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December 16 2006

Personal Statement from Booster Events' Denise Adams. She's made a statement about the events leading up to the collapse of Flanvention II...

Some banks and credit card companies are requesting information on whether or not BE intends to refund, or at least that you asked. That statement answers that question, so print it out and hang on to it in case you need it.
Excellent idea, bix! IF anyone wants the PDF of the statement, I got it sent to me and put it on my own website:

http://www.brubin.net/Statement.pdf

Easier to print that way, I'd reckon. :)
Two quick ones:

- They aren't doing refunds. That probably needs to be highlighted so people can pursue other options whilst the business still exists (they may be able to get them from VISA, and VISA will somehow get the funds back from the business later. Although not always).

- Second one. I'm seeing a small (ie handful) of people over this saying they are going to go to the owners houses and such. For this reason -- that, and the fact I'm on holiday -- I've backed away from this a little. That makes me a world of uncomfortable. I know people are serious fucked off, and rightly so! - but that kind of talk just isn't worth visiting.

I'll be updating Flanvention Helpline as soon as I can, after I've spoken to people to figure out the best way of salvaging funds from the business for people who can't charge back with VISA. There's a few legal options, but those loans and mortage providers are going to significantly gobble the funds.

Booster Entertainments handling of this matter has been extremely awful, and has compounded the problem big time. They might well have been good intentions, but for everybody involved - including them - this is going to be a long, drawn out process which costs everybody dear finacially I'm afraid. :(

[ edited by gossi on 2006-12-16 02:39 ]
I think it's good that at least someone is speaking out, trying to give answers. It seems heartfelt, but then I wasn't fleeced.

The real sucky part is that even if people get their ticket money refunded via any avenue, I imagine there were nonrefundable expenses like hotel and airfare that had to be eaten.
I paid for my ticket through PayPal last February, which means I'm kissing 237 bucks goodbye. While this makes the loss hurt a little less, it's still a loss. I have already cancelled my plans to go to Booster Bash 2 next June over this. It's too bad it ended up ths way.
I imagine there were nonrefundable expenses like hotel and airfare that had to be eaten.

This is true, tho it impacts those who didn't go to Burbank at all more than those of us who were there, since we got B3 anyway.
There's so much I could say, but won't. I will say: the fact that she sounds genuinely upset and tried all sorts of last-ditch efforts to save Flan, is, um, I guess... admirable, in a way, but suffering and ineffectual efforts don't, in some big abstract emotional equation, pay for such monstrous cock-ups. And they don't, by any stretch of the imagination, pay Flan-spenders back for getting royally shafted -- regardless of your good intentions (which as we all know, pave the road to hell...)

My partner and I have this principle in our relationship -- if you screw up, your suffering and guilt aren't gonna pay for it -- just admit it and fix it. And if you can't fix it, facing that will probably mitigate it. And don't compound it by not facing it.

But guilt and thrashing about are just waste. In a way, usually unconscious, I think they are often meant to impress by their sincerity and serve as a blood offering to the Gods of Screwing Up.

But all I hear is "screw-ups compounded by wishful thinking and beautiful, lovely pain-wracked guilt." I think taking earlier and effective business & legal advice might have been a better way to go...
FWIW, vicki has responded to that statement. We now have official and public fighting between the one-time partners of Booster.
FWIW, vicki has responded to that statement. We now have official and public fighting between the one-time partners of Booster.
It's right here.
I have no sympathy for either of them at this point. BOTH of them were responsible for this mess. BOTH of them are equally to blame. Hundreds of thousands of dollars GONE. SPENT. By THEM. They can bicker back and forth all they want in public and point the finger at each other. I will point mine right back at both of them for taking my hard earned money and lying to all of us. The only thing they are sorry for IMO is that they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
I have to agree with QuoterGal:
" I think taking earlier and effective business & legal advice might have been a better way to go..."
It is too bad that they hadn't felt more guilt when they spent the money from Flan2 on their previous conventions. That would have been the time to seek loans rather than waiting until they had gotten themselves into such a deep hole. I am sure that they feel terrible, it is scary to face bankruptcy and losing ones home, but this should have been foreseeable. This should have been avoidable.
I cannot feel that those of us who paid in advance for Flan2 need to hesitate about pursuing charge-backs and filing complaints to authorities.
Ah, the inevitable finger-pointing. I would say it's all downhill from here, but it's been on the downhill slide for a while now.

