Vancouver E-Fest refunds in limbo as organizers rebuff return of $500K deposit

Click to play video: 'Refunds for Vancouver E-fest ticket holders still in limbo'
Refunds for Vancouver E-fest ticket holders still in limbo
It looks like ticket holders for the ill-fated E-festival and car race that was supposed to happen in Vancouver this summer will have to wait even longer for a refund if they get one at all. Kamil Karamali has the latest. – Aug 23, 2022

It has been four months since the ill-fated Canadian E-Fest electric car race and festival was cancelled, and ticketholders say they’re still in the dark about refunds.

“It’s very disappointing. An organizing body should be much more committed to its customers if something goes sideways and they have to cancel something,” racing fan Michael Cox told Global News Tuesday.

Read more: Vancouver Formula E ticketholders say organizers ‘completely silent’ on refunds

“You shouldn’t have to fight to get your money back.”

Cox is among more than 30,000 ticketholders for the event, which was supposed to take place on the Canada Day weekend, but was abruptly “postponed” until 2023 in April.

Since then, Vancouver has been dropped from the Formula E circuit’s provisional calendar for 2023, and ticketholders like Cox say it’s been radio silence from the event’s organizers, the One Stop Strategy (OSS) Group.

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Click to play video: 'Vancouver E-Fest ticketholders still waiting for refunds'
Vancouver E-Fest ticketholders still waiting for refunds

“I emailed England to the organizing body and they said they couldn’t do anything because tickets were sold by Canadian E-Fest and I had to deal with them,” he said.

“Their emails went unanswered and I didn’t get any response at all.”

At the end of July, the City of Vancouver said it would refund a $500,000 “performance security” payment to OSS Group, on the condition that money be used to refund ticketholders and vendors.

Read more: Future of Vancouver Formula E race in question as city dropped from provisional calendar

The offer also came with the requirement that the city and OSS Group jointly retain a lawyer, who could assess the organizer’s financial records and liabilities, to facilitate the distribution of the money.

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“First and foremost we’d like to see the ticketholders, who purchased tickets to this event, get their money back,” Vancouver Coun. Pete Fry said.

“There’s a lot of people that are out a lot of money, because the tickets were not cheap.”

That refund offer, however, has been rejected.

Click to play video: 'Auto racing returning to downtown Vancouver for three day event'
Auto racing returning to downtown Vancouver for three day event

Reached by phone, OSS Group CEO Matthew Carter said organizers “absolutely” intended to refund ticket money “if the city gives it back to us.”

But he said the company was not “legally” allowed to accept the funds on the city’s terms.

“These were funds that were given to the City of Vancouver for an event that never happened, and they need to be paid back to us with no strings attached, that’s the end of the conversation,” he said.

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“I am more than happy to follow the direction of the councillors on the vote they gave, but the way that’s been interpreted by city staff is impossible, and they know is impossible for us to accept.”

Read more: Vancouver’s inaugural Formula E race pushed back to 2023

Carter said the OSS Group’s lawyers were in contact with the city about trying to resolve the dispute.

In the meantime, race fans like Cox have been left to their own devices to recover their money.

Cox said he’s working through a dispute process with Visa, which has provisionally credited him the funds as it conducts an investigation.

But he said if the Formula E race ever does make its way to Vancouver, the experience has left him unlikely to be in the stands.

“Do the right thing and refund people’s money,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to try and take other action to try and get it.”

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