What Should You Do If The Event You Paid For Was Not What Was Advertised?
There's nothing more frustrating than going to an event that wasn't quite what you had imagined it would be.
And while it can feel like a huge letdown, it's even worse when the event is not what the ticket promised either.
This week, basketball fans were left fuming when an exhibition match between the Boomers and Team USA saw keen punters fork out hundreds and even thousands for prime tickets, only to be left with an obstructed view and have advertised players not show up.
The backlash was so strong, some lawyers suggested a class action could be on the table.
But how likely is this, and what are punters' rights when it comes to events which don't meet the promised expectations?
What Are YOu Actually Paying FOr?
Melbourne-based solicitor in private practice and adjunct professor at RMIT's School of Art Dr. Mark Williams said resolving issues where live events are concerned can be really complex.
"When it's a really, really big game the economics of it starts to get really difficult because it costs a small fortune to stage an event like this and just to try and make a profit, you're going to have to sell a certain amount of tickets," Williams said.
He said any compensation would come down to what customers were actually paying for and that itself had a lot of parts to it-- the seat itself, the view or a premium level of comfort?
"It ranges from: are they going to keep you safe to what's the quality of drinks at half-time going to be like".
Williams said some of these parts can be figured out by looking at the terms and conditions of the tickets, but of course, there is no 'blanket disclaimer' that will remove all liability for organisers.
The question of what's considered 'reasonable to expect' is also an issue.
"When something is advertised as a premium product and if you end up with a hard bench or a plastic chair that when you sit in you actually can't see the ring, it should have been advertised as restricted seating," Williams said.
"Here, the normal expectation of a punter is that you are going to have a great view".
Williams explained there is also an element of "buyer beware" for live events -- that it could very well just be a dud or boring match.
"That's a risk that most consumers are willing to take, and also a risk any promoter or producer runs as well.. that the match is going to turn out to be a fizzer".
What Can Customers Do?
Williams said the first and best practice for any unhappy customers would be to try and get a ticket refund, adding that even when purchased online, websites would have a refund and complaints procedure in place.
"It would only be then that one would go to ACCC or Fair Trading," he added.
"The Australian Entertainment and Sporting Industries are really interested in trying to give consumers a good experience and it is never good for the industry when something like this occurs".
The ACCC issued similar advice, saying, in a statement to 10 daily that ticketholders who wished to seek a refund should first contact the promoter, or their ticketing agency.
"If they are unable to resolve their issue with these companies, report the issues to the ACCC," it said.
"We’ve now added to that investigation whether or not consumers have been misled over the seating and the quality of the seating," ACCC chairman Rod Sims also confirmed on Friday.
The Marvel Stadium seat debacle is certainly not the only event that's received backlash from unhappy customers in recent times.
Last year, punters at the RNB Fridays Live show complained of huge lines, hour-long waiting times for bars and bathrooms, causing them to miss acts, while this year hundreds were left disappointed at Vivid Sydney where fans were unable to see international singer-songwriter FKA twigs because the stage was too low.
Williams said that while consumer affairs authorities would definitely be interested in what occurred at Marvel Stadium, it's rare for class actions to be taken to court for similar incidents.
These are the sorts of thing the consumer affairs take seriously but it's relatively easy to get a result on because they are high profile and the promoter's reputation is at stake if they ever want to stay in business.
On Friday, Basketball Australia and TEG Live issued a joint statement about the public slamming of their event.
They said they received "strongly positive" feedback from the 51,000 attendees, but acknowledged there were some spectators who felt their seats did not meet expectations.
"Of the 11,000 fans who had purchased floor seating to last night's game, only 200 people were located," the statement said.
"They were relocated promptly and without issue and just two refunds were requested".
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