If things go wrong
If you are not happy with your event ticket, eg they are not the seats you thought you booked, you can:
- Contact the ticket agent or promoter: Before you make contact, read our information on your rights and how to complain. Get in touch as soon as you can.
- Ask your bank or credit card company for a chargeback: This reverses the payment on your credit or debit card. There are usually time limits on chargebacks.
- Claim on event insurance: If you took this out when buying your ticket, you may be able to claim back the price of your ticket if you can no longer attend. Reasons covered include: being ill, in an accident, and airline delays.
- Go to the Disputes Tribunal: They may help you reach an agreement with the ticket agent or promoter, or order them to act.
- Report the seller to the Commerce Commission: If you think the seller has misled or deceived you. This government agency doesn't take on individual cases. But your information will help them assess if the issue is causing wider harm.
You may not have the same rights if you bought from an individual reseller.
There is a time limit on getting a chargeback. Ask your bank or credit card company what it is.
Chargebacks(external link) — Banking Ombudsman
An event ticket and its terms and conditions form a contract between you and the ticket seller.
You have the rights that the terms and conditions say that you have. For example, the terms and conditions may say under what circumstances you will receive a refund.
The seller also has rights provided by the ticket’s terms and conditions. For example, the terms and conditions could provide that the event organiser can change a performer line up in a festival. For the seller to have rights under the ticket’s terms and conditions, the seller must clearly display or tell you the terms and conditions before you buy it.
In addition to these rights:
- Any statements by promoters, ticket sellers and event organisers must be true and not misleading. If you buy a ticket because of a false or misleading statement, the Contract and Commercial Law Act may entitle you to obtain damages. If the misrepresentation makes the tickets substantially less beneficial to you, you may be able to cancel the contract and obtain a refund or other damages. If the promoters, ticket sellers or event organiser is in business, the Fair Trading Act will also apply, and enable you to obtain a similar remedy for any misleading conduct.
- Promoters, ticket agents and event organisers who are in business must comply with the guarantees in the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). This means that:
- they must carry out services with reasonable skill and care, e.g. use reasonable care and skill in managing the booking process or organising the event
- if you told the ticket seller your purpose for buying the tickets, or that you wanted your ticket to provide something in particular (e.g. a front row seat), then the tickets must provide this.
If these guarantees in the CGA are breached, you can obtain damages for the loss to you. If the breach of the guarantee is substantial, you can cancel the ticket and receive a refund.
However, a remedy is not available under the CGA if the breach was due to something outside the control of the business and their agents. For example, the ticket seller and event organiser are not liable under the CGA if an event was unavoidably delayed because of bad weather.
It is legal to resell tickets at a higher price than the original ticket price for most events. Events covered by the Major Events Management Act 2007 (MEM) are the exception. Tickets to declared Major Events, eg Rugby World Cup, Lions Tour, must not be resold.
Ticket resale websites
If you bought tickets from a ticket resale website or trader, you have rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act. Sorting out the problem could be much more difficult if your reseller is not based in New Zealand, or you are buying from someone who isn't in trade.
Private sale or unlicensed reseller
If you were sold tickets through an unlicensed reseller, eg through someone on Facebook, the Consumer Guarantees Act does not apply. It is up to you and the reseller to resolve the issue.
Complain to the Commerce Commission if the seller said they were a licensed trader, but were selling privately. They may investigate and issue a warning or fine.
Buying event tickets(external link) — Commerce Commission
Event cancelled or postponed
If an event or show is cancelled, you’re entitled to a full refund plus the booking fee.
If a show or event is postponed and the new date doesn't suit you, you may be able to claim a refund. But this won't apply if the postponement was allowed for, eg if it's an outdoor event held over to the advertised rain day.
Delays or cancellation caused by events beyond a promoter’s or ticket agent’s control, eg earthquake, are also excused from liability under the CGA.
Contracts and sales agreements
Wrong seats, refused entry or bad seats
If you have paid for premium seats and they don't match what you think you've bought, complain on the spot — you may be able to get new seats. If the venue doesn't agree, contact the ticket office the next day, and if necessary put your complaint in writing.
Ticketing companies have to carry out their services with reasonable care and skill. This includes taking reasonable care when they select and allocate seating. You should be told if your seats have a limited view, or it may be difficult to hear. If not, you can ask for a refund.
Consumer Guarantees Act
Selling a ticket privately for more than their original price (often called scalping) is legal.
The exception is Major Events, eg the Rugby World Cup. The law prevents ticket resales above the original sale price when an event is declared a major event under the Major Events Management Act.
Major Events Management Act(external link) — Legislation NZ
How to complain
- Check the terms and conditions of your ticket — this will help you understand what you can expect, for example if the ticket is valid if it has been resold.
- Gather proof, such as emails between you and the seller, bank statements, details of conversations and dates.
- Think about what you will say, such as what you are unhappy about.
- Decide your ideal outcome, for example an apology, money off other tickets, a refund.
During the conversation:
- Stick to the facts — explain the problem in detail and provide any evidence you have.
- Be clear it is a complaint — use the word "complaint" in your phone call, instant message or email.
- Tell them what you want — be clear what will fix your concern.
- Take time out, if needed — if the conversation is getting heated or you need time to think, arrange a time to call back. Explain you need time to digest the conversation.
How to complain