Read the impact of the latest developments in our legal tip Corona: The latest federal decisions and their effects
Will my fitness subscription, concert tickets, flight and hotel reservations expire?
As at March 11, 2021
In order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, measures are repeatedly adopted in Switzerland by the federal government and the cantons. These have an impact on our daily life. We have collected answers to emerging questions.
In this article we want to explain the following topics:
- Gym memberships, training, concert tickets, and music lessons
- Vacation and travel during the coronavirus pandemic
The gym has to close due to the official order until further notice. What happens to my fitness subscription?
Certain fitness centers have clauses in their General Terms and Conditions (GTC) that govern what should apply in situations such as the present one. If this is not the case in your contract, we recommend that you contact your fitness center as soon as possible to discuss extending your subscription for the duration of the center's closure. Since the fitness center is temporarily unable to provide its services due to the ordered closure, a termination of the contract is also conceivable. Given the current situation, the fitness center does not owe any compensation. You can, however, demand a pro rata refund from the fitness center for those months in which you are no longer able to train due to the closure.
Training cannot take place at the moment because of the coronavirus. Soccer clubs, swimming clubs, and other sports clubs have had to stop training. What happens with the membership fee that I have already paid?
It can be assumed that membership fees do not have to be refunded. The membership fee is not a payment for a specific service and the rights of a member are not limited to the use of the club facilities or club grounds or participation in training sessions. Other matters may be set out in the statutes. An immediate termination of the membership is conceivable if the continuation of the membership does not seem reasonable.
In our article Termination of a fitness studio contract you can find out when and if you can cancel your fitness subscription without notice and how to do so.
I have booked music lessons for myself or my child, which are no longer taking place. Can I reclaim the amount already paid?
If a private music teacher cancels lessons or is forced to do so due to official instructions, he or she is generally obligated to refund any payments already made. A contract may provide for other arrangements.
I bought tickets for a concert or theater entry tickets. Am I entitled to a refund of the ticket price?
If an event has been canceled in response to orders issued by the health authorities, the organizer is generally obligated to refund the ticket costs. However, the agreement with the organizer may contain provisions that deviate from this principle. Usually, there are corresponding clauses (which apply to rights and obligations in the case of an epidemic) in the General Terms and Conditions (GTCs) of the organizer.
If you decide for personal reasons (such as out of fear of infection) not to attend an event that takes place, you cannot request reimbursement of the ticket price.
What about the associated costs of hotel bookings and public transportation tickets?
Any reimbursement of booking costs has no direct connection with the cancellation of the specific event you were planning to attend. This means that you will have to bear the costs if the hotel or public transport company chooses not to make any voluntary concessions and reimburse the price of your booking or tickets either in full or in part or offer you an alternative date. Your travel cancellation insurance may reimburse you for these costs.
I have booked vacations. However, due to coronavirus measures, the hotel had to cancel my reservation. Do I get back the deposit I already made for my hotel reservation?
Yes, in principle the hotel will refund the reservation fee. In this case, the contract will be canceled and the hotel will have to refund the money already received. However, contracts may stipulate another procedure. We recommend that you contact the hotel and discuss possible solutions (e.g. postponement of your stay or refund of the money).
Find out more information from the official websites of the country you want to travel to about what travel bans or restrictions are in place.
If no travel warning has been issued by the FDFA for the location of the planned trip, you must pay the contractually agreed cancellation fee of the travel operator.
At present, many travel operators are accommodating and charging low to no cancellation fees. Nevertheless, it is important to read the GTCs carefully since the service fees, for example, must be paid in any case. To be on the safe side, request a written (email) confirmation regarding what will be reimbursed in the case of a cancellation.
Even if you have travel insurance, you should find out in which cases it takes effect. Ask specifically about the country you are traveling to and the planned dates, and have the information sent to you in writing. If your trip is a package tour*, you are protected on the one hand against the insolvency of the provider. That means the provider is obligated to protect the money you have already transfered to it for the vacation. In short: You get the money back if the provider goes bankrupt.
On the other hand, if the provider of your trip cancels, you have the following options:
- You can take another equivalent or higher value package tour without additional cost
- You can demand another package tour at a lower cost and have the difference paid to you
- Or you can reclaim the amounts you have already paid and not go on the trip
If, however, the provider cancels the trip not based on a travel warning of the FDFA or another official order, but rather because too few bookings were made due to the coronavirus crisis, then it is not force majeure – and you have the rights listed above. If you only booked a last-minute flight, you can get information on your rights here.
If you have booked a hotel room and rental car directly, you generally bear the cost risk as the customer. This means that you will have to bear the costs if the service provider chooses not to make any concessions and reimburse the price of your booking either in full or in part or offer you an alternative date. We recommend that you read the terms and conditions of cancellation carefully. Many hotels offer free cancellation options up to 24 hours prior to arrival; there are also so-called cancellation fees. Check the contractual terms and conditions of your travel or travel cancellation insurance if you took out this type of insurance. If you have booked the trip with a travel provider, contact them to claim reimbursement of the travel price or a rebooking.
What should you do if your flights are canceled?
If flights are canceled by order of the authorities, the airline can no longer provide the promised service, i.e. it can’t operate the flight. In this case, contact the airline, the travel agency, your travel insurance, or a passenger rights portal directly to claim reimbursement of the ticket price or a rebooking. Unfortunately, you cannot assert other claims. Note: Many airlines such as Swiss have set up dedicated hotlines, for example. Find out more information from the website of your travel provider. If it’s unclear whether your trip will take place, we recommend that you also contact the travel agent or airline directly. Important: If you, as the affected person, cancel the flight yourself, you lose your claim to reimbursement.
Every country issues its own quarantine rules and other restrictions regarding opening hours, obligations to wear a mask, closed attractions, etc. Obtain information prior to booking so that you can decide whether you want to travel to the country under those circumstances. In any case, comply with the instructions of the local authorities because non-compliance with the regulations can be punished with fines or even prison.
Vacations should be enjoyed. However, if you are only full of worry during your vacation, the fun and relaxation quickly take a backseat. For this reason, it is also important to get information about the mood and developments of the local situation.
*A package tour is a defined booking in advance of at least two of the following services if this is offered for a total price, and lasts longer than 24 hours or includes an overnight stay: Transportation (for example flight or rail), accommodation (for example hotel or youth hostel), or other tourist services that are not ancillary to transportation or accommodation and comprise a substantial part of the overall service (for example excursions at the travel destination).
Find out more about the effects of COVID-19 on our work and day-to-day lives:
The coronavirus has reached Switzerland – should I still go to work?
Coronavirus: The latest federal decisions and their effects
Coronavirus: What does the closure of schools, daycare, and after-school care mean for employees?