Complaining about an event

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

You can complain about an event, for example a concert, festival or a sports event, if it wasn’t what you expected.  

Check if you can complain

It might be worth complaining if, for example, you didn’t get the seats you booked or you couldn’t see the performance because a large screen didn’t work properly.

You can’t complain if you weren’t allowed in to an event because, for example, you were drunk.

If you booked to see a particular performer but saw their understudy instead, you could complain but you’re not likely to get a refund as it’s reasonable for an understudy to take the main part occasionally.

You should complain if:

You didn’t get the seat you expected

If you got different seats from the ones you booked, you can:

  • ask the ticket seller for a refund and the correct ticket if the event hasn’t taken place yet

  • go to the event and then make a complaint - you should let the ticket seller know in advance that you’re going to do that

You were refused admission to the event

A venue can refuse to let you in to an event if:

  • you break the dress or behaviour code

  • you might cause a health or safety risk - for example, if you’re drunk

  • you bought a ticket that had been resold and resale wasn't allowed - check the terms of sale on the event or artist's website. The venue would have to prove that the ticket had been resold

  • your ticket is a fake - contact Action Fraud

If you’re refused admission for another reason, the venue could have broken their contract. You might be able to claim back the cost of the ticket.

You couldn’t see or hear the event properly

The event should be organised properly and run smoothly. This means you should be able to hear and see the event. You should complain if:

  • there's a problem with the quality of the sound

  • your view is obstructed and your ticket didn't say it would be

The event finished much earlier than you thought

The event must be as it was described unless there’s a good reason. This could be, for example, a football match that finishes early because of bad weather.

If you were told in advance when the event would end but it finished early for no good reason, contact the venue and tell them what you want. Explain that you think the organisers have broken their contract with you or that their advertising was misleading.

Getting your money back

You should first contact the ticket seller (if you know who they are) or the venue for a refund. If you bought the ticket from a reselling site, you're unlikely to get your money back.

If you don’t get your money back, you can try:

  • contacting the ticket seller’s professional association - like the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers - which sets standards for its members and deals with complaints against members

  • making a complaint

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Page last reviewed on 26 January 2018