/ 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..)

Guest
Pete says:
16 July 2012

I called Lloyds TSB today, thinking it was a long shot because I’d paid by debit card. But their chargeback team knew all about Bloc, said that they should be able to issue a full refund this week (2 saturday tickets) under the VISA rules, and that they’d take care of everything for me. I had to email the administrator, however Lloyds said they knew I wouldn’t get a reply and that was just so there is a paper trail.

Obviously it’s not yet confirmed if I’ll get the money back or not, but so far, Lloyds seem to be really impressive here.

Guest
Tony says:
17 July 2012

Anyone got any tips on what you can do if paid for Bloc tickets via Paypal?
Thanks.

Guest
John says:
18 July 2012

I called Lloyds TSB today who were well aware of the issue. They have put the request in for the chargeback and said I should receive the money back in my account in 7-10 days. I’d give them a call now if you haven’t already.

Guest
Rob says:
18 July 2012

well, I bought my tickets through paypal using my debit card. I contacted my bank and they have contacted PayPal. PayPal have sent me an email which is in review ‘Sellers have 10 days to respond to a chargeback. This is due to deadlines imposed by the credit card companies.’ status ‘Waiting for Seller’s Response’

Guest
Vicki says:
19 July 2012

Paypal have started a chargeback claim for us after Nationwide said they couldn’t do a chargeback as Paypal is classed as a direct transaction. They were pretty good about it. Bloc have 10 days to either dispute it or refund it. If they dispute the claim, it will probably go in their favour. But if they do, Paypal will send details of this and you can then go to your bank with evidence from Paypal so that they can release the funds… or something like that? Fingers crossed anyway..

Guest
DunneyLebowski says:
19 July 2012

So, I contacted my bank last week and explained what had happened. It’s an Irish bank so they weren’t aware of Bloc. They said as it’s a paypal transaction they can just reverse the funds. Which they did immediately. They warned me that Paypal could decide to chase me for the money if they decide that I owe it but that’s all they could tell me. Anyway, the money has been in my account for just under a week and no one’s chased me. There’s not even a mention of it in my paypal account. So far…..

Guest
Pegaroo says:
19 July 2012

while the inclusion of a booking fee in this case may get some people there money back
What about a Which? Campaign to abolish booking fees.
the price the ticket is advertised at should be the price you pay
booking fees are just as bad as airline surcharges

Guest

Hi Pegaroo,
We totally agree with you that booking fees should be included in the upfront cost. Our surcharges campaign is not limited to airlines and we really hope to see all companies forced to include their fees in the upfront costs. As you say, the price that is advertised should be the price you pay.

Guest

My flatmate had bought tickets and I told her about Section 75. She got her money back successfully even though she bought 2x £55 tickets (in the same transaction). Very positive!

Guest
Mark says:
24 July 2012

My friend has been able to claim back the tickets she bought for us through Nationwide, but received a notice that the funds may be withdrawn again if they are unable to claim the amount back bloc’s bank. A friend had the same from the Halifax.
Does anyone know about this? and how long we should leave it before spending the money?

Guest
JT says:
25 July 2012

after reading this thread decided to chance my arm and spoke to my credit card company today (Tesco Bank) regarding chargeback (i’d only bought the standard ticket so thought the refund under the section 75 might be a non starter)

they are sending me out a claim form, so will see how my claim goes from there.

Guest
Jay says:
28 July 2012
Guest

Nationwide told me that they didn’t do ‘chargeback’ but sounded more like ‘I don’t know what your on about’. After talking to a supervisor the customer services assistant said a ‘visa dispute’ is all they do and when I asked to speak to the supervisor, twice… she ended up putting the phone down on me!

Guest

I called back and another assistant was more helpful… suggested printing pdf and taking it into the branch to be dispatched with their internal mail- saving about 1 week of the process apparently.

Guest

Hi, was just looking for some help as I’ve heard of a few people in the exact same situation as me who actually got a refund, but I havn’t managed to at all. I paid with my HSBC visa debit card for a weekend ticket back in March and have already called HSBC twice to ask for a chargeback form to fill in but they keep declining my request…??? Any help would be amazing please?

Guest
frogboy says:
17 August 2012

I finally got a refund from HSBC (paid for 2 Saturday tickets by VISA Debit) earlier this week, though I’ve also received a letter saying they might take the money back depending on the outcome of their investigation.

When speaking to them, I found the magic words were “goods not received”. As soon as I mentioned this I was taken more seriously and they were actually verging on helpful. Prior to this, the talk of tickets and cancelled festivals seemed to completely bemuse them into declining my request.

Apart from that, as has been said elsewhere, all you can do is ask to speak to a supervisor. I don’t think you’ll find forms online because the form they sent me was already filled out with my details.

Guest
Mark says:
16 August 2012

My friend got his back from HSBC the week after the event, but they’ve since taken the money back from him. The only thing you can really do is ask to speak to a supervisor, or try and search online for a form.

Guest
Konrad says:
4 September 2012

Thank you for this useful post. I’m on the verge of starting a chargeback request, however I can not retrieve the notice of insolvency of the company as the website “blocweekend.com” is no longer available. Does anybody know where I can find this document or could sent it to me?

