Ambassador Theatre Group’s ticketing arm has been heavily criticised by consumers for a “lack of transparency” around refunds for cancelled shows.
The organisation has been accused of long delays getting money back to customers, and for failing to actively inform them how they can obtain a refund instead of a credit voucher.
The company has also been criticised for not refunding transaction fees. Although its terms and conditions state they will not be paid back, theatregoers believe they have a moral obligation to refund them.
Elaine Hutchison contacted ATG seeking a refund of £94 for tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera in Manchester. She told The Stage she heard nothing from ATG for more than six weeks, despite trying to phone customer services multiple times. The show had been due to take place on May 9. She tweeted ATG Tickets on May 27, claiming she had heard nothing since April 11.
Hutchison said that since tweeting, she has received a response from ATG, but has still not received a refund.
"I am incredibly disappointed with the level of service I have received, and I think they could have done better, despite the current situation we face," she added.
Ticket holders have also criticised ATG for sending them an email with a credit voucher - which did not mention they were entitled to request a refund if preferred - following the cancellation of shows.
Theatre fan Ben Cartwright, who had 17 bookings with ATG, told The Stage: "I had issues at first with them as there was no transparency as to how you could obtain an actual refund instead of a voucher, so I had to phone up their customer services number and wait almost a month from that call until each of my bookings had been processed.
"I also have a problem with them not giving back any of their transaction fees as part of the refunds - £3.65 per booking, so when you have a lot of bookings it works out to be quite a lot of your hard-earned cash lost."
Ticket holders also highlighted the fact that tickets still appeared to be on sale for singer-songwriter Jane McDonald’s tour - despite it being cancelled.
The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) said it had been "working closely with ATG to help them address issues raised to us by a number of their customers”.
Chief executive Jonathan Brown said: "These have been resolved and we currently have no open customer disputes with them.
"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."
Brown added that ATG’s terms and conditions indicate they will refund per-ticket booking fees but retain the transaction fee for cancelled shows.
"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,” he said.
Brown added that customers with outstanding issues that they have not been able to resolve with ATG can raise them through STAR’s Alternative Dispute Resolution process.
ATG declined to comment.