/ 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.

Comments
Guest
frogboy says:
13 July 2012

I paid for two (Saturday) day tickets to BLOC on my VISA debit card supplied by HSBC. I phoned HSBC yesterday asking how to go about making a chargeback request and I was told that chargeback was not possible in this situation, because the festival didn’t go ahead due to “rain” which is an act of God. Those following this story will know that there wasn’t any severe weather during the festival and BaseLogic themselves have never stated that as being the reason for cancellation.

So where does that leave me? Are HSBC wrong for not letting me submit a chargeback request?

Guest
Mooky says:
13 July 2012

I too paid for tickets on a Visa Debit card with HSBC, but for the Saturday which was cancelled. I phoned the bank on the on the 11th and said the company had appointed an insolvency administrator and they would not be able to deliver the good/services paid for. The bank seemed to have a difficult time understanding the concept of buying festival tickets and generally were pretty poor, one the verge of being rude at one point. However, with calm persistence and repeatedly asking them to start a chargeback they agreed to send the necessary forms to start the process, advising I’d need a letter of insolvency to start the claim (I think the bloc website now has sufficient PDFs for this purpose).

I also asked HSBC if the forms could be emailed to speed things up, but no such luck and the post hasn’t turned up yet. Modern banking….

Anyway, I am fully expecting that due to the slow movement of HSBC any available funds will have long been hidden/frozen and there will be nothing to claim against such that I’ve lost my money like so many others. However, at least HSBC are going through the motions for me, albeit very very slowly.

Guest
frogboy says:
20 July 2012

A follow-up to my original post attempting to get a debit card chargeback on this…

I contacted HSBC again and spoke to somebody who knew nothing about the Bloc fiasco. She seemed rather confused that I’d want to try and get my money back in such a situation and was more interested in trying to give me a savings account, but eventually she agreed to put me in contact with the department that deals with this.

They contacted me today to take details and have said they will send the forms to me. So hopefully I will at least be able to make a claim, even if it might ultimately come to nothing.

Guest

Ive asked just for a chargeback form twice very very politely, and calmly and nothing…

Guest
AK says:
15 July 2012

I agree with the comments of mooky above.

If the banks (in my case HSBC) persist on slow action regarding proceeding with chargebacks/disputes/whatever they want to call it, then surely we will be able to take it to the financial ombudsman for direct claims against the banks for not dealing with the situation in a timely manner. Time is of the essence in such situations. The banks slow action, and unwillingness to get the ball rolling will result in our financial loss, which could have been avoided.

Guest
Bloc Refunds says:
15 July 2012

Hi everybody, some people have put on a facebook page called BLOC REFUNDS to exchange information and support each other on getting refunds and hopefully, also information sabout BLOC failure… join us!

Guest

There appears to be some positive stories about chargebacks, but other banks are being more difficult. Anyone have any stories of how they’re getting on with refunds?

Guest

Is the fb page still there? do you have a link handy? (well.. i know.. a month later..)