Anticipated thanks

Guest

@Konrad, why do you need such a notice? The insolvency doesn’t have anything to do with the reason for the chargeback – all I had to tell my bank was that I bought the tickets but the show didn’t happen and they gave me my money back. The insolvency may of course mean that there isn’t any money for your bank to take back, but Lloyds said in that case they’d pay for it themselves under the VISA rules, so I didn’t have to worry about that.

Guest

I got a full refund for my tickets last week and so far nothing from my bank to say they might claim it back. Think its definitely worth making a claim if you can, it took me about 5 minutes and now I’m £217 richer.

Guest
Piero says:
4 September 2012

Hi there!

I was sharing my experience on factmag, but I guess it might be useful here too. Here are the interesting bits (without the angry ones)… But first: I paid using a Barclay Debit card.

Around 11/07: FYI, I’m just off a phone call with Barclays. Apart from learning that I want to die before having to do that again, I learned that Barclays requires every customer wanting to do a chargeback to prove that the company is under administration. So you need to obtain a letter or e-mail from Bloclogic saying that they are under administration before Barclays will start considering doing anything.

I call bulls**t, but of course, there’s no way around it.

Once you have the proof, here is the number you are to contact if you are a Barclays customer: 01 928 584 412.

***

So further news…

13/07: I call the aforementioned number, get a case opened. I am told I’ll receive a form to return ASAP with copies of this and that.

17/07: I receive a letter from Barclays asking me to fill in a form and provide copies of documents proving the issue.

18/07: I post through my work (daily postal pick up) my ticket confirmation e-mails (they mention I bought tickets for Saturday), a copy of the crowdsurge e-mail reporting the cancellation of the festival, as well as Parker Andrews letters. I’m supposed to get news 10 working days after they receive the lot.

03/08: I call and learn that they only received my letter on the 24/07. Seems like my letter stopped somewhere to dance the Time Warp for a bit… Anyway, I’m told to wait for further news until next week. I decide to wait that much and then some.

13/08: I call and learn that a letter was sent to me on 10/08, the rep offers to read it to me. Basically, I am told to provide proof that I tried to resolve the matter personally with the Administrator/Company and that they wait for my response in 7 days or they will close the case.

I am dumbfunded to see how they are trying really hard – not to protect themselves against people frauding them, I think considering the proofs I sent we are past that – to not have to reimburse people. I was getting hopeful when I saw others reporting they successfully got their money back, but I’m not any more.

***

I find the letter at home on the 14/08, and they ask me to “forward this to us within the next 7 days”, or else they close the file. I am not happy. The next day (15/08), I post the following at lunchtime:

Dear XXX,

I’m writing concerning my chargeback case XXXX, which was submitted to your diligence after I sent my first correspondence to Barclays in mid-July. You requested from me “Supporting documentation or proof showing that an attempt was made by you to resolve the dispute with the Liquidators / Merchant prior to approaching Barclays.” I am not going to forward any further documentation because you don’t require it. Indeed, I have already sent you everything you need to quickly and painlessly get me out of your hair.

As per the Liquidator’s letter I addressed to your department with my previous correspondence (and that you can easily find online), the Liquidator explicitly refuses to answer any individual request from ticket holders (the category in which I fall in in this particular situation). As a reminder, here is the relevant quote from that document:

“While the Company is in Administration, it is beyond my duties to agree or pay unsecured creditors’ claims. Therefore, in order to avoid incurring unnecessary costs, it is not intended to respond to routine queries, including from individual ticket holders.” [emphasis mine]

With this in mind, I’m sure we can agree I have made available to you a document plainly stating that the Liquidator pre-emptively refuses to resolve the dispute with me or any other creditor directly, nor communicate on the matter with me or any other creditor directly. Therefore, could you explain to me why I would need to provide any proof that I tried to personally resolve the dispute? Indeed, I have de facto failed to solve the dispute with the Liquidator – since he explicitly refuses any contact with me – and the document I sent you previously clearly enounces it.

Considering this, I am therefore looking forward to this case not being delayed any further and I expect to receive a chargeback for the full £121 before the end of August 2012. Failing that, I will let more appropriate third parties deal with this case on my behalf, starting with (but not limited to) the Financial Ombudsman.

Regards, etc.

***

As of todayv (almost 3 weeks later), I haven’t received any news and mmmmmmh… yep, no money on my account. I’m calling Barclays this afternoon, if I feel I can remain calm enough.

I hope others have a better experience…

P.

Guest
Piero says:
7 September 2012

07/09: To my great surprise, the money has been wired to my account today.

Happy this is finally out of the way 🙂

P.

Guest
Tony says:
18 October 2012

I made a huge mistake when paid for tickets via paypal. I had some money on my paypal account so my HSBC bank doesn’t know anything about this transaction. Paypal rejected my dispute, as it has been made after 45 days since purchase (I bought tickets in March).

In the bank they told be that direct debit paypal transactions are non refundable.

Does anyone know how to deal with similar situation?

Guest
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.