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FedconUSA cancels itself during event?

By Shawn Scott Smith| June 14, 2008 | 33 Comments

Fedcon cancelled the show earlier this morning. On the forums one of the show runners promises to issue refunds to guests but has yet to respond to complaints about airfare, gas, and hotel rooms. The forums have people reporting in that about 300 people were in attendance and that is why they shut the show down around 11am this morning after Guest John Billingsely completed his Q and A. It seems strange to shut the show down midway because of poor attendance. Likely the venue was already paid for for the full day so the fans should have been allowed to finish the day at least.
Members of the fan community in Europe are on the forums apologizing for the way the show was run and promising that it is a misrepresentation to the way Fedcon is run in Europe. Statement out of Germanys Fedcon headquarters.
“Tim Brazeal and his group were given permission for a one time usage of its name for this event only. We had no reason to deny his request for we found Tim to be an honored friend of ours.”- Marc Lee

Actor Aaron Douglas reportedly apologised to fans who were left in the dark. It is our view that guests should never bear the responsibilty to apologise to the fans but that rests on the convention organizers. Aaron Douglas goes on to report that his airline tickets were never paid for and the convention was using his name to sell tickets, nothing more.

Wooh its pretty heated right now. We hate stories like this. I’d prefer to only write great glowing happy things about conventions but this does indeed sound like a disaster and maybe even a bait n switch scam with the actors and public. We offer Tim Brazeal a chance to tell his side of the story and any convention attendees.

UPDATE: THE COMMENTS section of this post is getting some great info. Comments range from reps from the European and respected Fedcon Germany who offer their take as well as some of the fans who really got screwed this weekend. Just reading some of these posts makes me very sad. It is great to hear that the guests really tried to stick up for the convention goers. Please continue to write in your comments.

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33 Responses to “FedconUSA cancels itself during event?”

  1. Fedcon Germany
    June 15th, 2008 @ 3:03 am

    Our heads are still spinning over here as we recover from what has been the most incredible situation I have ever heard. I personally spent most of today doing damage control and have spoken to many fans, actors and agents about the situation. Thank God all of them knew us (FEDCON Germany) and were in solidarity in trying to help clear our abused name.

    My personal thanks to John Billingsly, a dear friend, who explained to the attendees that “this was NOT Fedcon Germany”. His convincing and entertaining nature helped quell what could have been a mob scene. Thanks John!

    Tim has a hell of a lot of explaining to do and although we smelled trouble way back in January, I wished that he was not allowed to continue with our name. What a huge mistake on our part. Luckily, those that know us know that we could have done a better job had we stayed on board but my good conscious and “spidey sense” told me to bail!

    I hope Tim comes to terms with the mistakes made and issue massive apologies to those he stiffed. Our faith in him was shattered but thank the gods the actors and many fans knew who “WE” were.

    Lesson learned.

  2. Michael Nelson
    June 15th, 2008 @ 3:04 am

    My name is Michael Nelson, and I am part of the Executive Committee for FenCon (with an N), a Dallas-based, non-profit, literary science fiction convention.

    Our organization – the Dallas Future Society, which holds FenCon (www.fencon.org) – is in no way, shape or form associated with FeDConUSA.

    We first heard about that organization last year, and were somewhat taken aback that they had chosen a name so close to ours, seeing as we had been in existence for over four years at that time.

    We are working on a press release which we plan to send to as many SF related information sources as possible to explain that this similarity in names should not reflect on our organization or convention.

    FenCon prides itself on being a successful, non-profit, fan-run convention, which is operated in a professional manner. We always strive to show the highest respect to both our guests and members.

    If you feel the need and have opportunity to spread this information to other SF professionals or fans, we would greatly appreciate the effort. As you know, a convention such as ours relies heavily on word of mouth, and any negative implications can be unintentionally damaging.

    Thank you for your attention.

    Michael Nelson

  3. Kirsten
    June 15th, 2008 @ 3:04 am

    I am one of the people who was here just for FedCon. I travelled 1800 miles by car to get here, only to find out it was cancelled. I am here all by myself (I know, it’s sooo sad) and I will be here until Monday, when I drive to New Orleans (I can take 4 passengers by the way).

    Tomorrow (Sunday) I will stay in Dallas. I would really like to go to the John F Kennedy museum (http://www.jfk.org/). It’s open tomorrow and according to the only person I know here (but isn’t in Dallas right now, I’m, staying at his place) it’s totally worth it. I will go there at 10:00AM tomorrow. The address is 411 Elm at Houston streets, in the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas.

