this will depend on the specific circumstances. This is unlikely to be the case where the event is cancelled due to government restrictions.
  • If you no longer wish to attend an event due to concerns about COVID-19, this may be treated as a 'change of mind'. You should contact the event organiser to see if you are entitled to a remedy such as full or partial refund, credit note or voucher.
  • If you have a health condition that means you are at higher risk, you should contact the event organiser to see if they will offer you a refund or a voucher for a later date.
  • Given the exceptional circumstances, the ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly, including by offering refunds as a goodwill gesture where appropriate.

Product price increases

  • The ACCC cannot prevent or take action to stop excessive pricing, as it has no role in setting prices.
  • In some limited circumstances excessive pricing may be unconscionable, for example where the product is critical to the health or safety of vulnerable consumers.
  • If a business makes misleading claims about the reason for price increases, it will be breaching the Australian Consumer Law.

Gym memberships

I have membership to a gym which has closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Australian Consumer Law prohibits businesses from taking payments for goods or services when there are reasonable grounds to believe the services won’t be supplied. This applies whether or not your contract allows you to suspend payments. So you do not have to continue to make regular payments while services have ceased.
  • If payments have been deducted then you should contact the business to have the payments refunded.
  • Membership ‘freeze’ or ‘holding’ fees may be charged by gyms when customers elect to pause their membership, if this is permitted by the terms and conditions.
  • Given many memberships are being paused due to the government restrictions preventing gyms from operating, rather than customers requesting a pause, the ACCC expects that gyms will not charge membership ‘freeze’ or ‘holding’ fees.
  • The ACCC also expects that gyms will refund any such holding fees incorrectly charged since the government restrictions came into effect.
  • If you’ve made an upfront payment that covers the period of the closure then the ACCC expects you will receive a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher. However, if the service has been suspended due to government restrictions, this impacts your rights to a refund under the consumer guarantees. You should look at the terms and conditions of your contract and any cancellation policy announced by the business, and get in touch with them directly. You may also have rights under contract law where the contract can no longer be performed.

Food delivery services

I have subscribed to a food delivery supplier which has stopped its delivery service.

  • There should be no further payments while supply or delivery of food has stopped. The Australian Consumer Law prohibits businesses from taking payments when there are reasonable grounds to believe the services won’t be supplied. This applies whether or not your contract allows you to suspend payments.
  • If payments have been deducted then you should contact the business to have the payments refunded.
  • The ACCC expects you will receive a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher while food supply has stopped. However, your rights to a refund under the consumer guarantees can be impacted if supply has stopped due to government restrictions, so you should look at the terms and conditions of your contract and any cancellation policy announced by the business. It is best if you contact the provider directly to request a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher.

Wedding cancellations

  • If your wedding is cancelled due to government restrictions, this impacts your rights under the consumer guarantees. However, you may also have other remedies outside of the Australian Consumer Law.
  • For example, you may be entitled to a refund of your deposit under the terms and conditions of your booking.
  • You should contact the venue directly to request a refund or other remedy, such as a credit note to postpone your wedding to a later date.
  • If you had a right to a refund under the terms and conditions at the time you made your booking, businesses are not permitted to change the terms at a later time to deny you a refund.
  • If you receive a credit note or voucher, it should have an expiration date which is long enough to allow you to use the credit note or voucher.
  • Depending on your circumstances, you may also have other rights under common law, contract or state legislation.
  • For example, you may have rights under contract law where the contract can no longer be performed.
  • State and territory consumer protection agencies may be able to assist with guidance or conciliation involving relevant state legislation. Consumers may also wish to seek independent legal advice about whether they may have a remedy under common law, contract or state legislation.
  • The ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly in these exceptional circumstances.
  • You should first approach the provider of each service to see if they are prepared to offer a refund or other remedy, such as credit note or voucher.
  • Whether you are entitled to refund of your deposit will depend on the terms and conditions of your booking with each vendor.
  • You may also have rights under contract law where the contract can no longer be performed.
  • Given the exceptional circumstances, the ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly.
  • If a supplier has accepted payment for your wedding dress, they must supply it to you by the date they have indicated or, if no time was specified, within a reasonable timeframe.
  • You should first contact your supplier to ask whether the dress is still able to be delivered and, if so, when you can expect to receive it.
  • If the business advises that your dress can no longer be supplied, then the ACCC expects you will receive a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher.
  • The ACCC understands that many businesses are struggling to manage supply delays at this point in time due to circumstances outside their control. We urge consumers to remain patient and anticipate that it may take longer than usual for goods to be supplied.
  • You are not entitled to a refund under the Australian Consumer Law if you wish to return wedding items that you have purchased but no longer require.
  • Under the Australian Consumer Law, you are only entitled to a remedy if your product fails to meet a consumer guarantee. The remedy you’re entitled to will depend on whether you have a major or minor problem with the product.
  • Please see our FAQ on travel cancellations and changes.
  • Please see our FAQ on travel cancellations and changes.
  • You should first contact your insurer to check whether you are covered for your wedding cancellation under your wedding or event insurance policy.
  • If you disagree with your insurer’s decision you should discuss your complaint with them and explain what you would like the outcome to be. As part of the insurer’s Internal Dispute Resolution they will have a certain number of days to respond to your dispute.
  • If your dispute remains unresolved, you can contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) for assistance. The AFCA Significant Event Hotline (1800 337 444) provides priority service for those financially impacted by COVID-19 and wish to make a complaint about financial products or services.

Material changes to services

In order to provide services in line with the government restrictions, some service providers have changed the substance of the service consumers had originally contracted them to provide. For example, in person guitar lessons replaced with online guitar lessons, or gym memberships replaced with access to online workout plans.

  • Where there have been changes to the service being provided, the ACCC expects that the business will clearly communicate these changes to its customers.
  • Your rights in relation to a changed service will depend on whether the change is a material change or whether the change has a minimal effect on the business’ ability to provide the service originally contracted for.
  • Where the change is a material change, you may wish to still continue with the service. However, if you do not wish to continue, the ACCC expects that business will not charge you for the changed service where you have advised the business that you do not wish to proceed with the changed service.

Still have issues or concerns?

You can contact the ACCC with consumer and small business questions or concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information

Flight delays & cancellations

MoneySmart - Travel insurance

ACCC/AER position statement on COVID-19 

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