Booking event tickets

Your rights when it comes to event tickets.

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If a show is cancelled, postponed or your "good" seat turns out to be lousy, what are your rights? We explain what you can do.

A ticket is a contract between you and the ticket seller. The seller has to clearly display or notify you of the terms and conditions attached to the ticket before you buy it.

A seller can't rely on terms and conditions that are only printed on the ticket, unless you were given a reasonable chance to read them beforehand.

Your rights

The show is cancelled

You’re entitled to a full refund of the ticket price, plus any booking fee and ticket insurance, from the ticket seller.

If you’ve bought travel insurance, check your policy to see what it provides if you have to cancel your travel bookings.

If you bought a package deal – say, a travel-and-ticket combo – the seller of that package is responsible for giving you a refund.

If promoters cancel a show because a performer is ill or they can't sell enough tickets, or for some other reason, they’re not required to compensate you for other costs such as airline tickets or accommodation.

You'll need to contact the airline or hotel about a refund or credit. Depending on the company's cancellation policy, you may have to pay a fee.

If you’ve bought travel insurance, check your policy to see what it provides if you have to cancel your travel bookings.

The show is postponed

If the new date doesn't suit, you’re entitled to claim a refund of the ticket price. The only exception would be if the postponement was allowed for and clearly explained before you purchased: for example, an outdoor event was held over to the advertised "rain day".

My seat was double-booked

If the ticket seller has mucked up and double-booked your seat, and can’t offer you a suitable alternative, you’re entitled to a refund and compensation for any reasonably foreseeable consequential losses, such as parking at the venue.

If the venue offers, and you accept, a seat that costs less than what you paid, you’re entitled to a refund of the price difference.

The venue wouldn't let me in

If you’re refused entry but have a valid ticket, have abided by the rules and given no indication you might cause trouble, you’re entitled to a refund and compensation for any reasonably foreseeable consequential losses.

They dropped the star

Many shows are marketed around several featured “star” acts. If one of the headline acts advertised for the event drops out and you no longer want to attend, you’re entitled to a refund.

The "A Reserve" seats were useless

If you find yourself in this situation, complain immediately. You may be able to be reseated.

Ticket agents must carry out their services with reasonable care and skill.

If not, ask for a refund. Some venues can arrange this on the spot. Otherwise, contact the ticket office and, if necessary, put your complaint in writing. If neither the ticketing agent nor the promoter is forthcoming with compensation, take your case to the Disputes Tribunal.

The definition of an "A Reserve" seat can leave a lot to be desired. Promoters may hold back seats between "A Reserve" and "B Reserve". If booking numbers are good, they’ll then be sold at the "A Reserve" price. If not, they’ll be released for sale at the "B Reserve" price.

In our view, each grade of seating should be superior to those cheaper than it. You should be able to see and hear the entire show well from an "A Reserve" seat.

Before you buy "B Reserve" or "C Reserve" seats, ask what you’ll be able to see. If you can't see as much as you were told, ask for compensation.

I bought a ticket privately for more than the face value, after tickets had sold out from the official seller. Will I still be able to get into the event?

Selling a ticket privately for an inflated price (often called scalping) isn’t illegal. The only exception is where an event is declared to be a “major event” under the Major Events Management Act. However, this has only happened for a few sporting events.

If you buy privately, be aware ticket agents often have terms and conditions stating that if they’re aware the ticket has been scalped, the holder will be refused entry. Make sure you check this before you buy.

Be extremely wary of buying from ticket resale websites. Our research has found major problems in this industry.

Ticket sellers' liability

What if the ticket seller denies liability?

Ticket agents have obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act to carry out their services with reasonable care and skill.

This includes using reasonable care and skill in selecting and allocating seats, and advising consumers of any limitations on what they will, or won’t, be able to see and hear from those seats.

We also expect ticketing agents to ensure that more expensive seats are indeed better than cheaper ones.

Our campaign against ticket resellers

Our campaign against ticket resellers

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Our campaign against ticket resellers

Hundreds of consumers are being ripped off by ticket resale sites such as Viagogo. Our investigation with Australian consumer group Choice identified inflated prices, hidden fees and misleading sales tactics as major problems in the ticket resale market.

Learn more

Got a problem?

Got a problem?

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Got a problem?

The Consumer Advice Line is available to all our members for support on any consumer-related issue. Our expert advisers can explain your rights and help you resolve problems with a retailer.

Contact us now

Member comments

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Carol J.
22 Nov 2019
Tciketmaster tickets and poor venue maps for seat locations

Ticketmaster state they provide interactive maps showing layout & seat locations but the Mt Smart venue map for Elton John is a PDF only, with blocks shown but not rows or seat numbers. There is no key to identify area pricing splits and nothing to inform about how rows and seats are set out i.e A being the front row etc. When I rang Ticketmaster, I was informed by the call center that "this is the only map the promoter has supplied" and that there was no interactive map. They offered to tell me over the phone approximately where the seats were but I don't think this is good enough. Ticketmaster state in their FAQs that they supply interactive seat maps and for them to say they weren't given one is a pathetic excuse. Likewise, how can you work out the "value" of your seat if you really don't know what you're getting, let alone dispute that your $338 ticket at row F 1-2 is so far off to the side that you don't get the view you thought you'd paid for. Not even "Its a little bit Funny". Sorry Elton, your promoters are letting you down by this slack service at Ticketmaster.

Maree G.
02 Feb 2018
Neil Diamond ticket refunds

Anyone else having problems getting a FULL refund? Ticketek say they will refund insurance paid where applicable (I note they now say 'where relevant'). I've had the ticket price refunded but not the insurance of nearly $50 and they are not replying to my emails.
Anyone else having issues??