    If anybody else would like to join me, please be in front of the entrance at 10:00AM sharp. I will be there, wearing a red t-shirt that says: ‘Ottawa, Canada’.

    And because I’m a movie junkie, I will go to the cinema as well afterwards. Probably The Happening or The Incredible Hulk, or both. You can reply here, or e-mail me at loc @ ipimuu.org

    Hope to see any of you tomorrow, I feel a little lonely here. wink.gif

    Kirsten
    http://www.couchsurfing.com/locuta
    http://www.locuta.nl

  4. Scott Lewis
    June 15th, 2008 @ 3:31 am

    My wife and daughter and I attended the convention this weekend. We arrived Thursday night. We kept being told that people were having trouble with shooting schedules or flights being delayed. This continued all the way to the last day. We also began to hear from people that knew what was going on with some of the celebrities that most did not get a ticket and did not even know that they were being cancelled. (while their names were still on the confirmed list by the way).

    The celebs that were there did a great job all through the convention “taking over” when on site management didn’t have a clue as to what to do.

    Everything went wrong from tickets that wouldn’t print to “stars missing planes”.

    We were told as late as Friday Night that Richard Hatch would be arriving, but later we were told again that no ticket was ever presented. I would be happy to provide more details.

    John Billingsley and his wife did a great job trying to keep the fans happy and when things went to …. trying to make sure they were taken care of.

    The other celebs were great and stayed even after we were told the show was cancelled signing autographs and allowing pictures.

    Aaron Douglas was insensed that his name and James Callis were still being sold as “confirmed” just prior to the convention when later it came out that no money was available for their tickets. The organizer threw out claim and counter claim that stars were insisting on high priced tickets. That some of them had conflicting shooting schedules and that others planes were delay. Lies and more lies.

    It is either one of the worst cases of ineptitude that I have seen in my 28 year business career or a fraud.

    I’m sure both will be investigated

  5. moronoron
    June 15th, 2008 @ 4:02 am

    Tim (the creep who put on this con) is a great big liar and a thief. All of the above comments are true. Well, except for the FenCon guys getting their panties in a wad over FEDCON. FenCon’s been around 5 years and FEDCON for 16 years. Come on guys, get over it! They’re just ‘appalled’ and whining as a ploy to get their name out more…free press I guess.

    Anyway, back to the subject. Tim lied and stole his way to the gutter. He constantly cancelled guests because of their problems, when in fact it was his problems, mainly money. He used his crystal ball to figure out which guests were binging in the least number of fans and cancelled all the guests that weren’t brining in enough fans. However, he had NO way of knowing which guests were bringing which fans (no individual guest tickets other than photo ops were sold) and you can’t tell much from photo-op sales. Tim never stopped to think that most people would buy tickets at the con and not online.

    Not to mention that when he cancelled the guests he claimed they cancelled on him. Tim never even told guests that they were cancelled. He’d just stop calling them, stop emailing them, and never contact them again. What a JERK!

    And after he cancelled a guest, he kept them on the CONFIRMED list to sell more tickets. EVERYTHING he did is illegal, immoral, and just plain wrong. FEDCON has put a bad taste in every American’s mouth by letting the creep Tim use their name.

    It’s a shame, a real shame.

    Tim claims to take all the blame, but constantly blames things on his surgeries. His webmaster, Tom, even knew guests weren’t coming and he REFUSED to remove them from the site. He’s just as bad as Tim. FEDCON GmbH claims there were good people working there, but none that would talk to fans. We just got the jerks and idiots.

    Marc (from FEDCON GmbH) needs to do more than a couple little posts here and there if he wants Americans to trust him again (or the actors for that matter).

  6. Michael Nelson
    June 15th, 2008 @ 4:17 am

    moronoron:

    FenCon has been receiving emails from people thinking that we were part of FeDConUSA.

    My post has nothing to do with free press for the con. If we were looking for free press, I could have mentioned our guests, our hotel, and our dates.

    We are trying to ensure that people do not confuse us with FeDConUSA and therefore not attend FenCon.

  7. Tim Miller
    June 15th, 2008 @ 4:19 am

    I think FenCon has a right to be concerned since FenCon was getting contacted about what was going on with FedCon USA. several people thought that the two events were related since the names were so close and both cons are in the same town.

    Yes, FedCon in Germany has more of a right to be pissed off since they licenced the name to the group in the USA.

    FenCon is not after free press. We would much rather be silent and that was the plan until FedCon USA shut down on the second morning of the show.

    What FenCon wants to do is distance from a con in the same town with a name that when spoken aloud sounds almost the same that has royally pissed off alot of fans both in Dallas and around the world.

