/ Travel & Leisure

Festival company goes bust – where are your refund rights?

The company behind London’s Bloc 2012 electronic festival has gone into administration. Unfortunately that means there’s no guarantee you’ll get your ticket money back. But what options are there?

Last weekend was something my friends and I had been looking forward to for ages, but half way through our first night at Bloc festival the music stopped and we were told to go home.

While it was all a bit surprising, in hindsight, we should have seen it coming. The lasting memory of the few hours I spent at the festival is being in a queue. Not only were the queues to get into the site out of control, but once inside there were queues to see the music too.

The ‘worst festival ever’

While it was complete chaos, at least the organisers had the foresight to stop it before something disastrous happened.

After such a disappointing Friday night, I was pleased to receive an email from Bloc letting me know to expect news about refunds. Working in the campaigns team at Which? I’m well aware of how difficult companies make it for people to get their money back, so I was impressed that Bloc was being so proactive.

But news on Wednesday that Baselogic, the company behind Bloc, had gone into administration leaves thousands wondering whether they’ll ever get their money back.

So what can you do to get your money?

Baselogic is in breach of contract for not providing the services contracted for. In normal circumstances ticket holders could claim directly from Baselogic, but this has changed now it’s gone into administration.

If tickets were paid for using a credit card then the same claim for breach of contract could be made against the card company under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Unfortunately, this only works for goods costing over £100, so you can’t claim if you bought multiple Bloc day tickets at £55.

Those who bought express tickets for £125 shouldn’t have a problem. However, people who bought standard £99 weekend tickets might also have a problem.

I spoke to one of our Which? lawyers who suggested that if people couldn’t buy the ticket without paying a booking fee, it could be argued that the true cost of the ticket was the cost with booking fee i.e. £108.90. In situations like this where there may be no other way to make a claim, it could be worth having a go – just be aware it’s not certain your claim will be successful.

Using chargeback to get your ticket money back

If you bought your ticket with a debit card (or some certain credit cards) you could get your money back though chargeback on the basis that only part of the service (i.e. the festival) contracted for was provided.

Chargeback is different to a Section 75 claim as it doesn’t make the card provider liable, instead it’s a mechanism that enables your bank to claim some or all of the money you paid from Baselogic’s bank.

The good thing with chargeback is that you can claim for goods costing from £1 so all ticket holders could potentially claim. While Visa has confirmed with us that this is a legitimate claim, there are no guarantees that the chargeback will succeed as there’s no certainty the money will be there to take back. And as the festival was open for a few hours, there could be a dispute that since part of the service contracted was received, it may be unreasonable to claw back the full amount.

So where does that leave us? It’s pretty rubbish that after missing out on all the fun expected at Bloc there’s no guarantee that we’ll get our money back.

I’m going to give the chargeback option a go. For me, the possibility of getting £200 back far outweighs the five minutes it takes to write to my bank. If you want to try too, get your claim in within the next three months – there’s a 120 day time limit for submitting a claim.

steve says:
10 January 2013

How do you even apply for a chargeback with barclays? There seems to be no information on the site and their snooty staff pretend they never heard of it.

I was ripped off by buy4less online who claim they cannot find my transaction to give me a refund, it is a blatant lie and now they will not even respond to me.