Dance promoters sued by TryBooking for lack of ticket money

“The event organizer did not cooperate with us on a refund process as required by our terms and conditions, which resulted in us pursuing them through legal channels,” said TryBooking CEO Jeff McAlister, in a statement.

The Maitreya festival typically attracts up to 10,000 punters.Credit:Lenny maddy

In the months following the cancellation of the Maitreya festival, disgruntled music festival fans continued to flood the festival’s Facebook page with angry messages about the canceled event.

In a series of Facebook posts, Maitreya organizers refused to explain to affected punters their refusal to issue refunds.

“We can’t give you a few words about the ins and outs of the rabbit hole where the event ended this year,” a statement read on the page.

“We can’t go back in time and give you back what could have been… but we are deeply convinced that everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is really hard to understand or discover in the short term.”

However, the organizers had plenty of time to realize that the festival was in trouble.

As early as February, the Buloke Shire Council refused to issue the necessary permits over concerns about the safety and environmental impact of the event, which takes place near Charlton in central Victoria. Festival organizers took the council to VCAT, but a hearing on February 29 upheld the council’s decision.

On March 4, VCAT asked festival organizers to notify ticket holders that the event would not be taking place and to vacate the site within 14 days. Despite this, Maitreya posted on his Facebook page the next day that the event was “100 percent”. Tickets were still on sale.

Organizers ultimately called off the event on March 10, citing bad weather. They promised a replacement event later in the year.

Several international DJs, including Swiss artist Liquid Soul and Serbian DJ Zyce, confirmed to Fairfax that they had received all of their entertainment fees from the organizers, indicating that some of the missing funds had been spent on maintain relationships with leading artists.

Many Maitreya fans, however, remain out of pocket.

The festival’s most recent Facebook post has more than 500 comments from punters, who call the fiasco “shame.”

“Really deplorable behavior and an absolutely absurd response,” wrote one festival-goer.

Dozens of disgruntled fans are planning to launch their own legal action, with calls for a class action lawsuit. Slater and Gordon have refuted allegations on Facebook that they were launching a class action lawsuit.

Maitreya’s organizers and their legal representatives declined to speak to Fairfax Media over this story.

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Maitreya: Timeline of a failed festival

February 10, 2016

Buloke Shire City Council denies Maitreya planning permission. The organizers did not provide information for the planning permission, including traffic management, insurance policy, emergency and environmental plans. Festival promoters are launching a VCAT action against the council’s decision.

February 15

Alan Getley, president of the local business association Charlton Forum, says the cancellation is devastating for the local economy. Wants to see the festival go on.

February 25

Louise Staley, MP for Ripon, says she has been inundated by community groups calling for the festival to continue.

February 29

The VCAT decides in favor of the council that the festival cannot go as planned. Maitreya argued that the problem was how the festival was classified in the building permit. The organizers did not have the consent of Parks Victoria and no management plan for the cultural heritage site.

3rd of March

Alan Getley says the board should do whatever it takes to help the festival move forward. Announcement that he will be running for council.

March 4

Maitreya ordered by VCAT to notify ticket holders and release site within 14 days

March 5

Promoters on Facebook say the event is “100% go” with a new venue.

March 6

Promoters always advertise tickets on the Facebook page.

March 7

Victoria Police are urging organizers and participants to stop their plans to attend the festival. They warn that support agencies such as St Johns have withdrawn their services.

March 8/9

Maitreya’s Facebook post says stages are being built and that they will have medical, security and fire services. The big titles Liquid Soul and Zyce are coming to Melbourne.

CFA District 18 director of operations John Bigham said any business at the site would be breaking the law.

March 10

Inspector Dan Davison, commander of the local Swan Hill region, said the event was a “recipe for disaster” and a potential fire hazard. No water, toilets, medical care and emergency response.

Maitreya organizers cancel the festival, blaming the bad weather and the flooded site.

March 11-14

About 1000 people still descend on the Charlton district and organize an informal festival.

May 6

Maitreya organizers said they could “no longer issue refunds” in a Facebook post. Announce plans to host an event on September 30 at Wooroonook Lake.


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Gerald R. Schneider

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