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Now Maitreya Festival is being sued by their ticketing company

The organisers of failed festival Maitreya are now being sued by their ticketing company for more than $400,000, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The Victorian festival was cancelled at the eleventh hour in March, after organisers failed to secure the permit required to go ahead. In May promoters announced that they were “unable” to offer refunds to those who purchased tickets to the event, despite being legally obligated to.

Now, Maitreya’s ticketing company TryBooking is suing the festival organisers for six figures’ worth of ticket revenue that remains unaccounted for.  TryBooking say that more than $1 million worth of tickets had been sold to the event before it was cancelled on March 10, and that organisers withdrew more than $950,000 from their TryBooking account between September 2015 and March 2016.

The ticketing company says it refunded $520, 524 to customers who purchased tickets through the company – likely via bank-ordered credit card chargebacks, as TryBooking indicated to inthemix in March they would not be volunteering refunds – and are now $409, 082 out of pocket.

“The event organiser has not cooperated with us on a refund process as required by our terms and conditions, leading to us pursuing them via legal avenues,” TryBooking CEO Jeff McAlister said in a statement.

The SMH report that several international DJs who were due to play at Maitreya have been paid their full fee by organisers. But months after the event was due to take place, ticket holders who were not eligible to receive are credit card chargeback are still being ignored by organisers and venting their frustrations on the festival’s Facebook page.

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In May organisers announced that instead of offering refunds, they planned to hold a make-up event “exclusively for ticket holders” in September at Maitreya’s original site at Lake Wooroonook. But only days later, The Buloke Shire Council told local press that they had not approved Maitreya to stage a replacement event and would not grant them a permit. Organisers have not made any further public announcements and will not respond to inthemix’s requests for comment.

In the wake of Maitreya’s cancellation, Consumer Affairs Victoria advised ticket holders to request a refund from the company that sold them the festival ticket. But TryBooking would not answer inthemix’s questions about how punters could obtain a refund, saying only that they should contact Maitreya directly.

Oztix CEO Brian Chadill told The Music that he is “hearing a lot of cases of small ticket companies – in order to win the business –  are giving the promoter the ticket funds instead of holding them in trust for the patrons.”

“That’s all okay until the promoter, having spent all the money, can’t get the event to happen and then there is no money for refunds,” Chadill explained. In their legal filing, TryBooking say that festival organisers were able to access their funds with express permission from the ticketing company, but that any funds withdrawn were meant to be repaid within two days.

Crowdsourcing website Maitreya Refunds are “interested in hearing from anyone that would be keen to pursue legal action against the organisers” and advises ticket holders to report Maitreya to authorities like Scamwatch and Consumer Affairs Victoria. Ticket holders can contact Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 8181 and Scamwatch via their website.

Katie Cunningham is the Editor of inthemix. She is on Twitter.