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Coronavirus Cancellations: How to Get Your Money Back

Moneymagpie Team 23rd Mar 2020 3 Comments

Reading Time: 6 minutes

From flights to train season tickets to summer festivals: the COIVID-19 crisis has hit everyone financially. This guide will show you how to get refunds for coronavirus cancellations.

While mass gatherings are not yet banned, we’ll also take a look at what you can do to prepare if you’re planning your wedding or have a future event or holiday booked.

Update: Train Tickets

On 23rd March 2020, the Government announced all train franchise contracts suspended. The Government will run all national rail networks for at least six months, on a reduced timetable.

This means if you have a rail ticket for a future date, or hold a season ticket for work that you’re no longer using, you can claim a refund. Contact the rail operator you bought it from to arrange your refund.

1. Always check with your supplier

Coronavirus cancellations affect theatres, gigs, festivals, and all types of events

Whether you’ve bought a ticket to a football match or a business conference has been cancelled, get in touch with the organiser first.

Find out what they’re going to do about refunds. If an organiser cancels an event, they should refund your ticket straight away. It could take a few weeks to get your money, especially if it’s a large event – but keep in touch with the organiser to make sure your refund happens.

However, if the event is postponed – not cancelled – you might not get a refund. This little loophole allows organisers to keep hold of your money until they offer a new date for the event.
If you then can’t make the new date of the event, they need to refund your ticket. However, they don’t HAVE to return your money until a new date is set.

2. Check public health and Foreign Office advice

Keep an eye on public health services for advice about coronavirus and gatherings.

Gatherings aren’t yet officially banned (at 23rd March 2020), but all major and local events are being cancelled by organisers. We’re all being encouraged to stay at home – and venues, restaurants, cafes, and many non-essential retail shops are closed.

Check official Public Health England advice for events in the UK and Foreign Office advice for anything you had booked abroad. If official advice is against travel, gatherings, or forced closure of the venue or event type you’re attending, you can get a refund. Contact the organiser in the first instance – and then try your booking or travel insurance for the next step.

Coronavirus cancellations could affect holiday plans

If you have a holiday booked

We’ve covered coronavirus holiday cancellations here, but the short version is this: if the country you planned to visit is officially advised against by the Foreign Office, you should be entitled to a refund. However, you must have had travel insurance in place PRIOR to the announcement of the country being placed in lockdown.

Check with your travel insurance and operators to find out whether your insurance covers a coronavirus cancellation refund.

If your hotel, flight, or package holiday has been cancelled and you’re not getting anywhere with your refund, try the ombudsman. The UK European Consumer Centre is a little-known free service that helps consumers get refunds where other avenues have failed.

3. What if you get ill or have to self-isolate?

Normally, most event organisers and travel operators or insurance companies won’t allow a refund without medical evidence that you weren’t fit for travel.

At the moment, each event organiser and travel company is deciding this on their own terms. That’s because public health advice is to stay at home and not see a GP if you have even mild coronavirus symptoms.

You can get a sick note by calling NHS 111, although it’s advised to only call this service if you absolutely must, as it’s currently overwhelmed. You can check the NHS 111 website for more information in the first instance.

It’s also much harder to know what’ll happen if you’re required to self-isolate but have no symptoms of the virus. Going to an event would be against public health advice – but it’s hard to prove you’ve been placed in self-isolation for a genuine fear of either getting the virus (if you’ve underlying health conditions) or you have been in contact with someone who has (or may have) coronavirus.

We’ll keep this section updated as time goes on. For now, the first thing to do is contact the event organiser or travel operator to find out what their policy is if you’re too ill to travel or are self-isolating and unable to attend an event or travel.

4. Check the ticketing platform for insurance cover

Most ticketing platforms for events have lots of add-ons when you go to buy a ticket. It’s easy to ‘accept all’ and not really know what you’re paying extra for.

