Motivational guru leaves fans out of pocket

 

A company is refusing to refund $6500-a-pop tickets to see motivational guru Tony Robbins, despite the six-day speaking event already being rescheduled twice.

Robbins' Date with Density was supposed to have been held at the 4000-capacity Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in April but was delayed because of COVID-19.

Its rescheduled date of September was moved back to May 2021.

However, many ticketholders say that cannot make the revised date and have asked for a refund.

Others who paid more than $1000 for a two-day Unleash the Power Within experience which included a fire-walk say they also want their cash back after event organiser Success Resources Australia (SRA) decided to make it a virtual experience. As one upset customer said, "you can't fire-walk in your loungeroom".

Tony Robbins.
Tony Robbins.

Instead of a refund, SRA has given ticketholders the option of rescheduling or using the money for other SRA events. It said access to an online virtual event with Robbins was also offered free of charge.

Tony Robbins has created a multimillion-dollar empire conducting seminars and motivational infomercials across the world for more than 30 years.

His Date with Destiny event promises to take guests on a journey to "creating an extraordinary life".

Gold Coast man Adam Grbcic, who forked out $7495 for his Diamond ticket, said he had contacted SRA numerous times and waited months for a refund. He is now pursuing legal options.

"I was happy to change the first time, but to see it happen again, you just can't keep taking time off work whenever they move the dates," Mr Grbcic said.

"It is a lot of money for a lot of people and simply isn't a fair way of dealing with customers."

Mr Grbcic argued that if he instead chose to attend the virtual conference or another SRA event he should be refunded the difference.

Mr Grbcic said he also contacted Tony Robbins directly over the matter.

"The team sympathised and suggested it would not be a problem - so it's so disappointing to see that this continues to be a poor experience with the organising company."

Helensvale mother-of-five Amanda Best, who purchased two tickets for $8100 in July 2019, said Date with Density was a "bucket list" experience that had turned into a nightmare.

"We have kids so we can't keep planning around a changing event," she said.

Mrs Best said the virtual alternative was also unworkable as it asked users to remain online from 7am to 10pm.

Robbins fans in Sydney who have also had their events rescheduled by SRA shared in the frustrations.

The Bulletin spoke to a number of other disgruntled ticketholders who have started a Facebook group seeking refunds.

Adelaide programmer Peter Renieir paid $2034.91 for two tickets to a four-day event at Sydney's Olympic Park, featuring the popular Tony Robbins fire-walk experience.

The event is now a virtual summit, and tickets are valued at $395.

Mr Renieir said he made multiple attempts to get a refund for the difference, but it had been denied.

"I can't fire-walk in my loungeroom, that was the main attraction," he said.

"They are taking huge amounts of money from people and giving them nothing in return. It isn't like they have to cap virtual events so they have the opportunity to make their money back."

NEWARK, NJ - JULY 22:  Tony Robbins speaks on stage during Tony Robbins LIVE: Unleash the Power Within at Prudential Center on July 22, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Robbins Research International)
NEWARK, NJ - JULY 22: Tony Robbins speaks on stage during Tony Robbins LIVE: Unleash the Power Within at Prudential Center on July 22, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Robbins Research International)

Like Mr Grbcic, Mr Renieir is pursuing the matter with the NSW Civil Administrative Tribunal.

He claimed SRA had also changed its terms and conditions on its website.

A spokesman for SRA said it acknowledged the pandemic's challenges.

"As a business we are not immune to this. However, our focus is to continue to help Australians through these unprecedented times."

The company said all costs associated with the original Gold Coast event had been incurred when it was first postponed.

"With the pandemic being outside of our control, we do reserve the right to postpone and sympathise with our customers, who like us were disappointed at not being able to attend the event."

The company offered no other options but emphasised the free virtual event.

"The live virtual events have been provided so that attendees have access to the strategies of Tony to help them navigate through these difficult times. Tony's work is based upon dealing with adversity and coming through it as stronger human beings."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said when an event was cancelled due to government restrictions, consumers' rights under the consumer guarantees were impacted.

"The ACCC urges consumers who are unhappy with the remedy they have received to check the terms and conditions that were provided by the company, likely via email, at the time of booking.

"State and territory consumer protection agencies may be able to assist with guidance or conciliation involving relevant state legislation."



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