Trips and events are being canceled as a result of the corona pandemic. The Swedish Consumer Agency has noted that in many cases, consumers have been offered gift cards instead of cash refunds. The Swedish Consumer Agency is taking a position on the consumer’s right to get their money back. [The Swedish Consumer Agency’s position can be found here.] The positioning should be of help for consumers and act as a guide for companies on the market. The position is taken in the light of the consumer’s rights under paketreselagen (2018: 1217) and the EU’s four regulations on passenger rights regarding canceled trips. Regarding events, the Authority refers to the Annex to Directive 93/13 / EGG on unfair contract terms (the so-called gray list).
Both companies and consumers are affected by the fact that travel and events are being canceled as a result of the advice of the Public Health Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ advice from travel to reduce the risk of contagion. Many companies have tried to waive consumers’ right to reimbursement by trying to persuade consumers to accept gift vouchers or promise of late arrangement. It is a difficult financial situation for the companies who are forced to cancel events and trips. However, the Swedish Consumer Agency takes a clear position that the consumer has the right to get a refund. Terms in agreements that stipulate that the trader must keep the money paid by the consumer, even though no services have been performed, are unfair when the trader himself terminates the contract in accordance with lagen om avtalsvillkor i konsumentförhållanden (1994: 1512) and point f in the gray list.
The coronavirus and the decisions taken by the authorities as a result can provide a valid basis for canceling an event and thus canceling the agreement between the organizer and the consumer. The starting point for cancellation is that the performance must return, which means that the consumer has the right to recover his money in accordance with 43–44 §§ konsumentköplagen (1990:932) och 29–30 §§ konsumenttjänstlagen (1985:716). The trader can offer the consumer a credit which the consumer has the right to decline in favor of repayment in cash. The Authority adds in its position that if gift cards are offered, they should be valid for ten years in accordance with the rules in 2 §§ preskriptionslagen (1981:130), because a shorter period of validity can be unreasonable given current circumstances and would constitute a major disadvantage for consumers.
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