My take: They can, in no fashion, give refunds. If they couldn't secure loans for an event that had the potential for return, there is no way they could get a loan now for refunds. People's best bets are to go back to their cc companies, if possible. BE looks to be headed to bankrupcy. Even if the owners are sued, it appears they have little money to pay a settlement with, and with whatever payment plan or wage garnishment that may happen in the future(if the lawsuit is successful), people will be getting peanuts an airline serving at a time.
I'm no expert, I just don't see anyone getting any meaningful amount of money back from BE, either via refunds or lawsuits.

In short, this sucks.
Well, the Booster site is now down...again...or not. hmmmmmmm.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2006-12-16 06:11 ]
Vicki has edited her post.
Deleted it, didn't she?
Did anyone save it? I didn't read it.
Vicki's original post:

Blah. blah. blah. and this is MY personal statement.

I'm not afraid to say I AM sorry.
I've *been* saying I'm sorry. I've been saying it. Because I am.
Rick and I have invested over $80,000 in two years of our PERSONAL money in Booster Entertainment. Fact. Documented. Denise keeps saying she is "sick of hearing about my contributions ad nausem" and sick of hearing how "I want some of it back" Duh. I don't- but Rick does. He took money out of his 401K for this business. Okay. He lost it. We resigned ourselves to that some time ago. We've offered the business to Denise several times now at her request.
She has offered no plan to take it and make it right, just a bunch of crap as outlined above.
I keep asking- "what do you want to do about refunds?"
"what do you want to tell people"
"we need to make an explanation"
"are we filing bankruptcy? Are you keeping the business?" nothing but more and more and more CRAP like you see posted above.
Of course I need to go to BACK to work, I am crazy in debt for this business. Denise isn't. Dave isn't.

I almost entirely funded Angel Booster Bash and have the cancelled checks to prove it. Want me to post em?
I wrote an $8,000 personal check to the Hilton for Flan I, want me to post it?
Rick paid Bruce Campbell personally- want me to post that check?
Yes- we had disasters this year. Yes we should have cancelled BEB and BES. We didn't. Hindsight is 20/20.
We should have done a lot of things differently, but we didn't. I should have had a different partner, but I didn't.
I didn't take any company money. I also don't have the business address, nor do I do the banking. Apparently, I just do the work and supply the financing.

I was led to believe we were going to get an SBA loan to finance ALL of 2006-realizing that two of the three conventions were selling poorly. Not until less than one week before Flan did I find out just how truly horrible my partner's credit is. It had nothing to do with "inventory". If I had been told this information 6 months prior when I first brought up the fact that we needed a big loan to get through 2006, I would have found some other way. I would have done it alone. No big. It was ignored and put off and lied about until it was too late. No excuse. I'm not making excuses. I should have just done it myself.

I have been waiting all this time since Flan because I was under the impression Denise actually *wanted* the company and wanted to re-pay everyone. I was prepared to hand over our shares and do whatever to make that happen.

I don't see that as being the case here. I have to figure out what to do at this point.

Hm. I believe she seems to have a rather large problem with foresight.
I wasn't affected by Flangate (other than my blood pressure on behalf of those who were), but self-pitying rants aren't helping at this stage.

To me, this makes them look even less professional, even less respectable. Shut up and fix things as best you can!
Shut up and fix things as best you can!


Never squabble in public (Simon's 4th rule). I've seen political parties with less infighting. It might be best if Booster Events sort things out behind the scenes instead of airing their grievances for all to see. As it just adds fuel to the fire and in the end no one benefits.

I hope something gets sorted out, at least for the ticket holders sake.
This is such a horrible shame. These people have no idea how to run a business, or manage funds. Well - anybody can start a business... and have kids...sometimes I think tthere should be an exam before people can do these things ;)

This whole saga is so sad. It sounds like the fans will not get their money back. The BE owners should be held responsible for refunding all the money collected for Flan 2, even if it means having to pay it over years from their personal income. An example needs to be made that companies cannot take people's money and then screw them. No matter what the intentions were, the end result is the same, in my eyes these people are crooks.

