We just want our money back, say furious Wicksteed comedy gig ticket holders
Furious ticketholders say they are simply being ignored after requesting a refund for June's woefully-handled comedy gig at Wicksteed Park.
There was a huge buzz when the laugh out loud Comedy in the Park bonanza was announced in 2020, with thousands signing up for tickets and crashing the website.
The 2021 date was moved to June 4 this year date because of Covid uncertainty, but since then it's been revealed five of the six headline stars would not be performing including hometown hero James Acaster.
Many ticket holders tried to get a refund, saying they could not attend the rescheduled date or that their favourite comedians who they had paid to see are no longer on the line-up.
But some have been left furious after their repeated requests to the ticket sellers and event promoters fell on deaf ears.
Emma Heald, from Corby, bought VIP tickets for her son Jordan and husband Chris as they were big Al Murray fans.
Tragically Jordan suddenly died in December 2020 aged 23. With the new date for the comedy event close to what would have been her son's birthday, Emma has sent at least four emails asking for a refund in recent months - but she is yet to receive a response.
She said: "I contacted them explaining my situation and I didn't even get a reply. I've heard nothing.
"It's just heartbreaking. Because it was booked for him (Jordan) I've just had it hanging over me. I've not been able to put it to bed."
She's now opened a case with her bank in a bid to recoup the money.
She added: "It's just disgusting. They have had our money for 18 months."
Kettering's Gina Christie was also among those to snap up tickets when they went on sale, purchasing two VIP tickets costing £85 each to go to the event with her sister.
She mainly bought the tickets because hometown hero James Acaster was performing and also because she wanted to support the park, which had struggled financially.
After the Northants Telegraph revealed Acaster was already booked elsewhere on June 4 and would not be performing in Kettering, Gina asked for a refund in September.
But despite repeated attempts to get her money back she hasn't even had the courtesy of a response.
She said: "Wicksteed had fundraisers when they were struggling and I wanted to help support them as it's such a fantastic park and on my doorstep.
"Part of that was booking Comedy in the Park and I was really excited for it. I thought it was going to be a brilliant event and really special for the park.
"But because most of the comedians advertised aren't going to be there and the communication about the event has been so poor, I don't particularly want to go now. It's created a bad feeling."
The event is being held under the Wicksteed Open Air Theatre banner by M&B Promotions, with tickets initially being sold by EasyTicketing who had a policy of not refunding rescheduled dates. New ticket sales were later moved to Gigantic, who do offer refunds, but it was too late for those who had already bought tickets.
Rob Beckett and Judi Love pulled out in August after concerns that ticket holders who couldn't make the rearranged date were not being refunded, with agents Off The Kerb saying they would not be performing at any Comedy in the Park events in 2022 because they did not agree with a policy not to refund people.
Tom Davis and Al Murray, who had been advertised as performing at Wicksteed Park, later distanced themselves from the gig on social media and said they had not been booked for the new rescheduled dates.
It means just one of the six comedians on the bill when tickets were first sold - John Bishop - will be performing in June. The event's website says he will be joined by a host of "top name comedians".
The event is currently sold out, according to the ticket sale page on Gigantic, but the full line-up for the rescheduled gig is still yet to be confirmed .
A statement released by Wicksteed Open Air Theatre last year said they were "working hard to resolve any issues" and hoped to announce the final line-up in due course. They said full refunds would be offered if the event was cancelled but did not believe that would be the case.
And after Wicksteed Park themselves were inundated with complaints theatre bosses made it clear the shambles was nothing to do with those at the park.
Their statement last year said: "We apologise for the confusion and inconvenience that rescheduling our events caused. The majority of ticket holders have been incredibly supportive and understanding of our position which we greatly appreciate.
"The decision to reschedule the Wicksteed Park Open Air Theatre dates rests with us and has nothing to do with Wicksteed Park’s owners or any of the artists booked for the events.
"We ask that all ticket holders refrain from contacting them directly. We are working closely with our partners to resolve any issues."
Wicksteed Park, who are not organising the events but are being paid for the use of their land, previously apologised to local people.
Both M&B promotions and EasyTicketing have been contacted for comment about ticket holders' refund struggles. Neither have responded.