Seattle Van Gogh show that brought prior BBB warnings fails to materialize on time

An art show called “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” was supposed to kick off in Seattle this week. But the first shows are suddenly canceled.

It’s an event KIRO 7 first reported on in March after the Better Business Bureau issued a warning about the “immersive experience.” Now some customers are out their money — and a promised show.

“They are disappointed. But unfortunately, there were some red flags that led us to believe this could be the ultimate case,” said Ben Spalding, a spokesperson with the Better Business Bureau Great West – Pacific division.

When tickets went on sale, the company Fever Up announced the event was going to be at a secret location somewhere in Seattle.

Now the shows — at least for the next week or so — have been canceled, according to customers who are sharing their experiences on social media. It’s not clear if the first shows in October will go ahead as scheduled.

The company later said the first day of the shows in Seattle would begin on Oct. 15, but did not specify the venue.

UPDATE: On Thursday morning, the company sent the following statement:

“Due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on global transportation logistics beyond our control, we have encountered delays in shipment arrivals for the Seattle experience. Despite our best efforts to honor the scheduled opening date, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience will now open in Seattle on Friday, October 15th. All ticket holders that are affected by the delay will have the flexibility to either choose a new date or receive a full refund.

“After successfully launching in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C – which collectively saw over 1,700,000 guests total – we are thrilled with the popularity of this experience and look forward to welcoming our Seattle visitors soon.”

Some people are having so much trouble communicating with the company that they are taking their concerns to the state’s attorney general.

“I’m a huge artist. I’m a graphic designer, so I was excited to go,” said Shawna Birkett, who lives in Everett. Her tickets were for Wednesday, Sept. 22.

She said she forgot the event location was supposed to be a “secret” until about two weeks ago.

“When I inquired about the location, they said the event would be centrally located. How big is Seattle? What does that mean?” Birkett said.

Pamela Allyn in West Seattle got the same response when she reached out. Her tickets were also for Sept. 22.

“‘Venue to be picked,’ they said, and they keep you hanging on and hanging on,” Allyn said. “I’ve sent them so many emails,” she said.

Allyn tried to get a refund for four tickets through her credit card. But she said because she purchased the tickets more than 90 days prior to trying to file the claim, her credit card company wouldn’t issue a refund.

Then Allyn said she filed a complaint with the Washington Attorney General’s Office.

“It’s been a nightmare; it really has. And the sad thing is I really wanted to see it with my sister,” she said.

The AG’s office stated Wednesday that 17 customers so far have filed complaints. Ten people have got their money back so far, and the other seven just filed the complaints in the past week. Customers can file a complaint, click here.

Others like Birkett are still waiting for their refunds. She said she’s reached out to the company but hasn’t filed any complaints.

“It’s not going to kill me if I don’t get it back. But at the same point, it’s kind of robbery. They’re stealing tons of money from people,” Birkett said.

The BBB stated it sees an uptick in complaints about Fever and “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.” The business is not accredited by the BBB.

“Unfortunately, we’re hearing from some that are having difficulty right now,” Spalding said. He said the company has become more responsive toward responding to customer’s complaints, as compared to back in March.

KIRO 7 asked Fever when the company’s first Van Gogh event would be able to happen in Seattle, where it would be, why it was delayed, and whether customers who wanted a refund would be able to get it on Wednesday. An “account executive” said she would get back to us “ASAP with more information” but didn’t respond by the time of this article.

This week, some customers did get emails from Fever that read in part, “We’ve encountered delays in shipment arrivals for the Seattle experience due to the impact of COVID-19 on global transportation logistics.” It also asked customers to rebook their tickets.

Fever is currently still selling tickets for the Van Gogh event, and the BBB is warning “buyers beware” for people who are still interested.

“It’s difficult to host an event during the pandemic to begin with. But to host one that is a secret location like what was advertised here and also not really doing a great job of disclosing some of the refund and cancellation policies, it can make for a really suspect situation for consumers,” Spalding said.

“I don’t know how they sleep at night,” Allyn said. “I’ll never buy tickets from them again.”

Another complaint about Fever’s event is that it’s similarly titled to another Van Gogh event that was made famous in part by a scene of the Netflix show “Emily In Paris.” That show is called “Immersive Van Gogh,” with the word “immersive” before the artist’s name.

There is also an “Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Exhibition” show that’s launching in Tacoma this December at the Tacoma Armory.