My disappointment is minor, but I am a bit bummed because I wanted to attend Booster Bash 2. It would have been the first BE convention I attended.
I've felt sad and worried and happy and relieved over the past couple of weeks regarding Flan and the Backup Bash, but I didn't actually feel angry until I read those statements from Denise and Vicky.

And I'm not even directly involved.
"Ah, the inevitable finger-pointing. I would say it's all downhill from here, but it's been on the downhill slide for a while now."

I think Rogue Slayer is unfortunately right here.

Usual Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, hellishly evil or otherwise.

I'm sorry to say that people should prepare themselves to see very little in the way of refunds and very little in the way of closure. Even if we had the Booster accounts open in front of us it is likely they would be just as confusing as the garbled statements we have had posted on line so far.

I know a lot of people have great faith in things like company accounts. Even when they a properly kept they are still very confusing, unless you are a professional accountant. I've spent hours going over the accounts of a convention I was actually running with the person in charge of finance. He was working with us as a fan but was a highly qualified accountant from a firm of international consultants. Without his help I wouldn't have had a hope of understanding it all, and I have a good science degree involving a lot of math. In the case of Booster Events I wouldn't expect their books to be any less chaotic than the way the company appears to have been run.

I would be surprised if there was deliberate fraud involved.

Firstly if you are a fraudster then conventions are not a good target. Several convention organisers I know have paid thousands of pounds into the events they run, to make their events viable, and they regard this as the price of their hobby. I even know of three occasions when guests have bailed out conventions held in their honour (some Honour!).

Secondly there are quite legal ways to take money out of a company in the form of salary and expenses. It could be immoral but it is unlikely to be illegal unless taken to extremes.

If tickets were sold to events that the organisers knew had no chance of happening then that might be fraud. This could have happened because the organisers seem to have been in deep denial about the state of their company for some time now and did not see what would have been obvious to an outsider. If that happened then the owners of the company might be individually liable. Unfortunately, I would guess their personal finances are no better run than those of the company. The result is unlikely to bring much money back to the fans, even after a legal process that might take several years.

At the moment the least bad thing to do may be for BE to go into bankruptcy. I don't think the current owners had the business skills to run it from the beginning. Since then they have drifted further and further into a state of denial and away from reality. At the moment their postings read like people who are almost in a state of medical shock. Someone else needs to take control of whatever assets the company may have and, in the unlikely event there is much there, then they can distribute any assets as fairly as possible. Even then this is not going to be anything like as fair as people would wish. This sort of situation is what bankruptcy laws are for. Sadly politicians have made them less fair than they should be but that is a matter for election time and not something we can fix ourselves. I'm speaking here as someone who was deprived of several months salary when a company I worked for went bankrupt and had to watch while 'preferential creditors' took first pick of the remaining assets.

I remember from that time that I was in favour of 'burning at the stake' for the people responsible! It was actually more important to get everyone calmed down, particularly people who were scared that they might be personally liable, so that everyone was working toward finding the best way out of a bad situation.

The California Browncoats and the BDH's converted a tragedy into a triumph at the convention. It's still a tragedy which could very easily get worse unless the people who are already victims can see that coherent action of some sort is being taken and sacrifice their desire for some form of immediate retribution, since that is unlikely to happen in any case.

Let's not do what Malcolm Reynolds would do !
Is anyone else even more confused than before as to how exactly this happened?
Meltha - what happened is pretty simple. And this isn't really speculation as Denise says this. They ran a load of conventions that didn't make money - they lost money. Big time. To try to keep things going the people involved personally bank rolled the business, which is a supremely bad idea -- and it also put them in the situation where they couldn't afford (on a personal level) for the business to go under. So they kept flogging the horse, getting more money loaned/secure on houses, hoping it would be okay.

I believe they had good intentions. I don't believe they had an idea how to run a business.

I can safely say having read the statements posted by people associated with the company that they aren't seeking legal advice before posting. Heh.

