Two days since the abrupt cancellation of what was touted as the biggest K-pop concert in Singapore, concert organiser Fatfish Entertainment has yet to offer a concrete explanation or plans for refunds.
The MBC Korean Music Wave fiasco has left many fans who paid between $168 and $688 for their tickets frustrated and wondering if they will get their money back.
Ms Jaclyn Ng, 50, paid for a $688 ticket for her teenage daughter and also a night's stay at the hotel where she says the K-pop stars were supposed to be put up.
She says: "My daughter and her friends were terribly upset when they heard of the cancellation - they wept. She felt bad that she made me pay so much for the ticket and now we're not sure if I will get the money back.
"What if Fatfish declares it cannot pay up? In circumstances such as these, are we first or last in line to get our money back? This is a real lesson for us." She adds that she will never buy tickets for a large-scale show like this again unless it is planned by a credible organiser.
The event, which was supposed to be held at Gardens by the Bay on Nov 16, boasted a star-studded line-up of 13 Korean music acts, including Shinee, 2PM, 2AM, FT Island, Teen Top, Kara and 4Minute.
Fatfish Entertainment on Wednesday said it pulled the plug "due to unforeseen circumstances including contractual difficulties" with its co-producer, Korean broadcaster giant Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). The concert organiser declined to elaborate further when Life! contacted it on Thursday.
A spokesman for MBC said the company was "now in preparation of its official announcement related to the cancellation" of the event. He did not say when they would be giving the announcement.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Fatfish said it was "ascertaining how this cancellation will affect our financial position", adding: "We are currently seeking professional advice to see how we can best refund our ticketholders and other creditors."
Secondary school student Nurul Raufa Ai'nie, 13, expressed disappointment over Fatfish Entertainment's explanation and hopes it "will be blacklisted" in future.
She says: "I'm not really happy with the explanation. It should have told us earlier and not at the last minute. I really hope to get my refund."
The ticketing website for the concert, singtic.com, lists only one event - the cancelled gig.
The company also shares the same registered address, at Ayer Rajah Crescent, as Fatfish Entertainment. A check with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority revealed that Fatfish Entertainment has a paid-up capital of $10,000 and has three shareholders, South Korean Kang Seoung Jun and two Singapore permanent residents, Mr Lau Kin Wai and Mr Ng Kok Thye. Singtic has a paid-up capital of $30,000 and is wholly owned by a Singaporean, Mr Huang Chi-Kai.
Engineer Sally Wong, 35, bought a $368 ticket and says she was "pretty surprised" that the show was cancelled because the partners and sponsors included big names such as StarHub and Singapore Airlines.
She adds: "Things are supposed to be done properly here so the reputation of Singapore as an organiser is at stake."
The Consumers Association of Singapore's executive director, Mr Seah Seng Choon, says it is "a breach of contract for the show organiser for not fulfilling its part of the contract" and disgruntled consumers can seek recourse through the Small Claims Tribunal.
He adds that in the light of several concert and festival cancellations in the past year, show organisers should be more transparent about the period and manner of refund "to help boost consumer confidence".
Concert organiser Retfar Entertainment Singapore cancelled the 1 World Music Festival in September just a day before the event, but refunded customers immediately. Midas Promotions cancelled Japanese pop star Namie Amuro's April 26 concert but refunded all sold tickets only in July.
Mr Seah says: "Refund arrangements are often left open to interpretation and are left to the discretion of the organisers. It would be reasonable to expect them to make clear their policy on refunding tickets in the event of a no-show."
An industry insider with experience in organising K-pop gigs, who did not want to be named, offered some insight on possible reasons for the cancellation.
She thinks the production cost, reportedly $2.5 million, could have been too high. The set-up was also logistically complicated as there are several price points for the Gardens by the Bay venue, which is usually split into just VIP and regular areas.
She adds: "With so many groups of artists, even divvying up the backstage space for holding areas will be difficult. It is possible that the costs exceeded the initial budget. There is also the possibility of the Korean side adding on things at the last minute. It is always a negotiation process when bringing in any concert."
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