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Buying Tickets Online: Consumer Rights, Cancellations, Refunds and Complaints

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 8 Sep 2023 | comments*Discuss
Buying Tickets Online: Consumer Rights, Cancellations, Refunds And Complaints

Shopping around online for tickets can help you find some of the cheapest ticket prices. When buying tickets online you should always have a clear idea of what you're being sold, the full costs and delivery terms. You should also be sure that you're buying from a bona fide source. This article outlines your basic consumer rights when buying tickets online, as well as your rights regarding cancellations, refunds and what to do when you want to make a complaint.

Before You Purchase

When you have a ticket purchase in mind, it's a good idea to shop around online to find the best price. Always make sure that you thoroughly research and check up for any 'hidden costs' such as handling fees. It is also worth trying to purchase your tickets from a UK-based website or well-known UK online ticket agent. This is so that you can be sure that your statutory rights will cover you when you purchase. Remember that just because a company has 'UK' in the company name, or '.co.uk' in the website domain, this does not necessarily mean that it is UK-based.

If you are in any doubt, you can always try contacting the company directly. The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations and E-Commerce Regulations stipulate that the trader must provide their trading address. You should be wary of websites that do not include a UK telephone number. The regulations also require the seller to provide accurate descriptions of the goods on sale - in this instance this would be interpreted as detailing the seat location and type (for example, stalls, box or standing), and obviously the date and location.

All advertising pertaining to the cost of the tickets should not be misleading, or be likely to mislead the buyer. By law, the ticket sellers are obliged to display certain key points of information regarding your purchase, so that you can review them before the final point of sale. At this point all costs, including handling and delivery charges should be made clear and included in the final price. Seating should be confirmed before you purchase. The face value of the ticket should also be provided, but this can be done either in writing or given orally.If your final costs amount to more than £100, you should also consider purchasing your tickets online with a credit card to help ensure for a safer purchase, and provide you with extra protection should the transaction prove fraudulent or problematic. The way to ensure that you are purchasing over a secure server is to look for 'https://' at the beginning of the website address. Many larger ticket sellers will use well-known payment agents such as WorldPay.

Buying Your Tickets from an Online Auction

If you decide to purchase your tickets through an online auction website, the likelihood is that you are purchasing from a private seller. You should be aware that this would reduce your rights, and ultimately your consumer protection. Online auctions are also liable to rather inflated prices, so from an economical point of view may not always be your best option anyway. From a safety point of view your best bet is to check that you have a geographical full address of the ticket seller. Some auction sites may provide extra protection with regards to fraudulent sales or counterfeit tickets, but these are by no means always comprehensive.


In most cases it is worth checking out the trader's terms and conditions with regards to what happens if the event is cancelled. Traders offering tickets for purchase online are subject to a legal commitment to make a refund, or provide an alternative, if the events promoter or producer has cancelled an indoor event.

If you have bought your tickets online then generally you have no cancellation rights if the seller has upheld their part of the 'contract' (for example, posting the tickets out on time). This means that by law, the seller is not required to give you a full refund if you do decide to cancel.


You should be aware that legally, sellers are required to despatch your tickets in good time before the event. If this fails to happen, you should contact the seller directly to seek a refund or compensation. If the seller is not forthcoming, you have a couple of other options. Firstly if you have bought through an online auction site, you can try bringing the problem to the attention of the website owners. The larger auction sites should have a complaints process. You can also contact the Office of Fair Trading to see whether they can take up your case.

