Usually, Langley resident Leah Carlson buys four reserved seats and two campsites valued at over $1,500 to attend the Merritt Mountain Music Festival. This year, however, she went with her gut and only reserved two seats.
Despite her caution, Carlson is still out $624 that Active Mountain Entertainment had not refunded as of Friday, though the company announced it had scrapped the festival last Tuesday.
A cancellation notice posted on the festival website and emailed to those, like Carlson, who purchased tickets directs customers to contact their credit card providers for a refund.
“When I read that it said contact your credit card company, I knew something was wrong,” said Carlson. “Usually when a show is cancelled through Live Nation or Ticketmaster, the money is automatically refunded.”
On Ticketmaster’s website, it states that if an event is cancelled, customers will get an automatic refund for tickets bought online or by phone. Tickets purchased at a retail location can be returned at the same location for a refund.
Instead of phoning her credit card company, Carlson phoned Active Mountain to request her refund, but the representative insisted she call her credit card company.
When she called her Visa provider, Carlson was told that cardholders had 90 days to dispute a charge and after that, there was nothing they could do.
“The representative I spoke to allowed me to dispute the charges anyway, but since it’s passed 90 days, I have no guarantee,” she said.
A customer service representative from the RBC Royal Bank gave the Herald a similar response. He said in this situation, Active Mountain is responsible to authorize a refund, otherwise customers need to dispute the charges, but there is no guarantee.
Carlson is not the only disgruntled ticket holder looking for a refund. On the Merritt Mountain Music Festival Facebook page several people have posted comments expressing frustration with the company, updating each other as they continue to get the runaround. Some people said they were told that Bean Stream, an electronic payment processing company, was holding the money, but when Carlson phoned the company she was told it was just a payment gateway.
“They were shocked that he would say they have the money – they don’t have authorization to offer refunds,” said Carlson. “It’s just a bunch of lies like last year when [Active Mountain Entertainment] said the headliner [Montgomery Gentry] cancelled because of plane troubles, and there’s a lot of people out of money.”
During the 2011 country music festival, organizers announced headliner Montgomery Gentry wouldn’t be able to make it because of mechanical troubles with an airplane. Later, Montgomery Gentry posted a note on their website that their performance was cancelled because of financial trouble with the festival.
That was enough for some die-hard festival fans to think twice before purchasing tickets this year.
“My cousin has been going since the beginning, but she didn’t buy tickets this year,” said Carlson. “It’s a shame, it could have been a great thing.”
Organizers cited low ticket sales for the cancellation, but Carlson said they could have sold more tickets if Active Mountain had slashed the prices and marketed the festival as a rebuilding year. Instead, tickets prices were the same as last year.
“What it boils down to, is that we’ve been lied to,” she said.
Mountainfest co-founder Claude Lelievre refused to answer media inquiries. Instead, he told the Herald to call back next week “when the dust had settled.”