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UK ticketing regulatory body defends ATG’s delayed refund process

ATG Tickets has been criticised over its refund process while the UK’s self-employed support scheme has been extended and Korean cinemas begin to offer discount coupons…

ATG Tickets

The UK’s self-regulatory body for the ticketing industry has defended Ambassador Theatre Group’s (ATG) ticketing arm after theatre ticket-holders complained about the “lack of transparency” around refunds.

The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers’ (STAR) chief executive Jonathan Brown said it is “working closely” with the company and claims all refund issues have now been resolved.

ATG Tickets has been accused of delaying refunds and failing to communicate sufficiently with customers after theatre performances were cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The company, which said it had handled more than 300,000 inquiries since theatres closed on March 16, said it was “working hard on behalf of producers to move customers to rescheduled performances, encourage them to opt for full credit vouchers or provide refunds”.

However, theatre-goers have bemoaned ATG’s slow refund process and lack of information on how to obtain a refund over a credit voucher. It has also been criticised for not refunding transaction fees, despite its terms and conditions indicating they would not be reimbursed.

Brown said, according to The Stage: “While ATG acknowledge it took them a few weeks to fully establish their refunding processes, we understand they are now up to date with refunds that have been requested.

“There are some outlier issues affecting a small number of bookings that mostly relate to payment processing issues, such as closed accounts, expired cards and more complicated bookings that can’t be dealt with by an automated process.

“Given the scale of their operation and the number of shows, producers, customers and bookings involved, we are certain the indefinite closure of theatres has presented some monumental challenges for ATG, as it has for the entire industry.”

Korean Cinema

Cinema-goers in Korea are being encouraged to return to theatres after the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) began offering discount coupons worth around 60 per cent of ticket prices.

The coupons provide fans with a KRW6,000 ($4.89) subsidy when they buy a ticket from any of the major cinema chains and many of the independent operators.

Ticket prices cost an average of KRW10,000 ($8.15) in normal times, therefore the coupon would represent a saving of some 60 per cent.

The initiative, which kicked off today (Monday), will go live for three weeks and the KOFIC said it plans to provide up to 1.3 million coupons.

Korean cinemas closed down in January due to COVID-19, but have since reopened to low attendance numbers.

UK self-employed

The UK government’s self-employed income support scheme (SEISS) has been extended to cover income for June, July and August.

The initiative, which allows workers to apply for a single grant, was due to end yesterday (Sunday).

The original grant of up to £7,500, which some 2.3 million workers have applied for, has been reduced for the “second and final” grant in August for up to £6,570.

So far, self-employed workers who qualify have been in line for a grant of 80 per cent of their average profits, up to £2,500 a month for three months.

The extension and second lump sum will now only cover 70 per cent of the applicant’s average monthly trading profits.

The news comes as details of the extended furlough scheme were also outlined.

The UK music industry workforce is made of 72 per cent self-employed workers.

Image: David Joyce