On a website where I can buy tickets for an event, it says that there will be no refunds whatsoever unless the event is cancelled, and that even if they do cancel it, that the refund I get will only be for the base ticket price and won't include the service charge I paid. The first half of that seems perfectly reasonable, but the second half does not. Wouldn't I be entitled to a full refund if I paid for something that the seller didn't ever give me?
Are you entitled to a refund of service charges when an event is cancelled?
You might be, in which case your claim would be against the entity(-ies) responsible for the event and/or the one(s) that cancelled it (note that these are not necessarily the same entity). Generally speaking, the refund policy to which you as customer agree[d] when buying the tickets protects the intermediary.
The terms of the agreement likely shed light on the relation between the customer and the defendant(s). This, perhaps combined with other circumstances, will determine the applicable legal theory(-ies) such as contract, quasi-contract, or tortious interference with relation. Under these legal theories, defendants can be liable regardless of whether they profited from plaintiff's loss. That is why a claim of unjust enrichment might not be viable.
Striking the agreed refund policy would require proof of intermediary's bad faith. That is because under US law the covenant of good faith and fair dealing is implied in all contracts. If cancellation stemmed from intermediary's negligence, the facts of the case would help deciding whether the policy is stricken or whether the intermediary is liable on other legal grounds.
You do buy two things:
- The ticket from the show organization
- Them handling your order, mailing the ticket and registration of it with the show organization
The cancellation doesn't remove the service rendered, which is covered by the service charges.
Even with the ticket voided, you have to pay the service rendered already.
Under the Australian Consumer Law, services come with consumer guarantees, which include that they must deliver the results agreed and be rendered within a reasonable time.
If the event is rescheduled within a reasonable time, then they have fulfilled that guarantee. If the event is cancelled, they haven’t.
If a business breaches a consumer guarantee, you are entitled to repair, replacement or refund. For a cancelled event, only the latter is applicable.
Further, stating “no refunds” when there is a statutory right has been held to be misleading and deceptive conduct. See ACCC v Valve.