The amount of money fans are out is staggering. Not everybody got to go to Flan B, as we know (and those that did obviously didn't get what they had paid for -- some people didn't get near the actors) -- but also, there's all those people who prebooked for the next load of conventions. Some of the tickets on sale for Neptune Noir are, like, over $800.

Given the seriousness of the situation in terms of money amount(6 figures at a minimum) for the company and the fact the money crossed state lines (which makes it a federal matter), and the fact a large portion of those people are Browncoats of all people... Yeah. I think they need to seek legal advice and stop posting things online I'm afraid.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-12-16 16:54 ]
I wasn't directly impacted by Flangate, but when the stuff starts flying, I figure it's a good idea to capture it, just in case. *shrug* I hope they just resolve the situation quickly and more quietly for everyone's sake.

[ edited by roniabirk on 2006-12-16 19:06 ]
Thanks, Gossi. I guess I can see how it happened now; it's still a truly bizarre situation, though, or at least a bizarre way to run a business, at any rate.
As someone who is currently involved with a medium-sized fan-run convention as well as having been involved with numerous others in the past, when I read some of this stuff my mind boggles: I cannot for the life of me begin to understand why the smaller conventions that happened this year weren't cancelled when they realized they weren't getting the ticket sales they needed to make them happen. And they would have known fairly early in the game for both conventions that they weren't going to be financially viable. This is a question that needs to be answered in my mind - why did you use the money from the *sold out* convention to finance the two that hadn't sold enough to pay for themselves? That makes absolutely no sense to me.

Okay, okay, lack of business sense notwithstanding, I mean...
Agreeing with the lack-of-business-sense group here. I don't think any sensible business person would completely empty out the giant bank account that is meant to pay for a really costly event down the road (all the Flan2 money) to pay for current expenses now, unless there was a giant profit margin built into those prices. I mean, wouldn't you think you would need to be sensible enough to leave in the bank the minimum amount of money you need to pay expenses -- expenses whose amount you already know about, like hotel deposits, star fees, etc. (not like they got the power bill and were shocked to see how much it cost to heat the house in November, lol!) -- so that you don't have to, say, cancel a convention the day before it's supposed to start?

I also don't know if I believe the sincerity of some of the it-was-someone-else's-fault statements. The biggest reason I don't believe it is because of all the "No, everything's fine!" statements BE kept making before cancelling and now admitting they were hanging by a thread for quite a while, which is not the same as "everything's fine." They've lost their credibility with me. And the statements just don't mesh with what seems reasonable to believe. For example, from what I've read elsewhere, the Hilton was bending over backwards all along to be cooperative, so I don't know if I believe this "and then they wanted their deposits 3 days earlier than we expected" statement. (Just because someone posts something doesn't make it true.)

Also, the BE people either knew they were in trouble for a while, or else they were hugely incompetent for a while. My reason for saying this is what we know was happening with the convention guests. We know that Jamie from the RPG and Jewel did not get plane tickets, even though they were promised to have their travel handled. If the BE people really thought that Flan2 was going to happen, wouldn't they have booked the airline reservations at least a few weeks before the con and sent out confirmations? And we also know that they didn't even firm things up with Nathan's peeps, because Nathan sent a shout-out a few weeks ago asking us to help "light a fire" under the BE people, IIRC the way he phrased it on his blog (which he has since taken down, but which we discussed here, starting on November 22nd -- and you'll see that at that time, I was all for believing BE that it was all shiny and that we should just go about our business; thank goodness Simon was wise as usual and kept the thread going!). So something was fishy for weeks, not just at the last second, not just "oh, we just didn't get the 2nd mortgage funded in time" type of problems.

Which reminds me -- getting a 2nd mortgage the week you need the money, as opposed to weeks before, so you don't get crunched at the last second? Or applying for a merchant loan the week you need the money, as opposed to weeks before? Not great business sense, IMO. (Also, is it even possible to get a 2nd mortgage or merchant loan for as large amount as went missing on Flan2, unless you live in a castle or your business is so huge that half a million is just a small fraction of what the business is worth? I know the missing Flan2 money could be half a million, but I'm going to use the estimate of $400,000 I've seen most often -- I could be very wrong about the exact amount.) And the greater point is, you shouldn't have needed outside loans when you had collected about $400,000 or so in pre-sales.

