I mentioned yesterday that See Tickets customer support were trying to get hold of me. I spoke to them in the early afternoon. It was their customer services manager and she wanted to apologise for the way I had been treated over my ticket refund. She said that she would be having a word with the support rep who had threatened to ban me from the site if I tried to make a chargeback against them.
Most importantly, she said that she would be happy to give me a full refund for the cost of the ticket and all the extra fees.
So that’s nice. My immediate problem is solved I’m no longer going to be out of pocket for not going to a gig.
But the wider problem still remains. See Tickets haven’t changed their T&Cs. They still believe that it’s fair to retain booking fees in cases like mine. As far as I can see, they made an exception in my case because I caused a bit of a storm on Twitter on Wednesday. And that’s not a solution that scales well.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m no longer convinced that See Tickets are the main problem here. I think that they’re probably just a symptom. They are doing what they are doing because they can get away with it. And they get away with it because the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers has such a weak code of conduct. On the front page of their web site (and in an image, so I’ve had to retype this!) it says:
STAR members comply with a Code of Practice designed to help protect customers. You can be sure that a STAR member will always:
- Clearly identify the face value of any tickets purchased and any additional booking fees
- Refund at least the face value of the ticket if an event is cancelled and the promoter agrees to refunds
- Handle bookings politely and courteously, giving the highest standards of professional service
- Highlight any terms and conditions, including transferability, cancellation and viewing restrictions.
It’s the second of those items that is causing the problems here. A STAR member is only expected to refund the face value of a ticket. And even then, only when the promoter agrees. How is that designed to “protect customers”? Looks to me like it’s designed to protect the profits of STAR members.
So I think I’ll try to have a conversation with STAR. To see if I can get them to admit that their code of practice is, to say the least, disappointing. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get them to change their code of practice so that it does actually protect customers.
Of course, not all STAR members are determined to get away with as much as they can. Some of them go above and beyond STAR’s code of practice. TicketWeb, for example, say this in their T&Cs (point 18):
Occasionally, events are cancelled or postponed by the team, performer or Event Partner for a variety of reasons. Contact us for exact instructions. Unless indicated otherwise in relation to a particular event, if an event is cancelled, ticket holders will be offered seats at any rescheduled event (subject to availability) up to the face value of the tickets or, if the ticket holder is unable to attend the rescheduled event or the event is not rescheduled, a refund. Refunds for tickets purchased prior to the date of the original event will be given up to their face value plus the relevant per ticket booking fee. [Emphasis mine]
So what advice can I give for buying tickets? Well, read the T&Cs carefully. Try to avoid any company that wants to just refund the face value of the ticket. And if you get caught in the same situation that I was in, then my best advice is to write a blog post and kick up a stink on Twitter.