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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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Joint approach agreed for Live Nation Germany concert

Live Nation GSA and local authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia have agreed on a joint procedure for the country’s major return to live, Give Live A Chance.

The 4 September concert (originally billed as Return to Live) is scheduled to be the biggest show Germany has seen since March, inviting up to 12,000 fans to watch artists including Bryan Adams, Sarah Connor, Rea Garvey in the all-seated Merkur Spiel Arena.

However, the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the City of Düsseldorf raised concerns about the concert after the country saw an increase in coronavirus infections.

After meeting with Marek Lieberberg, CEO of Live Nation GSA, both parties have agreed to continue to monitor the infection process together and make a final decision by 31 August, at the latest, as to whether Give Live A Chance can take place.

“This is a constructive, trend-setting agreement that gives culture a chance and takes into account the specific development of the infection. Artists, fans and organisers can live with that,” says Lieberberg.

Health minister Karl-Josef Laumann says: “Today [13 August] NRW has an incidence of 13.7. Compared with other state capitals, the state capital Düsseldorf ranks second for infections with an incidence of 18.7.”

“This is a constructive, trend-setting agreement that gives culture a chance. Artists, fans and organisers can live with that”

“As long as the incidence and infection rate are at a high level, a music event of this magnitude will not be able to take place. But, in the sense of the constructive discussions of the last few days and in recognition of the conscientious concept for the arena area, no final decision will be made today.”

Experts from the ministry had previously checked the hygiene measures developed by Lieberberg and the event subsidiary of the state capital Düsseldorf, D-Live.

They confirmed that, subject to a few questions, this is a “technically well-thought-out concept” that adequately takes into account the infection protection requirements for the arena area.

Fans attending Give Live A Chance will have to register their contact details when buying their tickets and agree to the special terms and conditions which includes wearing a face mask and adhering to the social distancing set out in the seated arrangement.

Further measures include larger waiting areas outside the stadium, tiered entry and exit time slots, an alcohol ban as well as regular disinfecting and additional hygiene precautions.

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, previously announced in June that major events in the country will be banned until the start of November unless organisers can prove that social distancing measures and hygiene protocol can be met.

The presale for Give Live A Chance continues for the time being but in the event of cancellation, visitors will be reimbursed the entry fee including the advance booking fee.


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