    If this were happening 3 states away it would not be an issue, and FenCon has no issues with FedCon GmbH at all. Infact, we are both trying to protect a brand name we worked hard to establish. I am sorry that things when pearshaped with the FedCon USA folks. I really feel sorry for the fans that came in for the con.

  8. SpockHayes
    June 15th, 2008 @ 4:22 am

    Sounds just like what happened to VulKon. They were supposed to have several Trek stars in Houston this March, from a ‘postponed’ show last September, which was ‘postponed’ from spring 2007. I think that Friday of the show, suddenly the VulKon site posted a CANCELLED page , thank the gods we live in Houston. Really feel the pain of out-of-town fans that spent their $$ for not much.

    There are several Texas-based great sci-fi conventions (FEN Con, ApolloCon, All-Con, ArmadilloCon) that treat the fans much better than this. Thanks to them for coming through for us fans.

  9. Crow
    June 15th, 2008 @ 4:25 am

    I have to disagree with you on the Fencon comment, moronoron — their issue was not that a con called FEDCON exists, but that someone decided to use a very similar name to them IN THE SAME CITY. I’m sure they could care less one way or the other about the European convention–they are simply terrified that people will confuse what is probably one of the biggest con f-ups in a state that has had a fair number of them with their own (really good and well run) convention.

    I live in Houston and a number of my friends went up to this FEDcon thing, and when they were talking about it, some of us thought they were saying Fencon the first few times (and it made the conversation rather confusing).

    Fencon is an amazingly good con for its age (especially in Texas, which many of us transplants from other places have found lacking con-wise until recent years) and I hope they don’t pay for the stupidity of the main FEDCON in letting this guy use their name (especially in a city with a very similarly named con).

  10. moronoron
    June 15th, 2008 @ 4:28 am

    FenCon sounds like FedConUSA??? Wow, people get confused. But I apologize since people did make the mistake.

    BTW, in addition to FenCon, ApolloCon, and All-Con, there’s the Dallas Comic Con and SciFiExpo. These are all great, well-established cons here in TX :)

  11. moronoron
    June 15th, 2008 @ 4:32 am

    I guess it’s just that I say it’s full name, FedConUSA, instead of shortening it like everyone else is doing…FenCon’s even guilty of that. However, since ‘everyone’ else is doing it, they did have a right to as well, but I didn’t know that before-hand – I do now though.

    It is worth noting that FEDCON is NOT the same as FedConUSA. FEDCON let FedConUSA use the name ‘this one time only’, but they claim to have had NO interaction with them. And PLENTY of FEDCON fans (who have been to most of the 16 cons they’ve had) stand up for FEDCON (which is in Germany) and are disgusted by what FedConUSA did.

  12. Fedcon Germany
    June 15th, 2008 @ 4:33 am

    FedCon respects FenCon’s protection of a similar sounding name. I’m sure this issue is cleared up now but I still extend my apologies to FenCon for allowing FedCon to be used here in the states (is anybody following this?).

    Our damage control is in place and thank the gods that the actors know who we are and are still begging to come to FedCon. In fact, why don’t you !@#$% Americans get off your asses and come to FedCon? After you go to Fen Con of course.

    Wait.

    I’m an American too.

    ANYWAY! GO TO THE DAMN CONS!!!

  13. moronoron
    June 15th, 2008 @ 5:00 am

    Give us $1200 plane tickets and we’ll be there :)

  14. Fedcon Germany
    June 15th, 2008 @ 5:30 am

    ROFL!!! Damn!!!

  15. Austinite
    June 15th, 2008 @ 6:17 am

    Wow. I have probably been to 100 cons in my life and used to help run them and have never seen such a fiasco. One dealer told me that the hotel actually ejected the con because the check to the hotel bounced! Hard to say but this organizer is a real liar. I noticed Callis and Douglas were on the site guest list, then off, then on again. He admitted they would not be coming in an email to me. I asked for a refund before the show for this reason and was refused. I asked why Callis and Douglas were still listed as guests (this was early last week, by the way) and got no answer. I think we all know the answer. So I drove 4 hours each way (why waste $100), decided to attend Sat only and got there just in time to find out it had been canceled. I would like to have someone confirm whether the hotel was paid or not. I suspect he is lying about why he actually canceled the con. HAS ANYONE EVER HEARD OF SOMETHING LIKE THIS – EVER? Though I was really pissed about driving 8 hrs round trip for nothing I really felt sorry for the people from out of state. What a mess.

