Monday, 25 Oct 2021

Cancelled: Auckland wedding fair canned, vendors out of pocket despite refund promise

A beleaguered Auckland wedding fair that was delayed for more than a year – upsetting vendors who had paid deposits totalling thousands of dollars to attend has been cancelled – despite promises it would finally go ahead this weekend.

Organisers are promising refunds but vendors are not holding out hope and feel disappointed and let down.

The Hitch’d Wedding Fair was originally set down for March 2020 in Kumeu but was postponed due to the national Covid-19 lockdown.

New dates were promised to vendors – most who had paid deposits to attend the fair and promote their own businesses – but the show never went ahead.

Some paid several hundred dollars and others upward of $800 to secure a site at the fair.

In March Hitch’d owner Jade Stack told the Herald dates had been “locked in” for May 8 and 9, the paperwork had been signed at the venue and she was planning the advertising and marketing.

But on April 15 Stack’s mother emailed all vendors from the Hitch’d email account to say the fair was not going ahead.

Stack has been contacted for comment but has not yet responded.

In the email her mother claimed Stack had “received constant bullying, harassment and abuse” over the troubled fair and vendors and sponsors had cancelled bookings.

She expressed disappointment at vendors speaking to the Herald about their situation.

“Unfortunately due to the negative impact… it is with regret that the only option is to cancel the fair,” the email said.

“Jade is deeply saddened that it has come to this.

“All vendors will be contacted individually over the next two weeks to arrange a refund.”

Stack’s mother said she was under a “huge amount of stress” and she had been “left with no option but to step in”.

“Jade has tried her utmost to get everything back on track post Covid to make sure the fair gets back up and running.”

On April 30 vendors received a follow-up email.

“We are gathering the funds for the refunds and will be in touch in a week,” it read.

Vendors said last night they were still waiting for their money.

Some had received partial refunds and all hoped they would get their money back in full.

They appreciated the global pandemic had impacted Stack’s business but said they too were struggling and the handling of the fair and poor communication since the first postponement was frustrating.

Some had considered legal action previously.

In March Stack conceded she had not managed relations with the vendors well.

“My communication has not been as thorough as it could be and I apologise for that,” she said.

She told the Herald she was under no obligation to refund anyone and any money returned was “out of good faith and not required”.

She said her terms and conditions, as stated on the Hitch’d website, were that funds would be transferred to the next event if there was a postponement.

However, there was no transfer if the fair was cancelled and no refunds under any circumstance.

“This is such a shame,” said one vendor.

“She needs to own up and pay all the vendors back.”


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