Crowds appeared to be having a blast on the third day of the 25th Annual Byron Bay Bluesfest held at Tyagarah near Byorn Bay, 2014.
Crowds appeared to be having a blast on the third day of the 25th Annual Byron Bay Bluesfest held at Tyagarah near Byorn Bay, 2014. Marc Stapelberg

Bluesfest row: Music fans furious over front row seats

BLUESFEST'S decision to release an additional batch of tickets last week, granting front row access to two stages, has angered some fans, but there is some conjecture over what, if anything, they can do about it.

The arrival of premium tickets at Bluesfest could see many fans who have pre-purchased, a few rows further from the front. One ticket holder, who requested to remain anonymous, called it "an incredible kick in the guts for those of us who have paid off our full price tickets over the year".

The newly released tickets allow access to front row seats on the Mojo and Crossroads stage for an additional $300 per stage, per day.

According to a spokesperson from NSW Fair Trading they may have recourse for complaint under Australian Consumer Law (ACL) . This does not guarantee a result, however, as Bluesfest also have a clause in their ticketing terms and conditions which might negate this.

ACL provides that: "a person must not make a false or misleading representation with respect to the price of goods or services, nor concerning the existence, exclusion or effect of any condition, warranty, guarantee, right or remedy."

"Consumers who purchased tickets on the understanding they would have front row or unimpeded access, or were not aware of the condition to purchase premium tickets in order to do so, may have recourse under these sections of the ACL," said the NSW Fair Trading spokesperson.

"The Live Performance Australia (LPA) Ticketing Code of Practice also provides that 'Presenters and Authorised Sellers must seek to maximise fair access to Tickets by prospective Consumers by disclosing the particular categories of seats or seating areas that prospective Consumers may purchase prior to the public on sale date'."

It is stated in Bluesfest's ticketing terms and conditions, however, that Bluesfest "reserve the right to add, withdraw, reschedule or substitute artists and/or vary advertised programs, prices, venues, seating arrangements and audience capacity," a spokesperson for Bluesfest said.

"The (new ticket) announcement was made in conjunction with the release of the 2018 festival's final playing schedule. As the seats are sold on a per stage, per day basis it was essential for the consumers to know what stage and what day artists were playing.

"Bluesfest routinely adds Glamping, VIP lounge add-ons and other pricing variations throughout the sales cycle. Bluesfest are long term members of Live Performance Australia and abide by their ticketing code of practice ensuring we meet our obligations to consumers in particular clause 14 "release of additional seats or dates"."

Fair Trading's advice to customers who are dissatisfied in their dealings with a ticket seller is to contact the trader and try to resolve the matter in the first instance.

"Customers who are unable to resolve their issues with the trader can refer the complaint to the LPA at complaints@liveperformance.com.au, who will then deal with the complaint in accordance with the Code. Alternatively, customers can lodge a written complaint with Fair Trading at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au."

Whether complaints will have any success is unclear.

Meanwhile Bluesfest took home Silver at the Australian Tourism Award for Best Major Festival and Event at a ceremony in Perth on Friday night.

Bluesfest Director Peter Noble OAM said: "We are proud to now be a member of the NSW Tourism Awards Hall of Fame, having won the Best Major Event and Festival Award three years in a row, and five times in total. Under the rules we can't enter again now for a few years, whilst other worthy events in NSW get their chance of winning. We do intend to return and win this award in the future.

"It is a challenge to present a festival that continues to win and be nominated for so many awards. We do not take it for granted and will always strive to provide the best in music, and the services we provide to our patrons."



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