  16. Scott
    June 15th, 2008 @ 6:26 am

    This was my posting about what happened this weekend on FedCON USA’s site:

    I know most people know what happened today if they have read some of the other postings. So I’m not really posting anything new here, but I wanted to put all my thoughts about this weekend into one post. I’m sorry that this will be long winded, but I want to give fans who missed it an accurate picture of what happened.

    As the rest of you I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for some time now. I’ve checked the web site pretty often to read about guest changes and make sure everything was good to go. I didn’t read much on the forums, so I didn’t realize that the real FedCON pulled out of this project earlier this year. If I had, I might have been a little more suspicious. So until this weekend, I assumed that this was an official FedCON project. I bought the weekend general admission pass and planned this as a mini vacation. I got into town Friday afternoon and everything seemed to be going smoothly. There had been a few scheduling changes, but nothing serious. As the day progressed, the rumor that the actors from Battlestar Galactica weren’t going to make it. If I had read the forums, I would have known that Aaron Douglas had posted on here that he had not heard anything from the organizers about getting a flight scheduled.

    The openning ceremonies weren’t what I expected. It started off with a fan singing a medly about stalking stars (bless her heart-she meant well, but this wasn’t my idea of how to kick off the weekend). The master of ceremonies, although very nice, was dragging this along when it came to introducing the guests. John Billingsly came out a couple of times with a bottle of whisky telling him to hurry things along (a pretty humrous moment) and eventually he came out and took the mic away and basically took over. He brought out all the guests and poured them all a shot of whiskey and posted a toast. Thank God for this, because someone really needed to take over and get things moving along. John Billingsley was really great. The pre-party Friday night was okay but even that didn’t go as planned. First off, the DJ didn’t show up so they had some guy playing music from his computer. The music was too loud and made it hard to have conversations with other fans. We were lead to believe that the guests would be attending, but the only one to show up while was there was John Billingsley and his wife who went around shaking our hands and danced on the dance floor (again, God bless John-he really was great). The Master of Ceremonies, Richard Anderson, was there and he made it a point to go around to each table and sit with the fans and talk to them. I do want to make a point to say that Richard was very nice and even though the weekend didn’t go as planned, he had nothing to do with it-he wasn’t even part of of FedCON-he was just hired to be the speaker. I could tell by talking to him that he was very nervious and concerned about making the CON work. I’m sure he knew then that things weren’t going well, but he said he was working hard to keep things going smoothly. I know that a lot of people ended up mad at him the next day when he broke the news that the CON was cancelled, but I enjoyed talking with him during the pre-party. After that, I attended the Rocky Horror Picture Show production and thought it was really great.

    Then came Saturday. There were a lot of good stars scheduled for Saturday. The day didn’t start off great. I went down and the first guest (Anthony Montgomery-Travis Mayweather) wasn’t there. I asked the guys at the door who would check for your ticket badge who the next speaker was and where the other speaker was. They seemed clueless. They had to look at my schedule to give me an answer. “Oh, yeah, that first guy was a no-show, but John Billingsley is the next guest and he is here.” I thought, well, thats great, because John and a lot of other actors were scheduled after him (Connor Trinneer, Garett Wang, and some others). Well John Billingsley and his hillarious wife arrived on time and began their Q&A. They started off with a few stories and started taking questions from fans. About half way through, he was interupted by the masters of ceremonies. He said, can we take one more question? The MC looked like he wanted to say “no” but said, OK. He came on stage and told us that the CON had been cancelled. He didn’t give much of a reason, other than that the ticket sales for Saturday weren’t as expected. John Billingsley took a mic and said “We need to give the people information on how to get refunded.” He wasn’t sure what to say and ended up having a few other of the organizers come onto the stage to try to answer questions. I can’t say enough good things about John-he was really our only advicate and was not rude to the organizers but very firm about us getting our concerns answered. He took a mic and went around the room and wouldn’t let them kick us out of the room until everyone had a chance to ask questions and voice their thoughts. When it was all said and done, it was announced that the autograph room would remain open for Sat/Sun and that the guests could sign autographs at their discresion. This would not have happened if everyone hadn’t voiced their anger and if John hadn’t been there to fight for us. Honestly, John really was great. He voiced his own anger about what a dissaster this turned out to be and how the organizer of this event will never host another CON again. He said he would talk to FedCON Germany to see why they lent their name to this event. He said he would personally make sure everyone gets refunded and told us how we could contact him thru his web site.

