BBB Tip: What to Do if an Event is Canceled by a Pandemic

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Officials are announcing restrictions on mass public gatherings to limit the spread of the coronavirus. While the numbers of how many people may gather at one time vary from state to state, it is causing the immediate cancellation or delay of concerts, major sporting events, theater productions, marathons, fairs, and festivals. This may leave many people who purchased tickets or made reservations well in advanced feeling a little dismayed and wondering what they should do next.

BBB recommends the following tips if this should happen to you:

  • Review the cancellation policy. Visit the venue’s website or contact the business. Given the uncertainty of this situation, each vendor or host is more than likely have their own policy in handling refunds, exchanges or may offer a rescheduling option.
  • Check your credit card company. If you are denied a refund from the vendor and purchased tickets or made a reservation using a credit card, contact the credit card company to dispute the charges.
  • Check with the distributor of the tickets. For tickets or reservations that are purchased online, many refunds, according to the venue’s policy, will be automatically processed to the same card that was used for purchase. Check with the distributor to learn more.
  • Stay home if you are sick. If you become ill or are not comfortable attending an event that is not canceled, stay home. Contact the box office and explain the situation.
  • Review any ticket insurance purchased. If you purchased ticket insurance, review the fine print to see what is and isn’t covered. Understand that the policy may not cover things such as a pandemic and it may be outlined within the policy. The same advice would apply for travel insurance.
  • Contact the vendor. Items such as airline tickets should be dealt with the vendor where you purchased the original ticket from. For example, if the ticket was purchased through Expedia, review and follow the cancellation policy on the website.
  • Have patience. As this pandemic unfolds, it is difficult to tell how long it will continue and what the impact is going to be on everyone from event planners to vendors to businesses and for consumers. If it is difficult to get through to customer service, understand there are probably other people in your same situation.


See BBB’s Tips for Buying TIckets.

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