For the past three weeks, I have been looking very forward to running in and reviewing The Zombie Run. Unfortunately, the company putting this event on, Human Movement Management, made a premature decision to cancel the event that was supposed to take place Saturday, August 23rd at White River Paintball in Anderson, IN. As such, the only thing I can do is review the customer service provided by Human Movement Management, and it’s not pretty.
On Friday, August 22nd, at 1:31pm, I received an email from the Zombie Run stating that due to inclement weather, the Saturday’s Zombie Run in Anderson, In had been postponed…until August of 2015! The last time I checked, when you postpone an event, it is the next day, the next week, or at most, a month or two out so scheduling can be worked out with the company putting on an event and the venue. To say that an event is postponed for an entire year is nothing short of using the word “postponed” as a legal loophole, when in fact, you’ve CANCELLED the event.
However, Human Movement Management wanted us to know they had our best interests in mind, and they were going to transfer our registrations for the 2015 Zombie Run. No information was mentioned about refunds at all. The fact of the matter is, I signed up for and paid for the 2014 Zombie Run, not the 2015 Zombie run. I have no idea what I’ll be doing a year from now. I may not be available to run this race a year from now, which is why I chose to run it this year.
Immediately after reading this cancellation email, I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org because I had questions about getting my money back. As I write this now, 4 days later on Monday evening, I have yet to get a response to my email.
I also immediately found the official facebook event for the Zombie Run in Anderson on Facebook, and immediately inquired about a refund. Once again, no response at all to my inquiry.
The next morning, when I still hadn’t gotten any type of response from The Zombie Run, I found their official facebook page (different from the event page). On this page, they posted the same text from the email they sent me about “postponing the event.” I commented right away that I was still waiting for information about a refund. Other people started to jump in on the conversation (which can be found here), and finally The Zombie Run broke their silence. They wanted to know why I, and other were upset (which was very obvious). My response:
I’m upset that you did not provide the services I purchased from your organization and are not offering me a refund on it. It was your decision to call the event off, not my inability to make it there. If you cannot deliver on what you promised me when I purchased a ticket, it is your responsibility to give me my money back.
The Zombie Run’s response:
Ryan, please understand that this wasn’t a ‘decision’. We reserve the right to postpone or even outright cancel because of weather. It’s in the contract you signed. We did not “pocket and run” off with your money. All of the money was spent. Our crews are there. The trailers are there. The venue, insurance, equipment rentals, etc are all paid for. We don’t save money by canceling your event. We lose money by retuning next year for free because we have to pay for everything all over again. Hopefully that’s clear to you and you appreciate our efforts to do the right thing. Most companies in this situation simply cancel because that is legally allowed.
They can’t give me my money back because they spent it all? So, as an organization that puts on outdoor events, they choose not to purchase some sort of event cancellation insurance policy (which a quick google search shows almost 2.5 million results with all sorts information about policies organizers can purchase to protect their event/investment)? I honestly cannot say if they did or did not purchase an insurance policy on their event (though they do mention insurance of some kind in one of their above responses). If they did, they’re even more shady than I originally thought. If they didn’t, they’re extremely poor planners, and are forcing us, as their consumers, to pay for their mistakes. Either option is pretty pathetic.
A number of people posted on The Zombie Run’s facebook page that they never received an email about the cancellation, and had shown up at the event (some driving multiple hours to get there). To make matters worse, when these folks arrived, they also reported that White River Paintball was open for business, with paintball and other activities going on there. The only weather condition going on in the area was the heat, and The Zombie Run was the only event cancelled. Things just don’t add up, and it doesn’t feel like The Zombie Run put any effort into trying to salvage the event.
Over the past few days, I’ve been doing some research on Human Movement Management. In the past month, I found that two Dirty Girl Mud Runs put on by the company have also been cancelled. In Charleston, WV ABC affiliate WISN reports that a class action lawsuit has been filed for no refunds being given for the cancelled August 16th Dirty Girl Mud Run,with companies 100LLC and Human Movement Management being named as the defendants in the case. In Lincoln, NE, NBC affiliate WOWT reports that the September 13th Dirty Girl Mud Run has also been cancelled without an offer for a refund.
In both articles, people state they are going to their banks to get payments reversed on their credit cards since Human Movement Management is refusing to offer refunds for their events. I filed a dispute with my bank on Sunday to try to get my money back as well. The folks I talked to at the bank, as well as people I know who have disputed charges in the past all tell me that banks tend to be very consumer-friendly in incidents like these, and most people tend to get their money back. I’ll know some time in the next 90 days if I get mine back as well.
It’s time for a little transparency. I will admit that The Zombie Run’s official website does state that they have a no refund policy for their events. I glossed it over when I purchased my ticket, and honestly did not give it much thought at the time. I’ve been to events in the past where weather was an issue. Pretty much all of them have been concerts. I’ve been in a crowd in an outdoor venue when it started to poor. We were told to go back to our cars and wait the storm out until the concert could continue, which it did eventually. I’ve seen venues change from outdoors to indoors to insure that the show still goes on. I’ve purchased tickets to concerts that were cancelled for various reasons, ranging from sick band members to the venues closing down, and always been offered a full refund.
Because I’ve had such great experiences in the past with every other event organization I’ve dealt with in a cancellation situation, I didn’t take the no refunds policy seriously. To a certain extent, shame on me.
On the other hand, when you’re a business, it’s your responsibility to do right by your customers. If The Zombie Run had refunded my money like any reputable organization would, I would trust them as a company, and consider signing up for their run next year, or another event that Human Movement Management puts on. However, with their overly defensive attitude saying that they have no responsibility to refund my money, and that I should feel lucky that they’re offering me the chance to run next year for “free,” I will never pay money again for an event that Human Movement Management has any association with. I hope you’ll consider the same as well.