Goodbye Walker Stalker
Hundreds of previously burned Walker Stalker / Fan Fest convention goers predicted it would happen.
The London event scheduled for this upcoming weekend is no more. Presumably, James Frazier, the owner of Fan Fest Events, Fan Fest News, and Walker Stalker LLC – posted the following on Facebook on February 17th – just a few days before the scheduled start of the London convention:
Side note: It asks that inquiries be directed to their base contact email, firstname.lastname@example.org – but don’t expect a reply. Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, have used that email to request updates on refunds they were owed – with no response given.
It’s a damn shame
Admittedly, I was a huge fan of their events. Both (Heroes and Villains) Fan Fest and Walker Stalker con were things to look forward to… but over the last year a half things started to fall apart in some big ways.
What once was a convention loved and attended by thousands has become a stain on the industry as a whole.
While I never worked for them – I did have the opportunity to attend some of their events as a member of the press and was one of the lucky ones that hosted/moderated a number of panels.
I tried really hard to hold out hope that Frazier could somehow turn things around… I even offered him my own services and help to right the wrongs – and he unfortunately ignored all of my offers.
So, what the heck happened?
That’s a pretty loaded question… but in a semi-quick nutshell…
Money was mismanaged in a terrible way – so much so, that celebrity guests, contractors, venues, and more were never paid. There are A LOT of celebrities that used social media to share their stories of contracts not being upheld and even checks bouncing.
And what about the convention fans that purchased admission or selected services (think: photo ops) that never came to fruition? Thousands of people are still waiting for refunds and, more than likely, will never see them.
Without actually diving into the finances of the various LLCs that create these conventions – I can only guess… But, here’s what I believe has happened and why, ultimately, no one will ever get their money.
A lawyer turned podcaster had an idea that blew up overnight… It made millions… He overspent. On himself and those around him – and while he was once a lawyer, that doesn’t make him a businessman. And that’s where it went wrong – overspending and not enough preparation for potential “hiccups” in business.
Hiccups like… celebrities having to cancel creating the need for pre-purchased photo refunds or events needing to be moved, rescheduled, or canceled…
For example… Say there’s Convention “A” that is a success… It makes XYZ amount of dollars to allow for a Convention “B” to happen in the future. Using the XYZ money, payments are made to secure a venue, some talent, employees, etc… But, along the way, while bringing in ticket sales for Convention “B”, they decide to use that money to create Convention “C” and Convention “D” as well…
Suddenly they’re spending a ton of money, projecting certain ticket sales, photo op percentages, etc…
Celebrities have to back out of Convention “B”, and Convention “C” suddenly needs to be rescheduled… And instead of having the original XYZ money to return money to customers, venues, or vendors – they’ve already spent it on upcoming conventions…
So instead of using profit from one convention to fund the next… it suddenly changed to taking ticket sales for a future convention, and paying back for an older one that had some of those “hiccups.”
Robbing Peter to pay Paul…
It becomes an endless cycle… Schedule a convention, use those ticket sales to not only attempt to fund that scheduled event, but also try to pay back monies that were owed to so many different people.
There’s no way to sustain a financial model that pays for both the future and a broken past… And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of what Frazier may have paid himself or used for his own gain.
But, wait, there’s more…
The broken past has created a broken present and an impossible future. According to a recent article from the Newham Recorder (a British publication), it’s not just vendors, guests, celebrities, and ticket buyers owed money… There are numerous tax liens against the owner of Fan Fest/Walker Stalker – and his home is about to be sold in foreclosure.
Is it possible to survive all this?
It would take a PR campaign never before seen and a multi-million dollar investment from someone/something to make that happen. Even new ownership with new branding would have such a huge hill to climb – it’s just doesn’t make sense.
So many celebrities have backed out and are refusing to ever participate again – and with so many other quality convention options available to fans – it’s time for Frazier to pull the plug for good and allow fans and celebs to move on.
Why continue to cause strife and heartache? Why continue to take hard-earned dollars from unsuspecting folks?
The answer: He shouldn’t.
About those refunds?
Some people have had success receiving refunds through their bank and/or credit card company. If you haven’t already opened a dispute, you absolutely should at least try. A traditional refund may never come your way, so we highly recommend trying.
There have been dozens of complaints to local Better Business Bureau offices as well as fans contacting local district attorneys. I’m not sure the possible success rate of any of this – as an LLC is fairly well protected when it comes to financial matters.
Not to mention a number of unpaid vendors have already filed suit against the company – so whatever money is available may be used up in litigation. Attempt those chargebacks now.
So, Now What?
I’m saddened to see what’s happened to a once great set of events. I’m dismayed to see all the people hurt by the choices that have been made.
For those that ever visited a Walker Stalker or Fan Fest event – enjoy the memories you made. Hopefully a lot of you were like me – and had a great time.
For those that have been hurt and are still owed money – whether it be a vendor, celebrity guest, or fan – Keep your head up and don’t give up on the industry.
There’s a lot of great conventions and organizers out there – Don’t let all the WSC/Fan Fest drama ruin what can be an experience of a lifetime…
Update Feb 18, 2020 11:14am Eastern Time…
It appears all Fan Fest / WSC websites have been taken offline.
Update Feb 18, 2020 12:20pm Eastern Time…
It appears all Fan Fest websites are up and operational (with tickets listed, but not available for sale), and the WSC site continues to be offline.
Update Feb 19, 2020 1:11pm Eastern Time…
The WSC website now has an image and says a site update is coming. I can’t imagine what they could possibly be posting.
Also, it was announced that yesterday, Tennessee’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the company.
Update Feb 19, 2020 1:11pm Eastern Time…
A number of other conventions/events have stepped up with offers for those affected by the London cancellation. We’ve listed them here.
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