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COVID-19: Fieldays fudges over refunds

Written by  Mark Danie, Rural News:

 

While the wider agricultural sector comes to grips with the uncertainty of COVID-19, one prominent organisation is hanging onto its customers’ money for an event it is unlikely to deliver.

The New Zealand National Fieldays Society (NZNFS) has ‘postponed’ this year’s annual event, scheduled for June.

It is also currently hanging on to the site fees paid by exhibitors at the start of the year.

Many exhibitors, who have approached Rural News, report business has reduced to a trickle since the implementation of the Level 4 lockdown and they are struggling with cashflow. They say they need the refund of their site fees. They claim it is unfair to have paid for an event that is not going to take place when it was scheduled – if at all.

NZNFS says it is holding onto the money to stabilise its own business.

“The ramifications of seeing National Fieldays disappearing will have a profound effect on the greater agricultural industry, but also those who form a key part of the event,” chief executive Peter Nation told Rural News.

“There could be job losses over a wide arena – such as marquee hire companies, stand fitters, caterers and many other service providers.”

This same problem is facing many other NZ businesses and raises questions about whether it is morally right for NZNFS to hold onto its customers’ money.

Even if the Level-4 lockdown is eased in the coming weeks, lesser restrictions – even when lowered to Level 1 – still forbid the gatherings of more than 500 people. This will mean that Fieldays this year is effectively not postponed, but in fact cancelled.

NZNFS say it is reviewing the situation on a three-monthly basis and looking at the possibility of rescheduling the event for later in the year. However, if the delay pushes the event into spring, farmers will be in the midst of calving or lambing, and unlikely to attend. If it is held even later in the year it would clash with harvesting operations.

The NZNFS position contrasts poorly with that of the Central District Field Days (CD), who at one week’s notice cancelled the event and immediately refunded 100% of the site fees paid by exhibitors. This move generated much positive PR for CD and a huge sigh of relief from its exhibitors.

As Rural News went to press, the NZNFS stance was that it will review the possibility of holding the event before the end of the year and if this should not happen, it will consider a refund.

Interestingly, by that point it is likely site fees for the 2021 event will be due.

While the exact financial position of National Fieldays is unknown, it’s safe to assume that the pre-paid site fees for the 2020 event will run into many millions of dollars. The organisation has already received a payment in excess of $161,000 for 23 employees under the Government’s wage subsidy programme.

When asked directly by Rural News if the organisation will refund exhibitors who have already paid a spokesperson for Fieldays replied:

“We are currently working with exhibitors individually to assess what they wish to achieve of exhibiting either in Fieldays Online and/or a future event and will then work through the process of a refund if it is required.”

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7 COMMENTS

  1. There will be plenty of lawyers sitting around at present looking for work.

    We really need to get it together for class actions in NZ.
    Get some fellow exhibitors along side.
    They have broken contract law as plain as day.

    They state they will not put the event on ..or may delay.
    there is no such thing in a contract as ..’it may happen’.. at our discretion of under acts of god or whatever BS line they run.

    If the event is held any time after mid August the customer numbers will be less so the exhibitor receives less value anyway.
    They have not had the guts to outright cancel so are being duplicitous at best.

    Their smart arse excuse leaves them vulnerable
    They say they will take 100% of your money to pay on to other people..like caterers and stand fitters.
    It is not your job to subsidise stand fitters and caterers in tough times.
    If you Mr Ed are director of a company it is your requirement to perform your duties with probity and in the best interests of the shareholder(s) even if one and the same..not subsidise some unknown caterer with whom you have no direct commercial relationship.

    I would think this is an open and shut case.
    If they has said they will refund 80% and kept 20% to cover costs that is understandable.
    They share the burden.

    Also you have the precedent that another operator in the same sphere has given 100% refund.

    I would also look at reporting them
    They are collecting wage subsidy for an event that will not happen.
    that is outright fraud.
    Report them
    Burn them.
    It is not personal its just business.
    Put a heifers head in the CEO’s bed 🙂

    Copy details to you local MP, + Damien O’Connor AG Min, and CC to Seymour’s office.
    Maybe Nash as well as Min of small business but he is a typical Liebour minister.
    You get it.

    I would say write to Soimon but you would laugh at me.

    In effect these rat bags are saying- it is tough times out there..but we are not wearing any on it and even fraudulently claim work subsidies despite not working .
    The NZNFS would make great public servants and Gween List MPs.

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    • To make it worse, in a recent conversation with the CEO, he was singing the praises of James Shaw. FFS. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if National and the greens form the next government.
      How woke is that?

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  2. I’ve been to the national Fieldays and what they are is basically a large trade fair which has grown bigger and bigger – not necessarily in a good way. Fieldays is a business/industry promotional outlet.
    It’s a couple of days holiday off the vehicle sales floor for a lot of salespeople and a nice trip away for the farming people who can afford to attend.
    If no Fieldays this year, will anyone really miss them?
    There are plenty of other outlets for promoting the sales of new vehicles, machinery, technology, and instruction from government ministries re new regulations.
    Give the people their money back and hope they can come back next year- if still relevant.

    3

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