No money for canceled events: consumers have to accept vouchers

              Countless people are demanding their money back for canceled events and vacation trips because of the Corona crisis. That would be a huge loss for companies. To save them from ruin, the federal government is planning a voucher solution. Consumer advocates, on the other hand, warn of interest-free loans.
              Football games, concerts, theatrical performances and vacation trips: events have to be canceled everywhere in Germany due to the corona pandemic. The event agencies are therefore currently receiving many reclaims; Customers who have already bought a ticket for an event that is now going to be canceled will request their money back. The federal government has now discussed a possible solution. The "Corona Cabinet" agreed on Thursday to a corresponding solution, as the German press agency learned from government circles. Instead of reimbursing all ticket prices for events, organizers should be allowed to issue vouchers. This is to avoid that the organizers experience liquidity bottlenecks, especially travel companies often have considerable fixed costs. Since almost no one is traveling due to the corona pandemic, no money is coming in right now. The German Travel Association and the aviation industry were therefore relieved. The agreement comes just in time for many travel agencies and organizers. "The voucher solution is sensible and fair. It gives the companies some breathing space in this difficult situation," said Lufthansa. Now the approval must come quickly from Brussels. The scheme includes all tickets purchased before March 8, 2020. Prerequisite: they must be valid until the end of 2021. If the voucher cannot be redeemed by then, the organizers should be obliged to refund the ticket price. When public life is on again, you don't have to book the first offer – the vouchers can also be redeemed for trips to other destinations or football matches against other teams. The federal government wants to encourage tour operators to also give discounts if a customer uses their voucher. "There is great frustration" The new regulation should also contain a hardship clause if the use of the voucher is not reasonable. If a customer can assure credibly that he would otherwise no longer be able to pay his rent or urgent purchases, the money should be returned now. Consumer advocates are also demanding that final payments are no longer required for trips that are likely to be canceled anyway. "Especially with package tours, it is often about large amounts that people have long saved on," said the head of the consumer advice center, Klaus Müller. "There is a lot of frustration there. If there are crisis-related worries about the job, it quickly becomes despair." Numerous organizers had already offered their customers such voucher solutions. Minister of Culture Monika Grütters is satisfied with the compromise, since it would protect the interests of organizers and visitors at the same time. "The prospect of a cultural experience is preserved just as the organizer is spared real hardship," said the CDU politician of the "Tagesschau". Consumer advocate Müller, on the other hand, has great concerns. Ultimately, citizens were forced to lend to companies for which they did not even receive interest, he criticized. At the same time, however, they themselves might have to take out loans and pay interest on them. "Consumers must not be misused as a quick and additional source of funding for companies," said Müller. Instead, he proposed extending the repayment deadline to the end of April and helping companies with a fund, but before the solution can be implemented by the German government, it has to be approved by the EU Commission. In addition to Germany, many other member states want to do the same at EU level.

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