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[Add a Comment]
I purchased 2 tickets on viagogo. Put them for sale then few months later reduced the price. Shocked to discover that the same 2 tickets have been sold three times and I was advised to decline two sales and been told by phone consultant that I have to pay the difference of the rejected sales. How can one set of 2 tickets be sold duplicate times? They are not responding to my query, help!!
Burrito - 8-Sep-23 @ 3:18 PM
Purchased through viagogo 8 months later was told the tickets were never transferred an I'm unable to go. I'm wondering where I can take this complaint to as viagogo do their best to avoid dealing with any complaints. I have a recording of an employee lying about my tickets
Jordy - 24-Jul-23 @ 9:00 PM
I ordered limp bizkit tickets last year in march for Brixton academy. It was delayed due to the singers health. Then eventually got a new date. Then it was moved to Wembley due to complications with original venue which is fine. Was contacted by ticket master saying original tickets still valid. Today I have been contacted by ticket master again saying my standing tickets have been cancelled and new tickets have been given to me for seating tickets. It's not what I have paid for. Standing tickets cost more then seating at every gig. I just want to know what my rights are so I can use this against them. I have contacted them and waiting a reply
Fraz - 3-Apr-23 @ 11:09 PM
Oct 2021 I bought 2tickets for Rod Stewart in Nottingham for 16th Nov 2022 The charge was £537.00 we stupidly didn’t check at the time of ordering all the details as we love seeing him in concert didn’t think about the cost However as we printed the ticket just before the concert we noticed the ticket price was £95 each!I feel a fool I don’t suppose we can get a refund?? Viagogo are rip of merchants DONT BUY FROM THEM
Suze - 17-Nov-22 @ 12:03 AM
Hi - I purchased 4 tickets for the Girl From North Country on Broadway for Aug 7, 2021 from Viagogo.As everyone knows they have been canceled and will be reopening on 10/13/2021. Viagogo refuses to refund me stating they have not been “officially notified” of change!! Asked what they need as it is all over the Internet - couldn’t answer me. This is around $550 dollars.We cannot let them get away with this.They are scammers - is there any class action - please advise! Thank you John
John - 9-Jun-21 @ 1:37 PM
Terrible! Dont shop with Viagogo, Only after threatening with legal action / contacting a consumer watchdog 3 times have I even had confirmation that my refund is being processed. They have "cowboys" written all over them, hoping that the customer will just get so frustrated with the (lack of) service and write the money off. As my tickets were nearly £300 there was no chance of that happening!
Mingtor - 31-May-21 @ 2:07 PM
I've been told that distance selling regulations don't apply to tickets (e.g. a 14 day cooling off period) on account of the possibility of the event being within 14 days of the tickets' arrival meaning you could just get your money back after the event etc, but I can't find any physical evidence of this apart fromwhat I was told. Does anybody know about how the cooling off period applies to tickets and could let me know where they found the info?
Leo - 18-May-20 @ 3:59 PM
I purchased three tickets for the Franki Valli concert in Liverpool. Ithought I was buying them fromMS arena. Somehow I ended up purchasing them from Viagogo.I am shocked to find I have been charged £150 more .Ihave contacted then,asking for my money back but no joy.I was misled,but what can I do now?
Milly - 3-Mar-20 @ 10:54 PM
Bought 3 tickets from festicket for Foo Fighters. One wa for my child,when printing them off I noticed that there was an age restriction on them and my kid was too young. I thought this was my fault and hadn’t noticed the age restrictions when I booked so I contacted them and asked for a name change on the ticket as it is the same as an adult ticket. They said they couldn’t do it as it was too late. I then found out later that day that they had changed the age restrictions and hadn’t informed me,I contacted them again and asked for a refund or name change but they won’t reply, does anyone know what my rights are?
Susan1154 - 15-Aug-19 @ 8:26 PM
On May 31, 2019 I looked for tickets for Guelaguetza in Oaxaca Mexico.I found VIAGOGO and was pressured by the site to buy, the cost started in US dollars and ended in Mexican Pesos. VIAGOGO tricked me to buy a ticket 9 times the face value one day before the actual release of the tickets (I learned later that actual release of tickets sale went off June 1) placing messages such as just 2% of the tickets available...I was a fool. Under my economical circumstances, I will have to continue to request for a refund, which I hope someone will help me.
DO NOT BUY TICKETS F - 5-Jun-19 @ 9:03 AM
I live IIB Ireland and I ordered two tickets from Ticketmaster UK for a concert in Liverpool. As they were a gift, I knew that box office collection was not an option so I ordered courier delivery. Ticketmaster have failed to deliver and say that box office collection or transfer to the card of the person going are my only options. That person doesn't have a card so I'm out of options. TM have shown me a clause deep in their terms of sale to say they reserve the right to do this. On this basis they refuse a refund. Do I have any rights to a refund?
Screwed by Ticketmas - 2-Dec-18 @ 1:28 PM
I bought two tickets for a concert ( Van Morrison) at Wrest Park, Beds. They had to be seated as my husband is recovering from major surgery and is unable to stand for any length of time and must avoid being jostled.We paid for seated tickets but, on arrival, we were told that the seats were not available as the crowd had surged forward and had taken all the allocated seats.We asked if the security could help us gain our seats but they just shrugged their shoulders and pointed to the dense crowd surrounding the stage and seated area. Their response was " Sorry, nothing we can do". I have complained to the ticket seller and the event organiser and so far have been offered the difference between seatedand standing tickets.This is irrelevant as we were unable to stand!Also we have been offered VIP tickets for other concerts.Almost all are now finished and next year's offer is unpublished and so I cannot say if this is an offer I can accept.Now it has gone very quiet. Any words of advice?
Jan - 27-Sep-18 @ 12:07 PM
I bought tickets Viagogo. They are scam artists the website is designed to rip you off. Avoid at all costs!!
Tippy - 30-Jul-18 @ 4:10 PM
I purchased 5 tickets on Viagogo to Barcelonav Sevilla match. The match was advertised as taking place in Barcelona. This has now been changed to a neutral venue, which does not suit us as we're on holiday in Barcelona. Viagogo are refusingto refund me, stating the tickets are valid for the new, as yet unannounced venue, or tjat I could resell them on their site.
Unhappy - 21-Jul-18 @ 11:10 AM
Don't buy from Viagpgo!Tattoo park tickets which suddenly went up to £70 (almost triple the face value) on last click 'continue'. Complained but told can only resell for £85 - what's going on. Where is the consumer law to protect this unethical behaviour?!!
Veryupset - 24-May-18 @ 10:23 PM
I bought 2 tickets for a stand up comedy from City Heroes Media - the organisers of the event. Event should have taken place on Ealing Broadway - as per information on the ticket and confirmation email, but after purchase they changed place - Stand up was performed in Balham, at different venue! Nobody informed me about that change, when I called them to complain, they said that this information was announced on local radio, there was poster in the local shops and church... And that they sent me an email explaining that event will take place on different location - never happened. I asked them to prove me by forwarding me email they sent - never happened! What can I do to have my money back?? I arrived from quite far away (out of London) spent all together £100 for tickets and journey and it was utter disaster...
Renata - 25-Jan-18 @ 10:13 AM
I brought 2 tickets to see Metallica at the O2. We were on level 4 which it turned out we were seating above the sound rig so all we could hear was booming and also they did not use any big screens so we could not even see them. I complained on the night to staff and was told there is nothing they can do so I complained to the Axis tickets who said they are only selling on behalf of Live nations who I contacted and asked for a refund due to unreasonable skill or care. They said that no one else has complained about the sound and the band didn't want to use big screens so I'm not entitled to a refund. I have been trying get them to give me details of somebody to escalate my complaint but they are now not responding to my emails. I don't know what else to do now.
Scott - 6-Dec-17 @ 8:00 PM
pip - Your Question:
I purchased 2 tickets via Amazon for a comedy show. Really pleased with myself, I told my partner, who was so happy until I mentioned the date. He had bought me tickets for a Xmas present for the same night. Immediately I contacted Amazon, finding online that they had another date available, same block, same cost but after spending 30 mins on the phone, they tell me they can't change them. Within 10 minutes I had contacted them and there's nothing they can do. Surely there must be a cooling off period!!!!