    They chased everyone out of the convention room at that time and everyone went to the autograph room. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the autograph room remaining open for a few hours, this whole trip would have really been worse than it was. I hadn’t planned on getting autographs but since this was the only way to be able to hear the guests speak. I got a chance to meet John B. and Garrett W., get their signature, talk to them and take my picture with them. Everyone was only charging 20.00 for signatures (much cheaper than other CONs), and they were surprisingly approachable and let us take pics with them and they were happy to answer questions. Pretty much all the guests who actually made it were down there signing autographs. I shook John’s hand and thanked him for sticking up for us and for being so great. His wife was just as great and were both the best Trek guests I’ve met. I’ve turned into a big John Billingsley fan after this weekend. He wasn’t the reason I came to this CON, but he is what made it worth while even though everything fell apart.

    Even though they initially said that the autograph room would be open Sunday, I have a feeling it won’t.

    So, the big question is what went wrong.

    After reading the forums, many guests (the one’s who didn’t make it) were not contacted by the organizers and their phone calls were not returned. The organizers say the actors pulled out, but that is not the case. They were packed and ready to go but no one would book them a flight or make contact with them at all. These guest were not being contact even before the CON started, which would indicate that the organizers already knew that they were not going to fly them in. However, they did not pull their names off the list of guests from the web site, falsely selling tickets to fans leading them to believe that they would still be attending, knowing they woudn’t. This is just criminal in my opinion. This is nothing short than fraud. They used these actors names to sell tickets, knowing full well that they were not making attempts to fly them in. Not only that, they never pulled their names off of the web site when they knew they wouldn’t be here. People were still buying tickets thinking that these guest would be here. Some fans spent a lot of money to fly in from other countries and all around the U.S. These people will not be refunded for their travel or hotel. They will be lucky to even be refunded for the tickets. It really angers me that the organizers are blaming the guests for pulling out when that was not the case at all. I honestly feel that fans who paid a lot of money to get here should contact an attorney and sue FedCON USA and the organizer for fraud and false advertisement.

    I feel just as bad for the guest stars, most of whom were not paid for being here and did this pro bono. The ones who were supposed to be here but were stiffed probably feel bad that fans might be mad at them for not showing up.

    I know I’m a bit long winded here, but I wanted to paint a picture for those who weren’t here. For those who were, bless your hearts-the one’s I talked to were so nice and made the best of an awful situation. I hope to see you all in the future at a CON who knows what they are doing (I vote for the Vegas CON later this year).

  17. BajorRon
    June 15th, 2008 @ 7:43 am

    As someone who feels very strongly about the convention scene in general and someone who has witnessed first hand the demise of the Dutch convention scene by something like FedCONUSA, I felt obliged to post the following on the FedCONUSA forum.

    My name is Ron, I live in the Netherlands and I have specifically subscribed to this forum to express some of the feelings regarding the things I am reading here, which have made me extremely unhappy.

    BTW, I am just a fan and not involved with FedCon in any way, I do however feel very strongly about things like this, having been the victim of it on several occasions.
    I have monitored the unfolding of FedCoNUSA right from its announcement more than a year ago at the FedCon Germany event. I had actually considered going there, being an avid conventioneer as well as a true and faithful fan of the German FedCon event myself. The reason I gave up on that idea long ago has everything to do with the unfolding of the event and the various ‘mistakes’ along the way that made me rapidly loose confidence in this organizer’s credibility. And now I am very glad I listened to that gut feeling since the show has now been cancelled prematurely, as things were not going ‘the way we planned’!

    I simply feel I have to come out of my lurking state to respond to some of the stuff I am reading here because, quite frankly I am totally and completely p**sed off by it as well as completely appalled. And I am disgusted by the way the reputation of FedCon has been smeared by a bunch of incompetents who put themselves into a pair of shoes many sizes too big for them.

    I simply love the FedCon convention, it is one of the best in the world and, moreover, it still one of the few we have over here that is worthwhile going to. I feel strongly about this convention and, as a result, I feel strongly about things that affect the continuation of FedCon as the great thing that it is. I can honestly assure you, American friends, that this is NOT the FedCon experience you have been waiting for and paid good money for.

    Now, FedConUSA was meant to bring the FedCon experience to the USA. In my mind a worthy effort, and a good idea. If-and I repeat this- if done properly. The last few years have seen a decline in the number of conventions as well as a continuous struggle on the part of convention companies to simply continue bringing us great shows. As a result, many of the smaller companies have simply succumbed, including one of the finest small-scale events we had here in the Netherlands. The last thing this business needs is a visit by Mr. Frak-up, so to speak. Over here in Europe we had quite a few of those, thank the Gods that this years FedCon was a huge success, so maybe things will start turning for the better now.

