Amanda Cook writes about the bitter experience of a snow-affected Stereophonics gig.
I’m hoping to draw attention to an ongoing campaign to secure refunds for those affected by the severe weather warnings that prevented thousands of fans getting to the Stereophonics gig at the Genting Arena on 1st March. There is a Facebook group working towards this, and several reports have been made to BBC Watchdog and other media outlets.
In short, the gig went ahead in the face of widespread weather warnings, public transport cancellations, and Met Office advice not to travel unless absolutely necessary. A best guess is that approximately £250,000 worth of tickets were unused because fans could not get to the arena. The fact that the show went ahead (unlike Paul Weller’s gig the following night which was postponed, and lots of other events on 1st March were also cancelled) attracted widespread negative publicity locally on the television and radio.
In response, after the show and the scale of the disruption was clear, Stereophonics issued a public statement acknowledging our difficulties and told us to hold onto our tickets as they were “working with the venue and the promoters to address the situation” and would update us in the next few days. Those affected were naturally delighted and the criticism turned to praise. Unfortunately what followed would suggest that this was nothing more than a cynical attempt to deflect the negative publicity at the time, because we then waited for approximately three weeks for an official announcement, and nothing came.
Instead, those that had complained to various outlets started to receive private emails to say that there would be no refund coming as the show went ahead, and a new show for those affected wouldn’t be happening either.
Instead, as what was described as a “goodwill gesture,” they made a time limited offer to some of us (although inexplicably not everyone received even this) of a £25 discount on purchases for tickets to the Rize festival (in Chelmsford!) where Stereophonics are headlining, but not even a discount on every ticket… just the total purchase if more than one was taken up within a couple of days. So, in short, their solution was to ask us to pay even more on top of that which we had lost, to travel 150 miles from Birmingham to see them play a shorter festival set.
After the disappointment subsided, we might well have put it down to experience and thought that at least they offered something as an act of goodwill. However, what we saw was the Twitter feed of drummer Jamie Morrison (@popmorrison) and, in particular, the tweets that he has liked concerning our complaints about the situation. There is ridicule and self pity that we have the audacity to expect them to follow through on what they appeared to be suggesting they would do, and not simply pocket our hard-earned cash and ask for even more of it.
There is also a distinct lack of sympathy that it is our own fault for not spending a little extra on ticket insurance. In fact, a lot of us did, but insurance will not pay out in circumstances where a show goes ahead, unless medical evidence can be produced as reason for your inability to attend. Furthermore, the fact that they told us to hold onto our tickets meant that many with insurance didn’t claim, expecting a refund or a new date, and when the low-key derisory offer eventually did come, the deadline to claim on insurance had passed.
On the day of the show, social media was flooded with messages begging the organisers to postpone . During the show, video footage shows Kelly Jones referencing the “three thousand or four thousand people who didn’t get to the show” and how it was “a bit of a unique situation.” Genting Arena told the local press that over 8,700 attended from a capacity of 15,500.
I’m aware of the position of others affected because of a Facebook page set up by a fellow fan called David Wilson, calledLet Down by the… Stereophonics which currently has 248 members but is growing daily. Upon starting the group, David emailed the band’s personal assistant Natalie to ask for the band to be told of the gathering momentum and sense of injustice amongst fans on social media.
He sent that email before we noticed that Jamie Morrison was liking posts that suggested that the band knew exactly how we felt and simply don’t care. (Incidentally, Jamie has also liked a comment screenshotting the Facebook page title which is described as “seriously pathetic.”) Some of the Twitter posts appear to have disappeared as word of our campaign is getting through.
Dozens of fans have reported the matter to BBC Watchdog. The Genting Arena abdicated responsibility by saying it was a matter for the promoters and ticketing agents. I bought our tickets from the Ticket Factory who responded to say that, as the show went ahead, they wouldn’t assist. We are now trying to rally media support. The fact that there has been no public announcement of their insulting ‘goodwill gesture’ and a band member is appearing to mock our position is something attention should be drawn to.
A later gig at Wembley was similarly affected and went ahead without thousands of fans. Those affected there are in contact with media closer to the stadium, but I shudder to think how much of our money has been banked, when we have received nothing in return but ridicule and contempt. Of course, no-one is to blame for the snow. Our complaint is first that the shows went ahead at all, but predominantly the fact that the band publicly raised the hopes of thousands of disappointed fans in the glare of negative publicity and then dropped us once media attention had moved on.
The two tickets of my friend and I cost a total of £130. She has multiple sclerosis and works two jobs to make ends meet, and had waited years to see this band live. We had purchased our tickets six months previously, booking two days off work to make the most of the event, not for one second thinking that snow would wreck everything. She has to work for eleven hours to earn enough to pay the £65 for her ticket, so I hope you can forgive us for not letting this go.
All we want is for someone to show us some semblance of goodwill, because the way in which this has been dealt with has left a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of disgruntled fans who work damned hard to have a little enjoyment in their lives and it seems that we’re being shrugged off as an irritation by millionaire musicians who should know better and would appear to place no value on our support.