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As the industry grapples with a stagnated cash flow, governments in Germany, Italy and Poland adopt legislation to allow vouchers to be offered in lieu of cash refunds
By IQ on 03 Apr 2020
Governments in Italy, Germany and Poland are looking to introduce measures to allow event organisers to offer ticket vouchers, instead of cash refunds, as compensation for cancelled shows.
As more and more events around the world are cancelled and postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the issue of how and when to compensate customers has been much debated.
The increasing uncertainty as to when business as usual will recommence and the inevitable drop-off in ticket sales has led industry associations – as well as representatives in other affected sectors – to point out that an impending cashflow crisis renders typical refund practices obsolete.
The option to offer customers a voucher, worth the original ticket price or more, for future events has been championed by associations across the world, with many also pushing for extension to refund grace periods.
It now appears that some governments are listening to those calls.
Italy’s Assomusica has thanked the Italian government for its measures to support the cultural, entertainment and music sectors, which include allowing the offering of vouchers as a valid form of reimbursement.
The association estimates that, by the end of May, 4,200 shows will have been cancelled or postponed in Italy, representing losses of €63 million in just over two months for the live sector.
“We ask the European Commission, MPs and the Culture Committee to extend this lifesaver to the other countries which, through the introduction of vouchers to replace tickets, allows the spectator not to give up their concert and companies not to go to default,” comments Assomusica president Vincenzo Spera.
“We ask the European Commission, MPs and the Culture Committee to extend this lifesaver to the other countries”
The German government, which recently dedicated a €50 billion financial stimulus package to its creative and cultural industries, is looking into similar measures, with the so-called Corona Cabinet asking the Department of Justice to draw up a law permitting organisers to offer customers a voucher instead of a refund.
Any voucher must be valid until the end of 2021, with organisers obliged to refund the ticket price if the voucher has not been redeemed within this time.
The regulation applies to all tickets for concerts, sporting events and other kinds of shows bought before 8 March.
Managing director of the German Culture Council, Olaf Zimmermann, calls the regulation “an important act of emergency aid”.
“We ask all concert, theatre and exhibition visitors for their understanding of this inevitable measure,” says Zimmermann.
Meanwhile, in Poland, authorities have adopted regulations to extend the refund grace period to 180 days from the date of cancellation and allow organisers to offer a voucher instead of a cash refund, valid until within a year of the day on which the cancelled event was to take place.
All mass gatherings were cancelled in Poland on 10 March, with further restrictions including a ban on gatherings of more than two people and the closing of parks put in place more recently.
In the Netherlands, a number of ticketing agencies are taking matters into their own hands. Ticketers Eventix and Yourticketprovider are offering fans a donation option, encouraging ticketholders to allow organisers to retain a portion or all of the value of the ticket in a show of solidarity. Yourticketprovider is also working on offering a voucher option to ticketholders.
Read more about the great ticket refund debate here.
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