    But what I am reading here will certainly not help. On the contrary, it reminds me uncomfortably of a disastrous first event a few years ago over here in the Netherlands, that ended with one of the organizers taking the money and running with it, and it was only the intervention and efforts of the convention agent that saved some of the event for the faithful fans. But it has dramatically hurt the business over here, and I fear that the current BS regarding FedCONUSA may be quite as hurtful.

    As I said, I have been monitoring the organization process of FedConUSA and what I saw made me sometimes very sad. I recall the confusion regarding the appearance of Connor Trinneer and the absolute amateuristic way this was dealt with, all the stupid excuses and not to mention the blame game being directed at both Connor’s agent as well as at Connor himself. And now with the absolutely horrible way some wonderful actors have been treated I am actually very, very angry.

    I applaud Aaron Douglas for stepping out and being HONEST to the fans. Being honest to fans is something we apparently cannot expect from the organizers of this mess, who excel in delivering whining excuse notes but who seem pitifully incompetent to deal with the actual business that is involved in running a convention.

    I applaud Aaron for actually apologizing to the fans and trying to make amends, as if it were his responsibility. As far as I am aware this is the first time an actor has actually stepped out and showed us some very dirty laundry. I feel this is unprecedented, and particularly after all the horsesh*t that’s been pouring out of predominantly Tim Brazeal’s mouth on this and other occasions. I cannot believe the sad excuses I have been reading coming from him.

    Tim, I sincerely hope you recover, but please, please, PLEASE, stay out of the fan or convention business from this moment for the rest of your life. Dismantle your Trekunited, whatever that is, as we really, really, REALLY don’t need you. You have done quite enough harm, and you are clearly not up to the task, thank you very much. And the same sentiment goes to the rest of the FedCONUSA team, please get your as*es out of the convention business and by all means stay out. We also don’t need you.

    I can only hope that the damage done by FedCONUSA will not have its repercussions upon the FedCon Germany event, and I do sincerely hope that the mitigation efforts mentioned elsewhere will be successful. I however do hope that those fans that have trusted FedCONUSA with their precious money will somehow get satisfactory compensation, one way or another. Your trust seems to have been misplaced. But there is this little nag in the back of my head that says I’ve seen this all before. And I am still awaiting for the compensation for that…

    My heart goes out to those who are victimized by this….

    Thanks for reading this..

  18. FF
    June 15th, 2008 @ 8:28 am

    Long-winded warning:

    I was at the convention today and overall thankfully the attendees came together and many of us enjoyed each other’s company and talking fandom stuff enough to salvage some friendships and enjoyment out of it all. I am one of the lucky ones who lives in the general area and had an hour of so of travel, and my hearts go out to the people who traveled from Canada, Tokyo, out of state, etc.

    Being “local-ish”, however, I was originally a bit stunned that they were having the con at a somewhat “insular’ hotel–convenient to the city-within-a-city airport but nothing else…no “casual attendees” were likely, and there is very little to do without transportation. It’s not a place you can just “drop by and check out,” you have to pay a toll and drive a few miles into the cloverleaf-crazy airport just to take a peek.

    Also, the guest list changed so much and the “such-and-such-day-only” for some stars was not reflected on the program. You expect some alteration, but a huge turnover like what happened in these last couple weeks was confusing, and from what I heard today, very much primarily NOT the guest’s doing AT ALL, as was bandied about beforehand by, ahem, the “official” sources.

    Hindsight is obviously a great helpmate for these statements, but I was stunned when I saw the *size* of the ballroom that was set up for attendees. Having been to several conventions in this market that were established and had a significant following of people, some of whom planned their vacations around it every year, I still have never seen a room that big set up for a con down here. Maybe it’s just the room that the hotel had that best fit the purpose, but it seemed grossly overly optimistically projected if they thought they’d come anywhere close to filling that room. We love our Sci-Fi here, but…wow it was a big room.

    I had the weekend economy package I’d pre-purchased online even knowing I’d miss Friday, but I had wanted good seats. I showed up today expecting a bit of a line to pick up tickets, and though there weren’t tons of people in line, it was going very slowly and the volunteers seemed a bit confused and out-of-sorts (this was about 9:30, Pre-Canceling). I had my tickets from online, but I purchased a Paul McGillion Photo Op for tomorrow. His schedule had been turned around for actual shooting concerns (apparently he really was filming last night, which was why they’d moved him to Sunday), but he was still supposed to be there as far as the registration vols new as of registration today. I later heard that some people were told that he wasn’t coming before the full cancellation was announced, I guess while John and Bonita’s talk was going on.