Our Response:
No, unfortunately there is no cooling off period for events/travel tickets etc. It doesn't look as though Amazon offers a buy back facility, so your only option would be to give them to a friend/family member as a gift or see if they are prepared to give you something in return for them.
OnlineShoppingRights - 27-Nov-17 @ 12:49 PM
I purchased 2 tickets via Amazon for a comedy show.Really pleased with myself, I told my partner, who was so happy until I mentioned the date.He had bought me tickets for a Xmas present for the same night.Immediately I contacted Amazon, finding online that they had another date available, same block, same cost but after spending 30 mins on the phone, they tell me they can't change them.Within 10 minutes I had contacted them and there's nothing they can do.Surely there must be a cooling off period!!!!
pip - 24-Nov-17 @ 9:28 AM
I sadly went to purchase tickets from viagogo. I selected the section I wanted and was immediately facing a countdown timer and tickets were being sold by the second. I selected 4 at £50each. I proceeded to put in my name, pressed continue, my address and email, pressed continue and then it wanted my bank details which did not display any final costs. I did so and pressed CONTINUE. I was then shown the cost and thought that’s a lot more than I wanted to pay £90 each. But sadly I then noticed there was an order number and the sale was complete. I contacted viagogo but they’re impossible to contact and I get the same email each time. I used my credit card who have done a chargeback and section 75 but have had no success. I’m trying to fight it as I don’t have much proof, with key areas of the law. Any help would be gratefully received.
LK - 22-Oct-17 @ 7:18 PM
Murdy - Your Question:
I bought 2 tickets to a stand up comedian show on the first day they were released and got the floor seats I wanted. It was a gift for my brothers birthday. Four months later the ticket agency messaged me to say they had a “Technical Diffculty” and had to change my seat. However the seats now being offered are nowhere near the same quality near the back and up the stairs. They have offered a refund but it’s just ruined the whole process and to buy the same tickets on a resell site I would have to pay 5 times the price for each ticket.Where do I stand.Thanks in Advance Ian

