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Hellfest Fans Still Wait For Refunds [Sep. 5th, 2005|08:08 am]


An estimated 1,000 people still haven’t received refunds on tickets from Trenton’s canceled Hellfest concert, and many are complaining that the promoters are ignoring them.

More than 3,500 fans who bought tickets at the Sovereign Bank Arena box office, through its ticket hotline or with a credit card have received full refunds.

But those who purchased at records shops in the region or through an Internet provider, especially people from overseas, are still waiting for refunds on passes that sold for up to $120 each.

Shawn Van Der Poel, a key show organizer, would not comment for this report. But he told The Trentonian on Aug. 19 that about $30,000 worth of tickets were sold at shops or on the Web.

Last week, Rich Boblenz of Tunes Music record shop in Marlton said he keeps turning away fans seeking refunds and that many are angry about it.

"We just have a statement we give them that says we are not responsible. It’s Hellfest’s problem," said Boblenz, noting the store sold about 40 discounted $100 tickets for the show.

"We gave Hellfest the money for the tickets sold before it was canceled. That’s why we can’t give any money back," he said.

Last month, Van Der Poel said the money taken in from record store sales was spent on deposits for Hellfest insurance, safety requirements and promotional attractions like the Tim Glomb skate park set up outside the SBA.

"If they go to a record store and try to get their money back, they will basically cripple the record stores and we don’t want to do that," Van Der Poel said last month.

"So once we have a chance to collect that money back, it will go back into Pay Pal (the Internet distributor) and everybody who has requested a refund will be paid out in the order the refunds came in," Van Der Poel told The Trentonian.

"The game plan with the ticket money is we have a lot of money out for deposits right now, whether it was for fencing or tents or our insurance policy, which was $22,000," Van Der Poel said. "All that money needs to come back."

But he hasn’t been seen or heard from since, frustrating an aide to none other than U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.

"They haven’t put anything on the website. That frustrates me," said Amit Patel, 25, a legislative correspondent for the senator who lives in Washington D.C.

Patel had a friend in New York buy him the discounted $100 tickets for Generation Records. He planned on staying nearby the weekend of the show and ended up driving up to see Lifetime, Good Clean Fun, and Comeback Kid in the Hellfest makeup shows that went off in Philadelphia.

"To me, I have a regular job, so $100 is not going to make or break me, but a lot of kids that are younger it’s a lot of money to them," Patel continued. "It’s not the money, it’s the principle. Let the kids know what’s going on, kids are getting upset."

Inaki Campos, 31, had just flown in from Eibar, Spain, when he heard the concert was canceled. A writer with the metal ‘zine "Crime Syndicate," Campos had had a friend from Jersey buy his tickets at Tunes.

Campos hasn’t gotten his refund and fears he never will: "I feel in the dark and helpless, too."

More than 6,000 fans of heavy metal music, many of them vegetarians who reject promiscuous sex, were poised to descend on Trenton and the SBA when the show was canceled at the last minute on Aug. 18.

Arena officials said Paper Street Music, the group behind the event, didn’t get the proper insurance to fit a large-scale concert, which called for a five-stage show, and pulled the plug Public Enemy, Killswitch Engage and 180 other bands slated to perform.

Paper Street Music filed a civil suit in Burlington County against Global Spectrum Aug. 17 asking for more than of $100,000 in damages, according to court papers.

Van Der Poel said they spent $100,000 on the bands, out of $350,000 in their talent budget. But they missed some deadlines because the arena was holding onto advance ticket sales, Van Der Poel said.

"The reason why those deposits didn’t go out, and really it was only $20,000 in deposits, was because the arena was supposed to settle with us first for all the first-round of advance ticket sales and they dragged their feet doing that," he said. "That’s why money was so tight."

They would need that money back, along with $65,000 spent on production, before there would be enough money to give back refunds, Van Der Poel said in August. --The Trentonian 9/5/05 Scott Frost