Corona cancellations, refund yes or no?

Monday 30 March 2020 by Frank Jansen

Cyclo's and sportives are currently cancelled on a massive scale. A reader sent us a question via Facebook: will I get a refund if my event is cancelled? That's an interesting question, which we'll try to answer in this article. 

Delay versus cancellation

First of all, it's important to distinguish between an event that's delayed (moved) and one that's being cancelled. If an event is moved, your registration will stay valid. But what if you are not able to attend on the new date? Most organizers have covered this in the general terms and conditions: no refund. A good-hearted organizer will compensate you in some form, but's that's an exception rather than a rule.

Will I get a refund when the event is cancelled?

In 99% of cases: no. If you read through the general terms and conditions, in most cases you'll run into a paragraph which states that an event might be cancelled 'no matter what reason' and that there not be a refund in if that happens. Take for example the conditions of the Maratona:

If the event has to be cancelled due to exceptional circumstances there is no refund of the entry fee but the organisation reserve the right to start in 2021 after completing the registration procedure as requested for coming edition. 

Cycling Classics France (organizer of amongst others La Marmotte and Les 3 Ballons) says:

Registration costs are kept by the organizers, whatever happens. A start number is being assigned and reserved, and there will not be a refund in the event of absence, cancellation of the rider, delay of the event or cancellation for whatever reason.  

By the way, cancellations are are not very common in the gran fondo world, but usually before the registration even started. For instance because the organizers fail to meet al the necessary requirements (such as permits). Last minute cancellations are very rare, but they do exist.  In 2017, the GF Gavia e Mortirolo was cancelled due to horrible weather conditions.

And what if I open a dispute at my creditcard company?

On social media we've seen stories of riders who try to get their money back through their creditcard company. Basically, such an effort is quite futile: the CC company will refer to the event's general conditions and decline the request. However, smaller organizers sometimes use less strict conditions (or don't have conditions at all), in which case such a claim has somewhat more potential. We feel, however, this is not the right way. These organizers are really struggling because of the corona crisis. Trying to get a refund is not exactly decent, in our opinion.

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