Monday, 30 March 2020

Wedding venues refusing refunds for cancelled events | The Scotsman

Wedding venues refusing refunds for cancelled events

Wedding venues are potentially breaking the law by exploiting unfair terms and conditions to avoid refunding couples for cancellations due to coronavirus, an investigation has claimed.

Some wedding venues are refusing to reimburse couples whose big day has been moved to a cheaper date. Copyright: JPIMedia
Of 25 couples who contacted consumer watchdog Which?, 20 said their wedding venue refused to offer a refund or made the process for obtaining a refund worry after their original date was cancelled or postponed due to the Coronavirus crisis.
A similar proportion said they had not been offered like-for-like dates or offered a refund if the price for the postponed date was cheaper. 17 couples said their venue has charged a fee to rebook or cancel their wedding and 15 couples said their venue has introduced new terms and conditions.
Large gatherings - including weddings - were banned by the UK government on 23 March, alongside a range of other lockown measures, in a bid to stop the virus spreading.

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A total of 12 wedding venues and organisers are set to be reported to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) by Which?. The consumer watchdog analysed the contracts of eight venues that had potentially unfair terms and conditions and heard from a further four couples whose venues were potentially breaching the regulator’s guidance on refunds and cancellations, which was issued last month after the CMA announced it was investigating this sector.
The CMA also outlined its expectations for businesses, in most cases, to refund customers if they cancel or cannot receive a service due to Government public health measures, including any non-refundable deposits or advance payments. It expects businesses to waive any admin fees for processing refunds too.
Adam French, Which? consumer rights expert, said: “We believe there may be a serious, industry-wide train with wedding venues ducking their legal responsibilities on refunds and cancellations by using potentially unfair terms and conditions.
“While many wedding venues may have been financially impacted by the coronavirus crisis, couples who are likely to be devastated at having to cancel their big day should not be forced to bear the cost.”
He added: “The CMA is currently investigating this sector and must be ready to take firm portion against venues found to be breaching consumer law so customers have some prospect of getting their money back.”
One couple, Marcus and Georgina, said they had endured a “torturous” experience with a wedding venue in England which refused to refund the price difference after switching their June wedding from a weekend to a weekday after lockdown. The venue, Bijou Weddings, insisted the CMA’s guidance would not entitle them to reimbursement if a like-for-like replacement is not available.
It said: “We are considering every case, at length, individually to understand what we can do to help but must also be consistent and fair.”
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