After Starfields was postponed, questions have arisen regarding the legality of the refund policy offered by the event’s parent organisation, the St Andrews Charity Fashion Show (FS).
FS is a student-run registered charity in St Andrews, which organises both Starfields and an annual fashion show, “the largest and most successful student-run fashion show in Scotland and the first of its kind in the United Kingdom,” according to the group’s website.
With tickets priced at £56 before booking fees, the Starfields festival was initially scheduled for September 10th, the Saturday of Freshers’ Week at the University of St Andrews. However, following Queen Elizabeth II’s death on September 8, the UK entered a ten-day National Mourning period. On September 9, FS posted to social media that Starfields would be rescheduled, and on September 15, FS announced the rescheduled Starfields date — Wednesday, September 21 — alongside their ticketing and refund policies.
“All tickets purchased for the original event are valid for Starfields 2.0. Under the circumstances, limited refunds will be available,” FS posted to Facebook.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, but please bear with us. Please also keep in mind that tickets are transferrable.”
Ticket purchasers were given just one day to make such requests and were told to fill out a form by 16:00 on September 16. The refund form itself stated “FS can only refund 50% of the cost of your ticket.”
The Starfields refund policy appears to clash with UK law and has prompted dismay from numerous St Andrews students who purchased tickets to the event.
The Saint spoke with four different students who were unable to obtain refunds, among dozens who posted to different St Andrews student-related Facebook groups attempting to sell their Starfields tickets.
Mary, in her fourth year, added that “so many people are unhappy” regarding Starfields refunds.
Citizens Advice, a government-funded independent organisation which offers guidance on legal, consumer, and other issues, addresses instances of consumer rights after rescheduled events on their website.
On their website for Scotland, Citizens Advice said: “If you bought your ticket from an official seller, you can get a refund if the organiser cancels, moves or reschedules the event. The organiser will tell you how to get a refund.”
Lily, a fourth-year student, realised she could not attend the rescheduled event, but found she had missed the window to ask for a refund.
“It would have been good if I could have gotten a refund [...] but no because I was later than the date that they said, which is just stupid.”
Other students expressed how the rescheduled event, on a Wednesday during term time as opposed to the weekend of Freshers’ Week, differed notably and clashed with their academic demands.
Kate, a third-year student, said she understood the reasons for rescheduling, but was disappointed with how FS went about it, “While the postponement of the event happened for a very sad reason for the UK, I do think it could have been either better replanned or fully refunded. There was an option to ask for only half a refund.”
Kate added: “The refund policy was unfair. The circumstances of the event changed, and the final event was not what I initially paid for.I paid for an event during Freshers' Week with a particular lineup, different timing and on a different day of the week. The new event was when I had classes and was no longer able to go.”
Chris, in his fourth year, explained how he would have wanted to attend during Freshers’ Week, but could not attend the rescheduled event “in the middle of the week when people have lectures.”
“That’s not the same event, it's in the middle of the week. A lot of people just weren't able to go.”
All students with whom The Saint spoke resold their tickets on Facebook, but at a loss.
“I ended up selling it at about a 20-to-30-pound loss,” said Chris.
“I sold it for a huge loss [...] but it was still better than nothing considering I’d missed the date before which you needed to apply for the refund,” said Mary.
Kate explained: “I sold it for a loss. I bought the ticket from Fixr for around £57 and sold for £25.”
Observing the deluge of students reselling their Starfields tickets on Facebook, Kate added how, “the price plummeted closer to the event.” She claims she saw tickets for sale priced as low as £10.
While the students whom The Saint spoke with perceived the refund policy as unfair, when asked, they explained how they did not question whether FS’s policy was out of line with UK law.
“I think the refund should have been a blanket refund,” said Chris.
However, “in regard to whether or not I thought it was legal [...] I don't know anything about the legality or anything like that.”
When asked by The Saint for comment, FS offered a statement reading: “We worked tirelessly to come up with alternative routes during a challenging time and had to face many hurdles in rescheduling. With the support of the University, we were able to move our event to Wednesday, September 21st.”
“We apologize for the inconvenience that this has caused, but we hope the student body of St Andrews can understand the predicament that we faced. […]"
“Having met FIXR's terms and conditions regarding refunds for rescheduled events, we also had to ensure that we held up agreements with vendors and suppliers,” FS said.
But FS’s refund policy contradicted FIXR’s own “Cancellations and Refunds Policy for Event Organizers.”
In cases of events cancelled, postponed, or rescheduled, FIXR’s website states that event organizers must “offer Customers a full refund and provide a reasonable period for refunds to be claimed (typically 30 days) with clear communication to Customers about how they can claim a refund.”
Per Citizens Advice Scotland, consumers are urged to report event organisers and ticket sellers who “give you wrong or misleading information [...] use unfair terms [...or] engage in unfair activities” to Trading Standards.