    Anyway, there was later some talk between another guest and an assistant that Paul had been constantly in contact with them last night and today about whether he was supposed to come or not, because the plan had still been to come and fly in Sat night for the Feast and then do his part on Sunday as the revised schedule stated, but they (the promoters) had NO TICKET for him to fly down! NOT his fault. And he wasn’t the only one.

    As has been said, our hearts go out to the emcee, poor fellow. Talk about open season on “the messenger.” I had seen on his bio that he is a fan and had been a volunteer at many other cons; I’m sure it just killed him to have to disappoint everyone. I really didn’t understand why we couldn’t just continue the programming for today, but if, as someone else suggested, the payments to the hotel fell through (or maybe they negotiated a discount for the day to pull out right away??) maybe they had no choice but to do so. Damn shame, though.

    As has also been said, ABSOLUTE HEARTFELT THANKS to John Billingsley and his wife, Bonita Friedericy. During their talk, they said that they weren’t sure one of the afternoon’s guests would be making it, but they would be happy to fill in and continue their (incredibly entertaining!!!) Q&A. Then, as Scott reported, above, when the bomb fell (I truly thought it was a joke at first! I mean, SERIOUSLY??!?), he turned from happy-go-lucky entertainer to truly concerned (and serious-as-a-heart-attack) attendee-advocate. He was very polite but was firm in requesting that they stay to give us answers, and when consecutive folks would stumble upon something they couldn’t answer and deferred to a nebulous ‘someone else’, he would say “I think you need to get that person here now, then.” And appear they would. And when the hotel was looking like they wanted us out, etc, he firmly suggested that we would be finishing the questions to the promoter’s representatives first. His organization of the dialogue at the end there avoided some ugliness for the poor volunteers, got people some good starts to answers, and diffused some of the confusion and hard feelings that allowed for us to have a decent time later.

    The auto room was great; everyone who was there had plenty of time to chat with the stars, and all the guests who were there were gracious and fun, there was much horseplay with the rowdy Klingons (O’Reilly and Hertzler), and it was certainly memorable.

    Anyone who was there who can, it would be a nice gesture to donate anything you can to John and Bonita’s chosen charity, http://www.aidsservicecenter.org/ , in thanks of their tremendous job in carrying much of what could have been a *total* loss.

    Also, a couple of the young stars from an online show called IQ-145 were very sweet and very excited about their new project, and one of them, Amber Wallace, traveled to the convention with family and they were all incredibly nice and when she wasn’t around were urging us to go check it out. I would have liked to learn more in the actual convention, but everyone can check it out at http://www.iq-145.com

    Lastly, plug-wise, the Austin Browncoats organized a raffle for the Nathan Fillion (Firefly-Serenity)/ PJ Haarsma (The Softwire author) charity Kids Need to Read that donates books to libraries, etc., that had very little exposure since it was in the dealer’s room that was immediately disbanded. Anyone wanting more info, or to help, can go to http://www.kidsneedtoread.org/ or http://www.austinbrowncoats.com

    I feel so sorry for all of you that traveled here; I have been to a few cons with significant travel bills and I can certainly put myself in your shoes.
    One thing I wonder: though I am very, very happy to have salvaged some fun and friendships out of all this, I would be very interested to know why the promoter didn’t cancel before now. Most airlines have to allow you to refund your tickets if the sole event you had the ticket for was canceled. Now he’s not only in the hole with upset fans, he’s got some people with $2k+ travel expenses that they can do nothing about. That, for most of us, is a once-in-a-year-or-several kind of travel bill for one of these. I can’t help but think there’s some liability involved on the part of the promoter when there was not the usual “last minute cancellation of a guest or two due to circumstances beyond our control” but widespread (apparently) misleading statements about the guests they were actually working to bring to the event. I mean, who has heard of, if this was the case, waiting for mid-convention sales to try to fund the travel of further guests???

    Thanks to the Hyatt hotel, though; they are honoring the convention rate still, and waiving the fee for early departure.

    Sorry again for it being long-winded, but very glad for all the stars that the promoter did shell out some of our money to get here, and for the fandom loves and fun fellow attendees that kept us engaged and laughing even through such a colossal eff-up.

  19. steve davidson
    June 15th, 2008 @ 12:17 pm

    An earlier commentor asked ‘has anyone heard of anything like this before?’

