Toronto

Fans demand refunds after company cancels Harry Potter-themed evening ball and market

Some disappointed Harry Potter fans may be in need of a magic spell to go back in time. The die hard fans say they’ve been unable to secure refunds for a Harry Potter-themed event that’s now been postponed two times due to legal issues.

Organizer originally postponed the event due to a legal challenge by Warner Bros.

Daniel Radcliffe starred in the massively popular Harry Potter film series. Fans in the Toronto area had hoped to immerse themselves in the wizarding world during an extravagant Potter-themed ball and artisan market. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Disappointed fans of the Harry Potter franchise may be in need of a magic spell after a company abruptly cancelled a pair of events, leaving customers out hundreds of dollars.

Perhaps Hermione Granger's time-turner would do the trick?

The super fans say they've been unable to secure refunds for a Harry Potter-themed event that's now been postponed indefinitely due to legal issues. It's the second time in two months the event has been put on ice.

"I have no idea if this company is even still in existence," said Krista-Marie Bergeron, who bought two tickets for about $100 each.

The event's organizer, Muggles and Magic, originally scheduled its "Yule Ball and Yule Time Magic Market" on Dec. 8, but it abruptly cancelled the event after a legal challenge from Warner Bros., which produced the Harry Potter film series.

"We accept full responsibility for not investigating the legal ramifications of hosting the event and hope you will give us a chance to make it up to you," the company wrote in a statement on its website.

"I was appalled, like why would you not ask the people who hold the trademark if you're doing an event?" said ticket-buyer Lucas Pascale-Pallotta.

Organizers advertised extravagant market and ball

A description of the event promised a Hogsmeade-style daytime market featuring more than 40 vendors, sword fighting, psychics and "butterbeer." It was to be followed by a 19-and-over evening ball and costume contest. Organizers also said actor Stanislav Ianevski, who played the wizard Viktor Krum in the film series, would attend the event.

"We are so deeply sorry. We were not prepared for this outcome," the company wrote.

A rescheduled event was planned for Saturday in Toronto, but that event has also been cancelled due to what the company calls "numerous obstacles."

A photo used by Muggles and Magic to advertise the original event, which has now been indefinitely postponed. (Muggles and Magic)

Travelling fans 'fuming'

Pascale-Pallotta, who lives in Montreal, said he was "fuming" after the first cancellation. He rescheduled to his train ticket for the new date before it too was cancelled.

"Our weekend is basically ruined," said Pascale-Pallotta, who's still making the trip to Toronto. He paid close to $300 for the train and event tickets, he said, which have not been refunded.

After the delays and a claimed lack of communication, Potterheads say they've given up hope in the company and event.

Bergeron said the company has not responded to any of her inquiries, which she has made over email, phone, Facebook posts and the contact form on the Muggles and Magic website.

"It's not good business," Bergeron told CBC Toronto. "It's just unacceptable."

Muggles and Magic has not responded to emails or phone calls from CBC Toronto.

Fans booked hotels, bought costumes

Bergeron, who lives in Oshawa, booked a hotel in Toronto for the night of the original event and a costume for the evening ball.

She was able to cancel her hotel booking, she said, but the costume is now a sunk cost.

"I did spend almost $200 on a bright yellow ball gown that cannot be worn anywhere else, really," she said with a laugh.

Charlotte O'Donovan, who planned to go to the ball with her husband, said the company's behaviour has been inexcusable. She's also looking for a refund but hasn't been able to reach organizers.

"I think it's really awful what they've done. I understand the legal issues and again, they should have thought about that before calling it anything to do with Harry Potter," she said.

"Just give back the people their money," O'Donovan added. "Just admit you were wrong."

Company promising refunds

In an update posted to its website, Muggles and Magic said its offering customers a full ticket refund and 50 per cent of all non-refundable hotel and travel costs. The notice says the refunds will be available starting Feb. 18, 2019.

O'Donovan said she's instead trying to have the money refunded through her bank, since she doesn't trust that the company will deliver on its promise.

She advises other ticket-buyers should do the same.

"If they're waiting for the company to refund their money, I don't think that's happening," O'Donovan said.

The disappointed fans tell CBC Toronto they should have done more research before buying expensive tickets for an event hosted by a company without an obvious track record.

"They really hyped it up so I literally had no second thoughts about it," O'Donovan said.

Bergeron said she has simple advice for anyone looking into a similarly mysterious event in the future: "be wary."

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