Our Response:
They've offered you a refund, so there isn't a great deal you can do except to try and obtain some addtional compensation. We can't really give any more specific legal advice, you might want to try a solicitor to see if this is a realistic option.
OnlineShoppingRights - 9-Oct-17 @ 3:36 PM
I bought 2 tickets to a stand up comedian show on the first day they were released and got the floor seats I wanted. It was a gift for my brothers birthday. Four months later the ticket agency messaged me to say they had a “Technical Diffculty” and had to change my seat. However the seats now being offered are nowhere near the same quality near the back and up the stairs. They have offered a refund but it’s just ruined the whole process and to buy the same tickets on a resell site I would have to pay 5 times the price for each ticket. Where do I stand. Thanks in Advance Ian
Murdy - 9-Oct-17 @ 9:33 AM
Hello. I booked tickets to Cuba from TravelUp agents. Next day after my purchase I saw news that Zika virus has been reported in Cuba and as I am having fertility treatments virus is a big threat to me so I decided to cancel my tickets. The agents refuse to refund my money. Theirterms and conditions say that if I book individual components from them they will make a booking as an agent for the relevant suppliers own terms and conditions. the supplier is AirCanada and their policy allows free cancellation within 24 hours. What shall I do about it? thanks
elinei - 5-Apr-16 @ 1:36 PM
@frankie. The cooling off period does not apply to tickets for events/attractions etc. When booking tickets you should always check the location of the ticket pick up point or whether the voucher is valid in lieu of the ticket etc. 1.5km is walkable, if the distance had been several miles it could have been considered unreasonable. The queue statement would have been made by the company to warn you of potential queue times, sometimes it can be several hours. Consider yourself lucky that you only waited 15 minutes :-)
OnlineShoppingRights - 21-Nov-14 @ 10:17 AM
I purchased 2 tickets to the Louvre plus booking fee with 365 tickets. I printed the voucher and when in Parisrealised the office address to collect the tickets was 3 kms from my hotel and 1.5 kms from the Louvre.I had assumed the ticket office would be at the Louvre. I cancelled the tickets within 7 days of purchase and 1 day before the ticket date. But 365 offer no refund saying the address is on the website. It is on the website but not obvious that the office is nowhere near the Louvre itself and therefore misleading. It was also misleading to state that queues could be up to 4 hours when we got in within 15 minutes. Do I have any right to a refund? Thanks Francesca
Frankie - 19-Nov-14 @ 10:31 AM
We are absolutely disgusted by the fact that no refunds have been made for the Alt Fest 2014. We had three days concert booked as well as a snooze box booked and it is quite a big amount of money!!!!!! Nothing has been refunded yet. I am thinking about entering into a legal procedure.
issie - 22-Sep-14 @ 9:19 AM
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