Sweden rules vouchers are not valid form of compensation
Sweden’s National Board for Consumer Disputes (Allmänna reklamationsnämnden, ARN) has declared that ticketholders are entitled to a cash refund for any events cancelled or postponed due to Covid-19.
The government agency has declared that organisers that have been forced to cancel or move events due to coronavirus-related restrictions cannot “avoid having to repay [the] money” unless a contractual condition states otherwise.
The principle of force majeure, says the ARN, does not exempt companies from the obligation to repay the cost of the service that has not been delivered, but rather applies to limiting liability.
“Anyone who does not get the agreed output, e.g. the opportunity to participate in an activity or to go to a concert, is therefore basically not obligated to pay for it,” comments ARN chairman and CEO Marcus Isgren.
In many countries in Europe, including Germany, Portugal and Italy, concert organisers are being allowed to offer ticket vouchers (ie credit) in lieu of cash refunds for cancelled events, as promoters warn that mass refunds may well lead to bankruptcies.
“Anyone who does not get the agreed output is therefore not obligated to pay for it”
However, ARN states that offering customers a voucher to attend the same event on a different date is not a valid form of reimbursement, as the chosen date “is usually crucial” to the consumer’s decision to buy the ticket.
“It is therefore not possible for the organiser to compel [the consumer] without their consent to accept that the tickets will be valid for a corresponding event another day,” says Isgren.
Despite ARN’s announcement, Joppe Pihlgren, head of Swedish live music association Svensk Live, says many fans “want to support concerts and organisers” and would rather wait until they can attend the event, than get their money back.
“As an industry we need the information on how and when we can restart,” Pihlgren tells Swedish publication Västerbottens-Kuriren. “I understand it is difficult, bu we need to know so we can plan ahead. This is essential for our operations.”
Unlike the vast majority of European countries, Sweden has kept some of its economy, such as restaurants, bars and shops, open throughout the coronavirus crisis. The government has placed a capacity limit of 50 on live events, leading to the cancellation of Way Out West, Lollapalooza Stockholm and Sweden Rock.
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