So, while I believe in the sincerity of the regret BE people are expressing, the combination of poor business sense and not entirely believable it-was-everyone-else's-fault statements that I'm reading make me feel that this situation was the result of ginormous incompetence rather than intentional stealing of funds (unless there have been sudden additions to someone's personal bank account, which might be something that will have to be investigated by consumer protection people like the Attorney General's office at some point -- I am NOT saying this happened, but I still can't comprehend how $400,000 disappeared), and I don't know if incompetence fits the legal definition of fraud. It might be fraud in a legal sense to collect pre-payments for a convention and then spend the funds on other things, even other conventions, but I truly don't know. It might legally be fraud to keep issuing statements of "it's off/no, everything's shiny/no it's off/no it's shiny" when those things aren't necessarily true, or the whole story wasn't told (for example, the hotel might indeed have threatened to cancel, but it's because they weren't paid their deposit! which should have happened long before the event, I would have thought! and then the hotel was willing to negotiate anyway!), but I don't know. (Even if it wasn't fraud, it certainly jerked people's feelings around, which is not against the law but certainly sucks.) Fraud is not the biggest issue; disappearing money that consumers deserve to get back is.

Whether it is fraud or not, whether it was intentional (at this point, my opinion is no it wasn't intentional or theft, but, again, I don't necessarily believe that a post on the Internet equals "the whole truth and nothing but the truth"), I think it is very important that people who prepaid for any BE event NOT let feelings of sympathy or feeling sorry for Denise or Vicky or anyone else stop them from pursuing all means to get their money back. Once Denise and Vicky through BE accepted money from people, they entered into sort of a contract to deliver value for that payment -- the value being a convention or a refund. If they cannot deliver that value -- and they can't, and they didn't -- it doesn't matter how nice they are or how sorry they are or how much they want to be your friend. You deserve your money back, and you need to get it, one way or the other. It's just business, nothing personal.
I'm not directly impacted by any of this, thank God; but it sucks. A lot.
Wasn't directly involved with the Flan convention but did prepay for two tickets to BB2 scheduled next summer. I can only speak for myself and having read several fans online, know that I'm in the minority with my feelings about this whole mess.
I will not pursue any type of legal actions against these people. I am letting it go, literally.
If these people are financially able to refund my money for the tickets I bought, that's great. If they aren't, I don't want to take any part in the actions that would cause someone to lose their home. At this time, I don't think this mess was a result of anyone trying to swingle fans out of their hard earned money. These people apparently wern't the best business people in the world and made some less than intellegent decisions and because of that, a lot of us lost something.
Intent is my issue. After everything these people did to try to make this work and everything they have already lost, I will not sqabble over a couple thousand dollars. It sucks for sure but this is something these people will be dealing with for years to come.

This post isn't meant to imply that others shouldn't pursue their lost funds, each person has to decide that on their own. It's just a different perspective thrown into the mix.
You're a good soul, cheryl. Bless you! :-)
I agree with OzLady. Cheryl is a good soul.

I wish I could afford to have the same attitude as you. I wish I didn't feel the sting as strong as I do. But really, I don't think either family will lose their homes over this if people do take legal action. Usually insurance covers these types of issues, assuming they had any. I could be entirely wrong, but I really think this is an insurance issue at this point.
Insurance? I don't think so. I doubt very much they had the kind of liability insurance that would cover this type of disaster, for a corporation.
This will drop off the page, but if any BE customers are considering legal action, here's the skimmy: http://community.livejournal.com/be_victims/17056.html
I'm with Cheryl. I've been following Flangate from a distance, perplexed by the unfolding drama. If I were affected by it, I'd count my losses and move on. Legal action would make me feel worse and leave a bad taste in my mouth. But that's just me. I think I come from a different era/country/universe. I lost hundreds of Euros last month on an overseas event that was cancelled at the last minute. I went anyway, had a great time regardless and am still paying off my credit card. Shit happens. I think there's too much emphasis on blame in the world.

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