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COVID-19 Cancelled or deferred weddings, receptions, & other events

I am having an issue getting a refund from our wedding venue. We were getting married the 16th May 2020 and had a contract signed for that date for a wedding package of 60 people. Due to the new restrictions the venue has been closed and is now unable to provide the service we signed for but has refused to refund our money which is over $8000. The have offered to reschedule but with limited restrictions of when. Their terms and conditions say its non refundable but the contract was also for the 16th of May 2020 for 60 people so if they cannot provide the service and I am not choosing to cancel, am I entitled to a refund?

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Welcome to the .community @jessicastark,

Choice published guidance for cancelled events (eg concerts and similar), not quite your predicament. It may or may not be instructive.

This page from the ACCC also misses your problem but again might be useful.

The trend for events is that the ACCC ‘expect’ you should receive a refund for those specifically addressed. I suggest you contact them as well as your state fair trading organisation, but…

Unfortunately, the most salient text is “Where the cancellation is because of a government ban, the consumer is unlikely to be entitled to a refund under the Australian Consumer Law and their rights are determined by the terms and conditions of the agreement.”

Considering your chosen venue is prioritising their money rather than doing the right thing by their now captive customer under the circumstances, it might be appropriate for you to name them so others can be aware of their business ethics under unusual circumstances.

Perhaps a Choice staff or another member can add something relevant to your particular circumstance?

Please let us know how you go.

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Thanks, I have contacted both the ACCC and submitted a complaint with Fair Trading. Whilst I understand the terms & conditions say no refund the contract was also signed for a wedding package for the 16th of may 2020, so if they are unable to provide that service how can the cancellation policy apply. My fingers are crossed!

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If you paid by credit card, ask the financial institution to reverse the transaction (refund) as the service will not be delivered.

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My wedding band is trying to charge us a rescheduling fee due to my wedding having to be moved. I didn’t ask for a refund of my deposit but I wasn’t expecting to pay more due to a forced government cancellation.

Can they do this?

To clarify, I am by no means an expert on such matters. (I suspect you will have a plethora of more factual advice in the near future) I would agree strongly that you should not pay a rescheduling fee. For the same reasons, a refund of the deposit may even be in order. If the cancellation was not made by yourself, the band would have had to cancel anyway for the same reasons. Furthermore, the implication is that you could charge the band a rescheduling fee for the same reasoning they wish to charge yourself. Hopefully that was not totally nonsensical and will provide some moral support in the interim. (until the Cavalry arrives)

Welcome to the .community @Abbyy,

That is indeed over the top under the circumstances. I moved your post to this thread because there are all sorts of issues coming up regarding weddings under current restrictions.

That sounds more than reasonable.

Always check your contractual T&C be they hardcopy or on a website to see if they cover current events; if so it makes it easier; if they do not there are a few guidelines in the links and replies above that should be helpful.

If they are hard edged and it cannot be amicably resolved it would be worth letting others know the band’s name so everyone understands their business ethics when the unexpected happens.

Good luck getting it sorted, and please let us know how it goes.

Another approach might be to insist that they turn up and play as agreed, and if they don’t/can’t then they need to refund your money.

The venue will no doubt be close, so they won’t be able to get in to play therefore they will need to refund.

Seriously now; did you use a wedding planner? If so, talk to them naming the band, and ask if they can help. Also if you paid by credit card, ask the financial institution to reverse the transaction (refund) as the service will not be delivered.

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I thought about suggesting that, but if they did turn up and played even at the front gate, they might be entitled to keep their entire fee.

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I expect that it will be up to the business to determine how they approach the current predicament that everyone finds oneself in.

As I outlined here, for our own business which has considerable cancellation booking losses (I try not to think about it), we have taken an approach where it is no-one’s fault the situation we are in and as a result, we shouldn’t be penalising a customer for something outside their control. It is worth noting that our cancellation policy would allow us to charge the customer for their cancellation…we have temporarily amended our policy to ensure that we have happy customers (and hopefully will stay with us in the future when things return to normal).

This is the wording we have sent to our customers:

We would like to let you know that we have made a temporary adjustment to our cancellation policy due to COVID-19. If for some reason you are unable to travel due to restriction imposed by government to control COVID-19, please let us know immediately on *** and we will cancel the booking with no penalty.

I expect that other businesses will treat their customers differently and will adopt their cancellation T&Cs strictly as written. These business will be judged by their customers who can’t fulfil their obligations due to matters outside their control (government bans or what is called a force majeure event)…and future customers will also judge them on how compassionate they are in the circumstance that prevail.

An avenue worth exploring it to let the business know that you will write a factual online comment about the experiences with the business and how you beleive that you have been treated unfairly when the cancellation is outside your control and the business can’t legally deliver the required services due to circumstances outside their and the customers control (when other business have taken the initiative to bend their cancellation policies - airlines are another example). This may prompt the business to reconsider its cancellation policy.

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