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Switzerland: Can I get refunds for tickets and memberships if I don’t have a Covid certificate?

Switzerland: Can I get refunds for tickets and memberships if I don't have a Covid certificate?
No certificate? No refund. Photo by ETHAN MILLER / AFP
From concert tickets to memberships, what are the rules for refunds if you don't have a Covid certificate?

The certificate, which went into effect in Switzerland on September 13th, lays down new rules and restrictions for those who have not been vaccinated, recovered from coronavirus, or tested.

The certificate is now compulsory to access almost all indoor areas, including restaurants, bars, fitness centres, sports events, cultural facilities, as well as some gatherings in private venues.

Because this concept is so new and unprecedented, most event organisers have not yet caught up with the new reality by adapting their sales conditions or contracts to include the “Covid” clause.

As things stand now (and they may or may not change in the future), holders of tickets are not entitled to get their money back, even when the tickets were purchased before the Covid certificate went into effect.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How does Switzerland’s newly expanded Covid-19 certificate work?

Why? The organiser would have to refund the tickets only if the concert was cancelled. But if the event is taking place as scheduled, and a guest is not attending due to personal reasons — which the lack of a health certificate is — then the organiser is not legally bound to pay the money back.

“The event is taking place and the service is provided. The reason for not attending lies in the participant, not in the organiser”, Vito Roberto, professor of Private Law at the University of St. Gallen, explained in an interview with SRF public broadcaster.

This situation can be likened to someone not participating in an event because they got sick. An illness could not be foreseen at the time when the ticket was purchased, in the same way as the introduction of the Covid certificate requirement could not be predicted ahead of time.

The organiser is not responsible either for a guest’s illness of lack of certificate.

What can you do to protect yourself from such situations in the future?

Often when tickets are offered for sale, there is a possibility to add an extra charge for a cancellation refund. This makes the ticket more expensive, but the higher price could be worth it in the end.

Also, a number of insurance companies in Switzerland offer cancellation insurance for all kinds of events.

However, these policies pre-date the pandemic and don’t (yet) take Covid certificates into account, so you should read the fine print to make sure such a situation would be covered.

What about cancelling your fitness club membership because you don’t have your certificate?

If you have a monthly, seasonal, or annual subscription to fitness centres, indoor swimming pools, or other sports activities where the certificate is needed, your chances of getting a refund are better.

Photo by William Choquette from Pexels.com

This issue was highlighted last week, when some fitness clubs in Switzerland asked their clients who had no Covid certificate to pay a 50-franc fee for temporarily suspending their subscription.

READ MORE: Can I cancel my gym membership in Switzerland if I don’t want to get vaccinated? 

This is illegal, according to the Consumer Federation of the French-Speaking Switzerland (FRC).

“The health pass was imposed by the Federal Council and is not provided for in the contract. Therefore, if as a result of this decision you no longer have access to fitness services, you are entitled to have your subscription suspended free of charge. Or, you can request a refund”, FRC said on its website.

READ MORE: Q&A: Answers to your questions about Switzerland’s expanded Covid-19 certificate


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