About a month ago, I shared a high-level view of what had happened in Schrödinger’s Packet. At the time, I referred to the Race Organizer as ‘ROX’. After what occurred today, I am providing a much more detailed blog post — including dropping the ‘ROX’ tag.
As many of you know by now, I do a lot of long-range planning. Knowing what the goal races were for 2020, I needed a couple of long May races. When I went through the options, what made sense were a pair run by RAM Racing (formally ‘ROX’). While I was still frustrated with what had happened at Hot Chocolate in late 2019, the Race Director (RD) had always been accomodating. So I decided to set those feelings off to the side and move forward.
[As an aside, what I am referring to is how they did the tear-off fundraising in 2019. From the pre-race announcements, it sounded like THEY were donating all the money. As I found out 3-4 weeks post-race, WE donated all that money. ‘Nice’ surprise to see an extra charge come out of nowhere.]
When I registered for the Cinco de Miler race (pre-COVID), I understood the terms. They are all of the standard ones that racers all sign umpteen times per year. As COVID started to change the landscape, they also changed things.
Towards the end of March, they sent out an e-mail that essentially said ‘We have unilaterially changed the contract that you signed when you registered. This is now a virtual race without refund. We will have packets to you by race day (5/2/20).’ And while I’m not a fan of VIrtual races in general, the story would have ended there IF the packets had arrived by 5/2. I would have used the race gear and tried to make the best of it.
However, the packets were not shipped until AFTER the race weekend. As they (a) breached the modified contract and (b) had not fulfilled paid for goods/services, I asked for a refund. The responses that I received from Pat (speaking for RAM) were essentially ‘we had sunk costs. We’re not doing any refunds.’
While they can say that, I personally don’t believe it. This change was made roughly 5 weeks prior. Most contracts have clauses to cover unforseen issues like this. Or even if this one didn’t, 5 weeks is enough lead time to minimize any city-based fees. If the police aren’t physically out there, maybe you pay 15% of the contract to cover any additional scheduling they put in place. But IMO, you’re certainly not paying 100% of your city-based sunk costs.
I think the best case that illustrates my belief of how laughable their statements are is the Shamrock Shuffle. I believe at about 3 weeks out, they pulled the plug. At a MINIMUM, they refunded $2M in registration fees. That’s on top of whatever minimal sunk costs they had to incur. I can’t remember hearing a single word from them about ‘poor us; COVID caused a cancellation’. In fact, in addition to doing FULL refunds, they will eventually send out 2020 swag.
The other part that IMO makes their statements laughable is just common sense. If you’re any part of the exterior (i.e. police, city services, etc) that generate revenue from the race, you’re not going to say ‘we want 100%; we don’t care about COVID.’ Simply because IF you do that, there’s a very strong likelyhood that the RO will fight you on it, eventually begrudingly pay 100%, and then move every race from 2021 forward to the suburbs.
But since they wouldn’t be reasonable, I disputed the charge. On what was most likely the final day for them to respond, they apparently just brought up the ‘registration said no refunds.’ Now, if they hadn’t materially and unilaterally changed the contract, that would be true. However, this falls under non-performance / non-deliverance of goods/services as promised. That’s been covered by Visa(R)/MasterCard(R) as a valid dispute for years. I spoke with my bank earlier today and shared a synposis view of this blog. Hopefully this will get resolved and I’ll keep the provisional credit.
Regardless, I do not plan to EVER do a RAM Racing event again. When this is their response to what’s happened, I do not have any confidence in doing a future event with them.
And for the record, Cinco de Miler is the ONLY race that this has happened with. EVERY OTHER RD has offered 3 of refund, deferral, transfer or donate as the options. Some of them have just auto-deferred everyone to 2021. So while it’s been a frustrating 2020 season, I know it will be a VERY full 2021 season.