Caveat Emptor – Let the buyer beware.
Of in this case let the rider beware.
Like many gran fondos the world over, Velo Birmingham on 21 June in Great Britain has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although disappointed, 18,000 registered riders were on board with cancelling to help stop the coronavirus crisis, until they learned the promoter will not issue refunds.
With a minimum entry fee of £79 and 18,000 pre-registered riders, Velo Birmingham stands to pocket at least £1.4M ($1.6M USD) – with no plans to refund any of it.
They causally announced their intentions online, “Put plainly, refunding participant entry fees now is not something our business could absorb,” followed by, “We hope you understand that this situation is completely unprecedented and could not have been foreseen by anyone,” and finally, “We thank you for your understanding.”
Twitter erupted immediately with outrage from registered riders…
Owen @oz1889: @VeloBirmingham keep my entry fee by all means, I’m not facing job loss, but many riders are. Refunding their entry fee would make a difference. I’m not sure how you sleep at night. #velobirmingham #CoronaCrisis #scumbags
Gavin Davies @gavindavies: @VeloBirmingham What a strange way to announce that you no longer wish to run a business – you have failed to understand your moral obligations or your customers’ expectations. Do you really think it’s ok to keep all the money, although you haven’t spent it all? You will never be trusted again!
Stewart Walker @stewartwalker11: @VeloBirmingham Disgusting behaviour. You know damn well that you have made a killing from everyone else’s misfortune. You’ll make a bigger margin now than if the event continued. Refund 50% or carry forward entries to 2021.
Jim Levack @JImblee1: @VeloBirmingham so after a huge backlash from thousands of angry customers, still no further explanation of your shameful actions. I wonder what your partners @britishcycling @BhamCityCouncil and many others make of this #velobirmingham
StuWebb78 @StuWebb_sport: @VeloBirmingham Not the biggest priority given what’s going on but to take £1-£1.5million in entry fees and not give refunds or credits is disgusting. While communities pull together you’ve stolen my £120. No one will touch your events again
Velo Birmingham would have taken riders on 100 or 45-mile routes from the heart of Birmingham through Coventry, including the cobbles of Pepper Lane, before finishing back in Birmingham.