Essential Festival -- the verdict. from Trading standards
Tuesday September 17, 2002 13:29 by ffwd choke
I don't know if anyone here complained to Trading Standards about the rip-off merchants who organised Essential Festival, but if you did then you'll be getting the following letter:
Trading Standards wrote:
ESSENTIAL ENTERTAINMENTS LTD
ESSENTIAL FESTIVAL - BRISTOL - 4TH - 6TH MAY 2002
As you will recall, you recorded a complaint with Bristol Trading Standards Service against the above company. I am now in a position to inform you of our enquiries and their outcome.
This Service made a number of enquiries with ticket agencies, the agents for the acts concerned, other local authority Trading Standards services and others involved with the local promotion. It appears that Essential Entertainments Limited realised that the Indie/Rock Day had poor ticket sales and attempted to renegotiate the terms of their contracts with the agents of some of the acts appearing on that day. This caused a number of the agents to withdraw their acts completely. Others agreed to the renegotiated contracts and played on the day.
There were also a number of acts who failed to appear on the Roots Day. The reasons for these are not so straightforward and seem to be concerned with various problems with the individual acts themselves. It is also clear from our enquiries that Essential did very little to alert customers to the fact that certain bands would not be appearing as advertised.
Following these enquiries, a meeting was held with representatives from Essential on 14th June. All the points made by the complainants were put to the representatives and they conceded that they had made a number of errors. During the meeting a verbal offer was made of a refund to all those who had complained to Bristol Trading Standards Service.
Shortly after the meeting a letter was sent to Essential seeking clarification and written confirmation of the offer. Unfortunately, despite several e-mails, telephone calls and letters, this was not forthcoming. As you may well be aware, soon after this Essential called off its planned festival at Hackney Marshes in July. Recent information indicates that the company is currently not trading and has vacated its premises in Brighton.
The consequence of this is that any complainant to Bristol Trading Standards Service, who feels that they were misled as to what bands they would see perform when they bought their tickets, is free to write to Essential Entertainments Limited at their Registered Office address of 9 Church Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1US and ask for an amount in refund sufficient to compensate them for their loss. This is unlikely to exceed the cost of the ticket and in most cases would be less. They can cite the offer made by Essential to Bristol Trading Standards Service. A copy of this letter and proof of posting should be retained. If then there is no satisfactory response to this letter, then individual complainants will have to decide whether they wish to pursue an action under the Small Claims Procedure in the County Court. However, considering what we understand of the current trading situation of the company, commencing such an action in the County Court may be of little purpose.
If, as it appears, the company has ceased trading, this will significantly limit the action that this Service can usefully take. It is most likely that we will refer aspects of the events relating to the Essential Festival at Bristol that gave rise to complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (in relation to restrictive conditions on tickets) and the Department of Trade and Industry (in respect of company practice and directors responsibilities).
I am afraid that this is not a totally satisfactory, if not uncommon, conclusion to this investigation.