If you can’t attend an event, and the organisers are still running it or have not returned your refund queries, check the ticketing platform. You may have paid for event cancellation insurance, or insurance for your own cancellation of the ticket.

A refund may not include the original booking and delivery fees you paid. Legally, you only need to receive the face value of the ticket.

5. Contact your credit card company

If you’re having no luck getting a refund for your ticket and you used a credit card get in touch with your provider.

Anything worth between £100 – £30,000 is covered by the Consumer Credit Act. That means your credit card company is jointly responsible for a breach of contract (like when an event is cancelled). That means you can claim your money back directly from them.

For anything under £100, or tickets bought on a debit card, you can ask your bank for a chargeback. It’s not a legal right – but many providers are happy to help.

6. Prepare for Coronavirus to affect your wedding plans

Could coronavirus cancellations affect your wedding plans?

If you’re getting married this year, coronavirus is likely to have been at the forefront of your worries lately. You don’t want to change your big day because of it – but what if people don’t attend, or mass gatherings are banned?

As of March 20th 2020, Church of England weddings are limited to only five people – the vicar, the couple getting married, and two witnesses. Other faiths are expected to follow suit in the coming days. Your reception is also likely to be cancelled as venues are closed.

The first thing you need to do now, if you haven’t already, is to get wedding insurance. It’ll ensure you get refunded if you have to cancel the wedding. More than that, it covers you for out-of-pocket expenses that are out of your control – for example, if your florist goes bust because of a business slowdown, you can claim from your insurance. Or if your caterer pulls out last-minute because their staff are ill, your insurance can help recover the costs (including premiums for short-notice supplier bookings).

Talk to your VIPS

Find out if your wedding venue can set up an internet link with a live video streaming option. This lets people watch your wedding from anywhere in the world.

Finally, if your wedding is still in the planning stage and you’ve not yet set a date, consider delaying it until later this year or to next year. It’ll give you more time to save up for it, too, and ensure the peak of the pandemic has (hopefully) passed to make sure it doesn’t ruin your special day.

7. Looking ahead: book now or wait?

If you had your heart set on a summer full of music festivals you’ll be wondering whether to book anything now or weather the storm.

Tickets are still selling out for big events, so if you want to make sure you’ve got a place if it goes ahead – definitely book! Just make sure you include any insurance cover for illness or cancellations – including coronavirus cancellations.

If your event or plans don’t have a set date, it’s worth considering delaying them for a little while. This also means you benefit from better market rates, too. Some industries, like travel and hospitality, are going to struggle in the next few months. To entice people to use their services, prices are set to drop. Make sure you add comprehensive insurance cover to your plans. Always book insurance at the same time you book your tickets – never wait until later. This covers you immediately in case of cancellations.

Are you worried?

These are scary times but don’t panic, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Make sure you’re signed up to our Daily Coronavirus Self-Isolation Survival Emails for the latest tips delivered straight to your inbox.

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4 years ago

Some useful advice.

Barbara Ash
Barbara Ash
4 years ago

My son is at Drama School and has been sent home as there are a number of foreign students in his group and they wanted to fly home which meant they couldn’t put on productions etc. The Principal says he’s going to try and run the last term after Easter but may not have enough pupils or staff. Unfortunately we paid the school fee in advance for the whole course. The Principal says he’s not contracted to refund our money for the last term if for instance the school doesn’t re-open. I think he’s wrong – that he is obliged… Read more »

Jasmine Birtles
4 years ago
Reply to  Barbara Ash

Hi Barbara. This is a really good question – so good that we have asked our friend David Gordon at www.dg-law.co.uk to tell us what he thinks. This is his answer: I think all over the world people are having the same issue. There is a contractual concept of “frustration” which I’ve literally written an email to another client on so I’ll copy and paste here. “You may want to quote the doctrine of “frustration” which I think we are going to hear a lot about. This is where events take place after a contract is formed which undermines the… Read more »

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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