The speaking tour by US anti-vaccination campaigner Sherri Tenpenny no longer has any venues willing to host it. Every single venue that was set to host her talks has since cancelled her events, including the well respected Rydges Hotel.
A high-profile anti-vaccination campaigner’s tour of Australia is in jeopardy after every venue booked to host her controversial seminars pulled out.
Sherri Tenpenny, an American osteopath who says vaccines are not safe and effective for children and that they are linked to conditions including autism, was booked to speak at 11 venues in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide in February and March.
According to the organisers of her “Birth Baby and Beyond” and “Raising Healthy Children Naturally” talks, hundreds of tickets have been sold for up to $200 each.
But after a pro-vaccination group’s campaign to stop the tour, all of the venues have cancelled.
But anti-vaccination campaigners have never been quick to hand back refunds, and it looks like the Tenpenny Tour is no exception. Despite all 11 events no longer having a venue the GanKinMan Foundation; a fake organisation set up by Stephanie Messenger continues to sell tickets.
The tickets are now being sold as “Venue to be decided” and are non-refundable. So anyone who cannot make it to the unknown venue will not be given their money back. This also applies to people who already purchased tickets before the venues pulled out. This runs contrary to Australian Consumer Protection Law which entitles existing ticket holders to a refund since the product/service has been changed without their prior consent.
So I sent an email to the ticket broker Eventbrite to ask these questions.
I am writing to express my concern about an event with tickets being sold via Eventbrite.
The event in question is promoted by the GanKinMan Foundation & Get Rid of SIDS Project, Inc
All venues that were originally set to host these events have since cancelled the venue bookings due to the controversial nature of the planned event. One such venue to cancel an event is the highly reputable Rydges Southpark Hotel, Adelade, Australia. As covered by the main stream media here: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/19/anti-vaccination-seminar-venues-all-pull-out-but-tour-will-go-ahead
I am concerned about the fact that Non-refundable tickets are still being sold by the event organisers despite having no planned venue available. Should the organiser find a new venue, will Eventbrite issue refunds to ticket holders who cannot make it to the new venues?
Another concern I have is that the “GanKinMan Foundation” does not appear to be a registered organisation and its “official” website gankinman.com is using a whois privacy service to conceal its ownership information. It should go without saying that a fake organisation anonymously selling non-refundable tickets to events without venues is a significant redflag for possible fraudulent activity.
I ask that your Trust & Safety Team look into the legitimacy of these events.
I received the following response from Eventbrite.
Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. To clarify, Eventbrite is a self service online ticketing and registration tool, so all content is provided by the event page creator.
After reviewing the events specified, we can confirm the event pages currently comply with Eventbrite terms of service.
You can review our terms of service at http://eventbrite.com/tos. Eventbrite has a robust Trust and Safety team, If an event listed on Eventbirite takes place significantly not as described or is cancelled without attendee communication, our processes, in conjunction with any dispute processes the payment processor has in place means that attendees always have a recourse for refunds. -EventBrite
Unfortunately Eventbrite wouldn’t cancel the event because it doesn’t currently violate their terms of service. However this is not all bad news because although the tickets are still on sale Eventbrite can still force a refund even if the event organisers would prefer to keep the money (After all what is a fake foundation for?).
An event without a venue or with a venue that is to far away from the original when the tickets were sold will likely count as “significantly not as described” and it will also be extremely hard to find a venues of comparable quality to those which cancelled. As it stands a full cancellation voluntary or otherwise is looking more and more likely by the day.