WA’s consumer protection watchdog has issued a stern warning to event organisers about the accuracy of advertising after the blunder of Bali Fest.
In a statement, Consumer Protection warned organisers and promoters of events to ensure their advertising was “accurate” and a “true representation” of what ticket buyers will be offered.
Hundreds of disappointed punters who attended Bali Fest over the Easter long weekend believe they were misled by marketing hype which over promised, but under delivered on the experience of Bali.
Consumer Protection commissioner Lanie Chopping said there is a difference between acceptable marketing hype and misleading consumers.
“Consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law are designed to ensure that goods and services, including events, match the description given or advertised, and be of acceptable quality,” Ms Chopping said.
“If the imagery and statements used in advertising falsely represent what consumers will actually experience when they attend the event, then the organisers or promoters may be required to offer a partial or full refund, as well as leaving themselves open to enforcement action for making false or misleading representations in breach of the ACL.
“That’s apart from the anger they may experience from disappointed customers who will use social media to post bad reviews which will not augur well for planned future events.”
Bali Fest flopped at the Mandurah foreshore over the weekend, with the promise of “bringing Bali and its culture, food entertainment, shopping and leisure lifestyle to Australia”, slammed by angry festival-goers as “false advertising”.
The five-day, $30 ticketed event was also slammed on social media for being a “waste of time”.
Joshua Kaan, who attended the event Friday with his family, said he didn’t get anything “remotely close to a Bali experience”.
“I actually feel sorry for all the people who paid for tickets believing they were getting what was advertised,” Mr Kaan said.
The Perth dad was just one of many to complain about the “disappointing” experience, with several consumers lodging complaints to the ACCC and demanding refunds.
Organiser of Bali Fest Leigh Rose issued a public apology to those who attended the event, and for the lack of cultural representation of the Balinese culture.
“This event was always meant to be a celebration of entertainment and culture while bringing awareness to the struggle in Bali due to COVID, clearly we got this very wrong,” a statement read.
Mr Rose said that Bali Fest will be back bigger and better next year.
“We are going to incorporate all the feedback as best we can. We are going to implement what people have said and work closer with the Indonesian and Balinese communities of WA for next year,” he said.
“COVID did make us limited to what we could provide and that was tough. We tried out best, this was my first big event and I am proud of what we achieved.
“We have apologised and will take everything into account to produce a better Bali Fest next year…we have massive plans for what’s next,” he said.
Mr Rose has estimated they raised about $20,000 for charity.
“There is without no question in our minds the right thing to do is offer full refunds to those who have expressed their disappointment. We have already begun processing refund requests.”
Consumer protection is liaising with the Bali Fest organisers and is recommending disappointed consumers lodge a formal complaint if their request to the organisers for a refund is denied.