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Can you get your money back if a festival line-up changes?

Ticket holders want refunds after Placebo and Deep Purple drop out of the Pandemonium Rocks festival.

pandemonium 2024 logo on a ticket
Last updated: 12 April 2024

Cameron Hons bought two tickets to the Pandemonium Rocks festival as soon as pre-sale tickets went live in January. But now he is desperately trying to get a full refund after the festival changed its line-up.

"I was so excited because Deep Purple were the headliners and I had not seen Deep Purple live here for 11 years," he says. Cameron was going to take a friend who had never seen the band play before. 

The festival is set to take place in Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast and Brisbane throughout April. But now Deep Purple and another headliner, Placebo, are no longer playing. In total, six bands have pulled out of the shows, and ticket holders have been left in the lurch.

Along with the band cancellations, venues and dates have also changed, and instead of multiple stages there is now one 

Along with the band cancellations, venues and dates have also changed, and instead of having multiple stages, Pandemonium Rocks will now be "a one stage festival".

Based on these changes, ticket prices have dropped to $190 for all locations except Brisbane, where prices dropped to $165. Customers who bought tickets before the changes say they paid between $250 and $275.

Ticket holders unhappy with proposed remedy

The festival has offered unhappy customers three options for compensation: an additional complimentary ticket; a partial refund of $70; or "exclusive Pandemonium hoodies valued at $100". The organisers say the $70 partial refund equals "the difference between the initial price to the new price" of tickets.

But some customers want a full refund. 

Lachy Wilson, who bought tickets so he could see Dead Kennedys (another band that has dropped out of the line-up), says Pandemonium's refund offer "just doesn't fly with me, for the amount we had to pay for those tickets".

CHOICE spoke to three festival-goers who all said they've had no reply from Pandemonium when they emailed about refunds. 

Pandemonium's organisers Apex Entertainment and the ticket seller Oztix did not respond to our questions. 

Poor ticket sales blamed for changes

In an interview with the national broadcaster ABC, festival promoter Andrew McManus said the changes to the festival were primarily for financial reasons. 

"Our sales, like Splendour [In The Grass] and like all the others, were not what we expected," he says.

"So, we had two choices: either to pull the pin, or redefine it and ensure we still have a great event and a great product and bring it back to one stage. And that was the route we decided to take." 

Australia's festival music scene has seen a spate of cancellations in recent months, mainly due to poor ticket sales.

view of rock concert stage from the crowd

Australia's festival music scene has seen a spate of cancellations in recent months, mainly due to poor ticket sales.

What rights do ticket holders have?

When you buy tickets to events like concerts, festivals, and shows, you have rights about the performance of the service. 

This means that when an event organiser cancels or makes a 'major change', you may be entitled to a refund under the Australian Consumer Law. 

A major change could include when a headline act is changed, or if the date or venue changes. 

Your right to a refund will depend on the reason for the cancellation or change, the nature of the change, and the terms and conditions of the ticket.

Who to contact

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommends that if something goes wrong, consumers should first speak to the event's ticketing agent. 

Then, if you are having trouble securing a refund, the ACCC advises you contact your credit card provider or bank and seek a chargeback.

If the dispute still isn't resolved to your satisfaction after following these steps, you can contact your local consumer protection agency. They can help provide information about your rights, advise you on your options and they may also be able to help negotiate a resolution between you and the event provider.

CHOICE asked the ACCC if it will be investigating Pandemonium Rocks for not honouring refund rights, but it declined to comment.

NSW Fair Trading has received 14 complaints about the Pandemonium Rocks festival since 13 February, the majority of which were received after the changes, says a spokesperson.

A spokesperson from Queensland's Department of Justice and Attorney-General says that consumers should take extra care when buying tickets to events that provide limited contact details, have received lots of complaints or bad reviews, or have not announced or confirmed dates, venues, and performer line-ups.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.