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Booking fees in the dock in Germany

Verbraucherzentrale NRW, the Consumer Advice Centre of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in Germany, has brought legal action against CTS Eventim over the ticket agency’s non-refunding of booking fees on events cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Verbraucherzentrale sued Eventim in Munich after claiming to have received “massive [amounts of] complaints” from consumers in the state who received ticket money back less the booking fee. The cancelled shows were organised by a various promoters which had “commissioned Eventim to reimburse the ticket costs for cancelled events”, according to Verbraucherzentrale NRW, the North Rhine-Westphalian branch of Germany’s network of 51 consumer organisations.

The case reached the First District Court of Munich (Landgericht München I) on Wednesday 9 June, with both the Consumer Advice Centre and CTS Eventim claiming victory – the former because it secured a change to Eventim’s terms and conditions on ticket refunds, and the latter because the judgment confirmed that the promoter is responsible for overseeing ticket refunds, while it had dispensed with the T&Cs in question in October last year.

Wolfgang Schuldzinski, CEO of Verbraucherzentrale NRW, says the Consumer Advice Centre’s position is that, “in a large number of cases, Eventim wrongly withheld sums of money instead of repaying the entire ticket cost to consumers”.

The ruling confirmed that the ticket seller is “neither obliged to reimburse the ticket price nor the advance booking fee”

Following the court judgment, “if Eventim was commissioned to repay the ticket cost in the event of cancellations, those affected can now request Eventim to pay the outstanding amounts [the fees],” adds Schuldzinski. “This is a great success.”

CTS Eventim, meanwhile, welcomes the court judgement as a “clarification” that for postponed or cancelled events, “the organiser alone is always the contact point for ticket buyers” as opposed to the ticket agency.

According to Eventim, the Landgericht’s ruling confirmed that the ticket seller is “neither obliged to reimburse the ticket price nor the advance booking fee”, which is the responsibility of the concert organiser. CTS Eventim CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenbgerg, who says his company should never have been the defendant in the case, criticises the lawsuit as nothing more “PR for their own ends” by Verbraucherzentrale NRW.

Additionally, the court found that tickets for shows which have been postponed – as opposed to cancelled outright – remain valid for the rescheduled events, according to MusikWoche. In Germany, a ticket voucher scheme allows promoters to issue vouchers for rescheduled events in lieu of cash refunds.

Both sides have a month to appeal the court’s verdict, which is not yet final.

 


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Non-profit ticketer Humanitix partners with Facebook

Humanitix, a ticketing startup donating all profits from booking fees to charity, has announced an event ticketing partnership with Facebook.

The integration of Humanitix with the social media platform means users can simultaneously launch events on both platforms.

“It’s a really big deal for us because it takes a long time to get an integration like that over the line with Facebook,” Humanitix co-founder Joshua Ross told Pro Bono News. “Hopefully there’ll be more to come in terms of the opportunities to partner with them.”

Sydney-based Humanitix, founded in 2016 by Ross and Adam McCurdie, directs all profits from booking fees – 4% transaction price plus AUD$0.99 – to educational programmes in Australia and overseas.

The ticketing service has donated over AUD$380,000 (USD$259,000) to charity and processed more than AUD$9 million ($6m) in ticket sales.

“There’s billions of dollars in these booking fees and no one likes them but event organisers put up with it because they need to do it,” explains the Humanitix co-founder.

“We think there’s a massive opportunity in ticketing, where fees can be more modest, and you can have the best of both worlds”

“Our objective isn’t to make booking fees zero, it’s to solve inequality through education programs. But we think there’s a massive opportunity in ticketing, where fees can be more modest, and you can have the best of both worlds.”

Last year, the company received AUD$1 million ($682,000) in grant funding from the Google Global Impact Challenge and a $1.2m ($819,000) grant from the Atlassian Foundation.

“Humanitix has become the fastest growing ticketing platform in Australia and New Zealand,” comments Australian communications and arts minister, Paul Fletcher. “It’s great to see Facebook getting behind them. This support will help Humanitix to keep on with its mission to make a difference in our community.”

The ticketing service has worked with the likes of Sydney Youth Orchestra, UN Women and Football Federation Australia, the Grounds of Alexandria and Illawarra Folk Festival. Most events currently serviced by Humanitix have a capacity of under 20,000, although the platform is capable of catering for larger events.

Humanitix operates in Australia and New Zealand, with plans to expand to the United States within the next year.

 


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