Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

Pizza ‘Fyre’ Fest Promises Refunds For Enraged Attendees

September 14, 2017

As published by Gothamist, on September 13, 2017.

A day after the NY Attorney General’s office opened an inquiry into the Pizza (and Hamburger) Festival fiasco that attendees likened to Fyre Festival, disappointed attendees may have restitution on the horizon. A note posted to Facebook this morning—signed by organizer Ishmael Osekre and the “Pizza/BurgerFest Team”—claims festival attendees will be issued refunds for tickets they purchased to the failed events.

“After careful deliberation, and much back and forth about our customer’s best interest, we have agreed on REFUNDING ALL TICKETS from the pizza and burger festivals,” the post reads. “Thanks for your patience in helping us get to the buttom of this. We haven’t made any direct statement to the press because resolving customer concerns was a priority and focusing on that first has been more important to us at this time.”

According to the note, refunds will be issued pending an arrangement Osekre has been working out with Eventbrite, which was the primary ticketing source for Saturday’s festivals. (Eventbrite did not immediately respond to our inquiry this morning.) [See update below.] Some attendees who purchased tickets through Goldstar, a different ticketing service, have already been refunded.

Osekre also used Wednesday morning’s Facebook post to lay blame on both the media and unnamed pizzerias in Brooklyn, alluding to prior claims he made regarding “timely delivery of food [delaying] the fun experience we all looked forward to.”

“Few newspapers have said a lot without facts, quotes, or context. We respect their right to make claims, sometimes as clickbaits, but we also believe in the hardworking pizzerias in Brooklyn and we did not feel it was right to simply blame them or supporting partners for issues that impacted the event negatively,” Osekre said in the Facebook post. “We wanted to resolve these issues as a team, in order to ensure that all concerns were fairly and properly addressed.”

Osekre’s statement did not do much to quell the angry mob on Facebook, with one commenter responding, “If you really believe you guys messed up, you should have been advocating for your customers from the get go acknowledging that there were clearly issues and then go about making it right.” Another retorted, “You should have resolved it DAY OF the event. I don’t know if you should be running food events in the future, to be honest, Ishmael.”

In previous communication with enraged festival attendees, Osekre also placed blame on a company he hired to provide a space and equipment for Saturday’s festivals. The company, Hangry Garden, has refuted this claim, saying Osekre did not pay them for their services and they were forced to withdraw.

But Osekre’s post concludes: “As event producers, we take full responsibility for the outcome of the experience.”

Gothamist has made repeated efforts to contact Osekre, who has not responded to any request for comment.

Update: Osekre spoke exclusively to Gothamist about what went wrong at Saturday’s event.

Second update: A spokesperson for Eventbrite shared with Gothamist the following statement regarding the festivals, refunds, and future events by Osekre. Emphasis ours:

On behalf of everyone at Eventbrite, we want to sincerely apologize for this poor experience. We ticket millions of events each year and go to great lengths to ensure all customers are treated fairly when something doesn’t go as planned.Our Terms of Service specifies that organizers set and manage the refund policies for their events, however, in the rare instance that an event significantly under-delivers on what was advertised in the listing, we thoroughly investigate the reported issue(s) and work with all parties toward a timely resolution.

We reviewed both the New York Pizza Festival and New York Burger Festival and issued full refunds today to all attendees that purchased their ticket(s) through Eventbrite.Thereis no action necessary on their end and they can expect to see the refund on their credit/debit card statement within the next 7 business days. We have also taken appropriate action to ensure this event creator is no longer permitted to use Eventbrite for future events.