Outraged Havelock Country Jamboree ticket-holders continue fight for refunds
Anger and frustration surrounding ticket-holders’ lack of refunds is growing after the storied Havelock Country Jamboree music festival was cancelled for the third year in a row.
Last June, organizers of the Havelock Country Jamboree pulled the plug on the four-day music festival. The move shocked would-be concertgoers, many of whom had been holding onto tickets for years.
On its official website, organizers also cast doubt on whether the 2023 jamboree would go ahead, promising an announcement last fall that never came.
The music festival was last held in 2019, during its 30th anniversary. The jamboree was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Festival organizers pledged to honour tickets bought for the 2020 and 2021 festivals. Frustration with organizers of the Havelock Country Jamboree began as far back as April of last year, when dates for the four-day summer country music festival were set — without a lineup, leaving longtime fans and ticket-holders in the dark.
Organizers encouraged festivalgoers to “hang tight” as they worked on the performer lineup. Even then, ticket-holders were beginning to demand their money back and speculation grew about whether or not the concert would even take place.
But the 2022 cancellation roiled would-be concertgoers further and calls for refunds from jamboree organizers grew.
Last year, some longtime jamboree-goers lamented the fact that they had shelled out thousands of dollars on tickets and campsites. When they tried to contact organizers to obtain a refund, their calls and emails went unanswered, the ticket-holders said. They weren’t getting the refunds they demanded.
Waiting for clarity amid growing confusion, jamboree organizers eventually updated their website in a bid to temper outraged ticket-holders.
Now, months later, on the same Facebook group, where disillusioned jamboree-lovers collectively vent about what they see as a lack of transparency, accountability and even “fraud” from jamboree organizers, most say they still haven’t received a refund.
“We have not seen nor heard from anyone at (Havelock Country Jamboree). Still waiting,” said Jen Coulas. “Tried calling the bank who (told us to) call the credit card company. The credit card company says it’s too far past the date, and no refund.”
Coulas is not alone.
Several ticket-holders tried the same thing — and were met with the same response.
“We were told by Capital One MasterCard in November 2022, that they would not issue a refund because we purchased the tickets in 2019; even though two of the cancellations were due to COVID,” Sharon Starratt, who has been going to the jamboree since 2003, told The Examiner.
But some ticket-holders, like Amber Wellman, have received refunds — just not from the Havelock Country Jamboree.
“After almost three years, I finally got a refund. It was difficult and time consuming. I got a hold of a rep at BMO Mastercard at the end of November 2022,” Wellman said.
“She said it was past the cut off time for the credit card company to refund but they would send a package to Havelock’s banking institution with proof as to why Havelock’s bank should refund it. There was only a week left to do this, I am not sure why that was. I had to send copies of tickets, screenshots of the Havelock website when it postponed the show the first two years and finally the last one where it said they did not know what would happen in 2023.”
“However, I know of lots of people whose banks did not even acknowledge there was anything they could help with,” added Wellman.
Lee Joyce Robinson also received a refund.
“I applied for the refund the day after Havelock Jamboree posted on their website that there would not be a show in 2022,” she said.
She believes the discrepancy between companies offering refunds and refusing to provide them “depends on the type of credit card and who the provider is for the card. Different cards have different “consumer protection” levels. In my case, the card and the provider offered protection against this type of dispute.”
There is still talk online about filing a class-action lawsuit. Whether or not a group of ticket-holders is taking the matter to court, however, is unclear.
Patrick Gerard has been trying to obtain a refund since he spent $880 on tickets in 2020. According to Gerard, he’s tried everything, from wrangling with his credit card company to going to the OPP and the RCMP.
In an email to The Examiner, Const. Dan Gay of the Peterborough County OPP detachment said one individual contacted the department regarding the refunds, but they were unable to reach them after. Gay added that “this does fall under the realm of a civil matter between the owner(s) of the Havelock Jamboree and the individual ticket holders” and said the OPP is not investigating.
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner