With cycling events being cancelled daily during the pandemic, complaints are climbing as riders learn about wide-ranging refund policies that can leave them feeling ripped-off.
Caveat Emptor – Let the buyer beware.
Of in this case let the rider beware.
Stewart Walker registered early for the 21 June Velo Birmingham gran fondo in Great Britain along with 18,000 other riders. In March the promoter cancelled the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic and announced they would keep $1.6M of registration fees.
Stewart was not amused and let his thoughts be known via Twitter, “Disgusting behaviour. You know damn well that you have made a killing from everyone else’s misfortune.”
Unfortunately, Velo Birmingham is not the only event to keep registration fees after cancelling.
The GFNY World Championship race in New York City cancelled the 17 May event two months ago saying registered riders would not be refunded their $300 fee, but entries would carry forward to 2021.
Monica Tomasini voiced frustration at GFNY’S no-refund policy on Twitter, “Beware!!! @GFNY cancelled the 2020 race and is not giving the option to participants to get a refund! Very dishonest practice!!”
Even the 2020 UCI Gran Fondo World Championship event scheduled in Canada has a no-refund policy: “If circumstances require that the entire or a portion of the event is canceled or changed for reasons such as but not limited to extreme weather, fire, poor air quality, landslide, revoked permits, protest, demonstrations, accidents, terrorist incidents, health emergencies or health decries, etc., no refunds will be processed to the participant.”
On the other hand, some promoters are more understanding and are doing the right thing.
After cancelling the 2020 week-long European TOUR Transalp race, the promoter offered riders a choice of receiving a full $1000 refund or a guaranteed starting position in the 2021 edition.
RideLondon, one of the world’s largest amateur events with 30,000 participants, announced it will issue full refunds after cancelling the sold-out 2020 event due to COVID-19.
1700 registered riders at the now cancelled Hotter N Hell 100, event in USA have several options including donating their entry fee to charity, riding a virtual HHH100, deferring entry to 2021 or receive a refund if financially strained due to the pandemic.
So, although we are all eager to ride a gran fondo as soon as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, cyclists should carefully read and understand event refund polices before signing up.
Given the current worldwide uncertainty with regards to when and how mass participation sporting events will occur going forward, we would think twice before signing up for an event that does not offer a full refund in event of cancellation.