tired of getting the run-around on this race
February 25, 2016 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way I can get my money back from a deferred, then cancelled half marathon, with no 2016 date?

This is the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half marathon. I was registered to run it last October. Deferred (with a fee of course), and then race got cancelled due to weather concerns (there was a LOT of backlash about the cancellation decision).

It's been 5 months, and the organizers have posted zero updates on their website, zero on social media, and zero e-mail communication or update. Nada. Nothing. Total communication blackout. I've made my own attempts to reach out to the organizer, and keep getting the run-around about a 2016 date coming in a few weeks and updates soon. They told me that in January, and they told me the same thing 2 days ago. There's no date (this time last year and previous years, there were dates). I've directly asked for a refund, with no response.

At this point I feel like it's borderline fraud. Paid over $100, received nothing at all, not even an e-mail update. Not even a token banana. No prospect of a date. I'm tired of waiting on intentions and just want my money back. I've been empathetic to the organizer in the difficulties of putting on a large race, but the complete, total absence of communication is inept and irresponsible.

I've reached out to my credit card company, but both my original registration and deferral fee are past the dispute period. They contacted the organizer, and he admitted that there's no set 2016 date. What else can I do?
posted by raztaj to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure what jurisdiction you're in, but my county has a department of consumer affairs that will work on any transaction that you completed in their jurisdiction (including online ones), so I would start with your city/county consumer affairs department and DC's, as well. If you call, they will walk you through whatever forms or documentation you need to file to get a complaint going and hopefully reach a resolution.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 10:02 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

When similar stuff has happened here, local media has been very interested. I suggest contacting local TV and newspapers or even letting the organizer know that is your next step. The media exposure (or just the idea of it) might be enough to spur the organizer into action.
posted by ODiV at 10:03 AM on February 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Keep pursuing it with your credit card company. If there's zero communication from the race organizers and a lot of people have been affected by this, it's unlikely hounding them is going to be particularly fruitful or offer a quick resolution. Of course you should voice your discontent with the organizers and ask to be refunded, but I bet the credit card company is going to be easier to work with. Call them again and politely work your way up the chain until you get to a supervisor unhindered by a customer service script who actually has the capacity to fix your problem.
posted by phunniemee at 10:04 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Check whether the event was registered with/permitted by the athletics governing body for its area. I'm not sure how this works in the US - in the UK this would be a national organisation, but I don't know if you guys have state organisations that do this. If so, contact them and explain what has happened (though they probably already know).
They may not actually have the clout to force them to give you a refund, but they will at least have someone who has a direct line to the organiser and can pick the phone up and put huge pressure on them.
posted by penguin pie at 10:12 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Definitely don't give up on the credit card company. From the FTC's page on disputing charges for merchandise or services you never received:
But what if… You placed an order with a catalog company and they charged your credit card immediately. The catalog company contacts you two weeks later and says the shipment will be delayed 60 days. You agree to the delay. The 60 days have passed, and you may be outside of the time to dispute the charges. Can you still dispute the charge?

Maybe. When a shipment is delayed, credit card issuers often are more generous when they calculate the time for allowing disputes, and may extend the 60-day period. To take advantage of this flexibility, include the following information in your dispute letter.

Tell the credit card issuer if you didn’t expect to be charged for the merchandise before it was shipped. Some credit card issuers make an exception to the general industry rule against sellers charging before shipping if the seller tells you about its practice at the time of sale. If you’re sure the seller said nothing or wasn’t clear about its charge practice, the credit card issuer is more likely to allow the dispute.

Tell the credit card issuer when delivery was expected. Some issuers use the expected date of delivery rather than the charge date as the start time for you to dispute charges. If you dispute the charge within a reasonable time after the expected delivery date passes, chances are good that the card issuer will honor the dispute. When you order or when a seller notifies you of delayed shipment, it’s important to keep a record of the promised shipment or delivery date. Include a copy of any documentation of the shipment or delivery date when disputing the charge with your card issuer.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:38 AM on February 25, 2016

Right on the race info page are the words "The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon & 6K events are non-refundable." Race management does real work in terms of getting permits, emergency services, all sorts of stuff that costs real money and doesn't get refunded if the event is cancelled. This is part of the risk you took when you signed up for this race.

If anything, you could have a claim toward the deferral fee, but you'd probably have to show that race management actually had no intent on rescheduling. Otherwise, this is business as usual.
posted by disconnect at 10:44 AM on February 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

Non-refundable races are non-refundable. It sucks, but you have to eat the money.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:46 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the run was cancelled 3 days before the date. At that point, essentially all the money has been spent and is gone, regardless of whether the actual race happens or not. That is (one reason) the fees are non-refundable.

Now if you deferred to the 2016 event and that event just never is scheduled or never happens, you might have more of a case. But be prepared for the reality that they may have no money left in their bank account to refund to anyone because it has all been spent on preparations for the 2015 event. Which, whether it actually happened or not, incurred almost all the expenses regardless.
posted by flug at 12:27 PM on February 25, 2016

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