Your Questions: Can I get a refund after the show I flew abroad for was cancelled at the last minute?
I booked a show in Manchester recently through a well-known ticketing website. I travelled from Ireland to Manchester to see the show but two hours before it was due to start, I received an email saying the show had to postponed because the performer was unwell. When I enquired about a refund, I was told that I wouldn't be getting one but that instead, new tickets would be sent to me for a show two weeks later. However, I cannot travel to Manchester in two weeks' time - nor can I afford to pay for flights again. Am I entitled to a refund here and if so, how do I go about getting it? - Daniel, Terenure, Dublin 6W
A: When you order tickets, the seller is obliged to give you confirmation of your order, including whether there is a right of cancellation and what this means in practice. If something goes wrong, the terms and conditions of your contract tell you what you are entitled to. If you don't have this information to hand, contact the seller or agent - or check their website.
Things to check include if your refund request has to be received within a certain number of days of the original date of the cancelled event; if you have to return the tickets to the point of purchase in a particular way, such as through registered mail; and if ticketholders themselves are responsible for finding out about the new date and time if the event is being rescheduled.
However, you should bear in mind that it is very unlikely that any ticket provider would agree to offer to refund your travel costs in the event that it is cancelled.
Q: I booked concert tickets online a few months ago. When I was booking I noticed an offer to sign up and receive cash back on my next purchase. I gave my bank details and signed up as I regularly buy tickets from the site. I thought the offer was a free sign-up being provided by the concert-ticketing website. After querying an unfamiliar charge on my bank statement, it turns out that I signed up for a paid subscription service with a separate company. Can I get my money back?
Sandra, Tallaght, Dublin 24
A: Under the Consumer Rights Directive, which are the rules that businesses selling online must follow, if you signed up to a recurring subscription service, you should have been given a description of what you were buying, as well as the price and cancellation details. Generally, subscriptions occur as a recurring transaction on your credit card and are not a direct debit. You cannot cancel a recurring charge with the bank (as you can with a direct debit), so you must cancel directly with the company.
This should be done in writing or by email, so that you have proof that you asked them to cancel your subscription. If that doesn't work, you may want to contact your card provider (usually a bank), and look for a chargeback on your debit or credit card account. You should also provide evidence to your bank that you have attempted to contact the company to cancel the subscription but have not been successful - such as a copy of the emails sent to the company. If this still does not work and the company continue to take payments from your card, your last resort may be to cancel your card with your card provider and apply for a new one.
Q: I'm planning on making things easier for myself this year and avoiding the shops, so I'm going to do all my Christmas shopping online. I want to make sure that everyone gets their presents in good time. When should I order by?
Linda, Ballyferriter, Co Kerry
A: You will be glad to hear that your rights are actually stronger when you are shopping online than in-store. New EU laws (Consumer Rights Directive) in place since June 2014, have strengthened consumer rights in this area if you buy from a website that is based in the EU. If you buy something online from a website within the EU, including Christmas gifts, it should be delivered within 30 days, unless you agreed otherwise with the retailer. Some retailers may include a notification on their site of a last day to order to guarantee delivery of goods before Christmas, so check this before you order.
If you order goods by this stated deadline and the goods don't arrive by the guaranteed date, then you are entitled to cancel the order and seek a refund (even if the period is within 30 days). This only applies to websites within the EU, so you need to check the terms and conditions, including the delivery dates and returns policy, before you buy from a website based outside of the EU.
It is good to know that if things go wrong, you may be able to get your money back with Visa, Visa Debit or MasterCard as these offer a chargeback facility. The rules vary, depending on your card provider, but can include getting your money back if the goods are not delivered and you are unable to get your money back from the site. Before you request a chargeback, you should contact the site and ask for a refund. If the site does not refund your money and you paid using a credit or debit card, your card provider (your bank usually) may agree to reverse the transaction. For details of the information you are entitled to before and when your online order is delivered and your rights when buying online, check out www.consumerhelp.ie.
Q: I bought a glass table from a well-known retailer six months ago. My daughter was finishing her lunch recently and the bottom part of the table made of glass fell out and broke. The retailer is saying that the damage was caused by excessive force being applied to the table and is refusing to give me a refund. I don't want a replacement as I don't trust that another table from them will be safe. What are my rights in this situation?
A: Businesses are obliged to place only safe products on the market. If a business becomes aware that a product it placed on the market is unsafe and poses a risk to the health and safety of consumers, it must remove the product from sale or commence a repair programme and inform the Competition and Consumer Protection Commisssion. As you are unhappy with the replacement option offered, you should make a formal complaint to them in writing. Alternatively if you have a guarantee, you may have other options open to you. A guarantee is a commitment from the manufacturer, confirming that it will repair or replace an item if something goes wrong within a certain amount of time after you buy it. However, it is very important to remember that a guarantee does not replace your consumer rights and you should make sure the retailer is aware that you know this. If you are still unhappy with the outcome, you can consider using the small claims process - as long as the claim does not exceed €2,000.
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 'Your Questions, The Sunday Independent Business Section, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1'.
While we will endeavour to place your questions with the most appropriate expert to answer your query, this column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.
Sunday Indo Business