Row erupts between hotel and event after Christmas parties are cancelled
- Credit: Archant/Norfolk Christmas Party company
A dispute has broken out between a hotel and event organiser after a series of Christmas parties were cancelled, with one customer claiming they are owed almost £200.
The Norfolk Christmas Party Company was set to host a series of events at the Boudicca Hotel in Caistor St Edmund, beginning on November 29.
However, on November 28, the organiser posted on social media that they had chosen to cancel them.
It has now emerged company and the hotel are in a legal dispute - each saying the other has left them out of pocket. The Norfolk Christmas Party Company alleges the marquee it was due to hire on the hotel's grounds was unfit for purpose due to health and safety concerns.
Julia Pardoe, its owner, alleges that having sent pictures to her public liability insurer she was advised that the venue was "unsuitable".
However the hotel has strongly denied this, saying these reasons are "bogus[…], untrue and not accepted".
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An independent health and safety inspection report carried out on November 28 and seen by this newspaper also states that "there is no visible evidence of deterioration which could cause injury to the guests".
David Toulson-Burk, a hotel consultant who joined the Boudicca Hotel in September to advise the venue moving forward, said: "The Norfolk Christmas Party company has been dragging our name through the mud on social media and has caused a great deal of damage to our reputation.
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"The hotel has also incurred significant losses due to the cancellation."
He also claimed that no concerns had previously been raised to the hotel.
Mr Toulson-Burke went on: "Ahead of the events Ms Pardoe messaged us asking to reduce some of the events, I believe due to lack of sales."
Ms Pardoe denies this, reiterating the events were cancelled due to health and safety concerns.
When asked how many tickets had been sold, Ms Pardoe could not comment.
She added: "I sent out an email to all of the guests eight days before the event. I have been working with Eventbrite and have started issuing refunds."
She also advised customers to contact her directly at email@example.com for enquiries.
Ms Pardoe could not confirm how many refunds have been issued so far, but said they began last week.
On Facebook she wrote: "We are beyond disappointed. We wouldn't have thrown away months and months of hard work without good reason."
But one customer, who wished to remain anonymous, spent £400 on tickets as well as an overnight stay at the hotel.
The customer has been refunded for the hotel, but not the £188 for the tickets she bought back in January.
She claims that Ms Pardoe is no longer answering her calls.
The customer added: "When I first spoke to the organiser she said I could get my money back through Eventbrite, but when I went on the website there wasn't even a 'refund' button on there.
"So I called her and she said I need to go to my bank, which couldn't help me because I had paid on a cash card. So I called her again and she said she was in discussions with Eventbrite. I called her nearly every day but she's stopped answering."
The customer went on: "I felt sick to my stomach, I genuinely thought I had been scammed and lost three other people their money.
"I've been told different things by the hotel and the organiser, I just don't know who to believe. You've got to wonder why the organiser only checked the venue where she was supposed to be holding these big events just a week before they were due start. Surely if it was such a big deal you would be better prepared?"
Ms Pardoe said that she was working through the queries and there had been some delays due to volume.