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Complaints about events

Sometimes when you go to sporting or music events or the theatre you may have a right to complain if:

  • you were refused admission to the venue
  • a large screen to see the performers did not work
  • your seat wasn’t what you expected
  • the event finished much earlier than you thought
  • an understudy appeared instead of the performer you were hoping to see

This page looks at these issues.

Top tips

Small print on tickets

If it says on the small print of your ticket that the organisers have the right to make a change to the event without a valid reason, this may not be fair and the organisers may be breaking the law.

You were refused admission to the venue

The venue may have the right to refuse you admission if:

  • they have a dress or behaviour code which you break
  • there was a health and safety risk, for example if you had consumed too much alcohol
  • you bought a ticket that has been resold, when the ticket says in the small print it is not for resale. The venue would need to prove that the ticket had been resold
  • your ticket is fake. In this case contact the ticket seller, but you are unlikely to get your money back, unless you paid by card

If you are refused admission for another reason, the venue could have broken their contract and you may be able to claim back the cost of the ticket.

Problems with the quality of sound and vision

An event is a service which should by law be carried out with reasonable care and skill. If there are problems with the quality of sound or visual aspects of the event, you can argue that reasonable care and skill has not been used, and may be able to claim money back for the cost of the ticket.

If the view was restricted, this should have been made clear on the ticket.

Examples are a large screen not working at a large music concert, which people rely on to see the artists on stage. There may also be a temporary structure which restricts your view, such as a piece of electrical equipment.

If this happens, contact the venue to ask about a possible refund.

If you don’t get your money back, you can try writing to the venue, contacting the ticket's seller's professional association, then using an alternative dispute resolution scheme, or going to court.

Your seat wasn’t what you expected

You may have asked for a front row seat and got a back row one, or been sent a ticket with a different view in a different seat to the one you asked for. If this happens, get a refund from the ticket seller and ask for the correct ticket, or attend the event and claim back for loss of enjoyment, as long as you let the ticket seller know in advance you are going to do this.

The event finished much earlier than you thought

There may be a time written on the ticket which says when the event should end, but it ends much earlier. There could be a reason for this, for example due to very bad weather.

If you were made aware in advance of the time the event was due to finish, and the event finishes early for no good reason, contact the venue as you could make a claim for loss of enjoyment. You can do this because the contract has been broken between you and the organisers, or because the advertising was misleading. The event was not as it was described to you, which it should have been by law.

If you don’t get your money back, you can try writing to the venue, contacting the ticket's seller's professional association, then using an alternative dispute resolution scheme, or going to court

An understudy appeared instead of the performer you were hoping to see

In a theatre production, if an understudy appears instead of the show’s headline star, or if an artist you expect to see doesn’t appear at a music festival where there are other artists, you are unlikely to be entitled to a refund. You could argue that there is a claim for loss of enjoyment, but if you went to court about this, the courts may disagree with you. For example, they may say it's reasonable to expect an understudy to take the place of the main act on some occasions.

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