Expert gives Garth Brooks refund advice as Haass intervenes

Dr Richard Haass, former US diplomat
Dr Richard Haass, former US diplomat

A consumer expert has given refund advice to Garth Brooks fans – while the scale of the debacle has even prompted US diplomat Richard Haass to offer tongue-in-cheek mediation.

Speaking on social media site Twitter last night, Dr Haass, who chaired the failed talks on flags, parades and the past at Stormont in December offered his services to break the deadlock over the concert fiasco.

He said: “Big #GarthBrooks fan. Will consider mediating in exchange for 2 pina coladas.”

While his intervention brought widespread mirth on Twitter, today many will be looking at how they might recoup significant travel and accommodation costs, all five concerts having been expected to bring up to e50m to Dublin.

Translink advised yesterday that it will be “refunding customers who had booked to travel with us to these concerts on our special coach and rail services” and will be contacting customers in the coming days.

Ticketmaster said it is working on a plan to make the cancellation process “as simple and convenient as possible for customers” and will publish details today.

Jimmy Hughes, deputy chief inspector of Trading Standards, said fans should by entitled to money back for tickets – but that recouping hotel or travel costs may be trickier.

“We haven’t had anything similar to this before in the south of Ireland, or indeed from here,” he said.

Asked what the upshot is likely to be for consumers, he said if shows simply do not happen then there is a guaranteed right to get ticket money back.

For travel and accommodation bookings, refunds should be available – but only if the bookings had “some kind of connection with the concert”.

For example, this could include travelling on a bus laid on specially for the gig, or a hotel booked as part of a package.

But he said “if you simply booked a hotel or travel, I have awful bad news for you – you don’t have the rights”.

When it comes to compensation for inconvenience or time lost from work, that would be “exceptionally unusual”, he said, but recommended consumers take private advice on this if they wish.

The promoters had previously been asked why 400,000 tickets had been sold before Dublin council had given permission for any of the gigs.