    Yes. It is called a SCAM. Event promoters who do not want to risk their own money do this kind of thing all of the time. They hope that all of their promises will result in attendance sales, they make promise after promise without having anything real in hand and then, if (and when) everything falls apart, they blame everyone else so they can repeat the process over again in the future.

    The signs that this is what was going on here were apparently there: the scheduling of the event on top of another convention, the feelings by FEDCON GMBH, the previous TrekUnited history.

  20. luckycreature
    June 15th, 2008 @ 12:27 pm

    Wow I feel so bad for all of you. I hope that all of you get refunded your money.

  21. ^o^CORVUS^o^
    June 15th, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

    Austinite asked:
    “HAS ANYONE EVER HEARD OF SOMETHING LIKE THIS – EVER?”

    Yes. Look up Flanvention II.

  22. SpockHayes
    June 15th, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

    One reason I decided NOT to go to this con was because most of the stars here were scheduled to be at DragonCon over Labour Day weekend. I’ve been going to DragonCon since the mid 90’s, it’s incredible. They have 20-25 tracks going on at times, and if one star doesn’t make, they always have more.

    It’s in downtown Atlanta, easy flight into the Hartsford airport, take the MARTA/commuter rail to the Peachtree exit/station next to the mall, you are at the Hyatt/Marriott/Hilton. http://www.dragoncon.org

    Here’s a list (as of today) of the TV/Movie stars: (notice the BSG & TREk stars)
    Film & Television:
    Sean Astin Erick Avari Morena Baccarin
    Adam Baldwin Jamie Bamber Linda Blair
    Avery Brooks Jeremy Bulloch James Callis
    Don S. Davis Micky Dolenz Ami Dolenz
    Michael Dorn Aaron Douglas Brad Dourif
    Erica Durance Gigi Edgley Robert Englund
    David Franklin Erin Gray Dean Haglund
    Richard Hatch Jason Hawes Lance Henriksen
    Virginia Hey James Hong Stacy Keach
    Walter Koenig James Kyson Lee Robert Llewellyn
    Jake Lloyd Gareth David Lloyd Cirroc Lofton
    Daniel Logan Sean Maguire James Marsters
    Phil Morris Devon Murray David Nykl
    David Palffy Ray Park Tahmoh Penikett
    Robert Picardo David Prowse James Randi
    Michael Rosenbaum Katee Sackhoff Cliff Simon
    Kevin Sorbo Jewel Staite George Takei
    Adam West Grant Wilson

    PS – No, I don’t work for them or anything, I just got tired of cons promising stars that never showed. Good luck to us all.

  23. Scott Merritt
    June 15th, 2008 @ 3:35 pm

    I was also at the convention this weekend. I was one of the vendors in the Dealer’s Room. I (as with almost all of the other vendors) obtained our space at the convention based upon the reputation of FedCon Germany. We were informed that not only had FedConUSA licensed the name but that there was substancial financial participation and other committment from FedCon Germany. None of us were informed when this financial participation was withdrawn months ago.

    It’s a shame because this could have been a wonderful show. However without proper financial backing and a totally inexperienced promoter this was bound to happen. And I feel very badly for the fans who’d made the effort to show up who had the rug pulled out from under them.

    We have been professional SF/Fantasy vendors for 30 years and this is now the 2nd time that we’ve had a convention canceled in the middle of the event. Unfortunately the other occurrence was also in Texas (the morbidly curious can look up Ultimate Fantasy in Houston).

    Because I can do it (and partially to mitigate my losses for the weekend) we will be producing a limited edition commemorative t-shirt that says “I got FRAKKED at F(crossed out)DedCon USA! anyone interested in obtaining one of these needs to contact me by Thur 6/19/08 as I’ll be printing and mailing them next weekend. My email is pegasushelp@gmail.com.

    There are a lot of good SF/Fantasy/Anime conventions around the country and particularly in Texas. I would like to hope that the first time attendees who were burned by this unscrupulous promoter to please please give conventions another try. They really are a lot of fun. Here is a small list of DFW area shows. DallasComicCon/SciFiExpo (www.scifiexpo.com); FenCon (www.fencon.org); ConDFW (www.condfw.org); All-Con (www.all-con.org); Project A-Kon (www.a-kon.com); Texas Frightmare Weekend (www.texasfrightmareweekend.com); AnimeFest (www.animefest.org); Portus (www.hp2008.org); Texas FearFest (www.txfearfest.com). And for those of you who travelled up from South Texas I recommend Apollo-Con Jun 27-29 (www.apollocon.org) in Houston.

    Scott Merritt
    Pegasus Publishing
    http://www.pegasuspublishing.com

  24. lovelylj
    June 15th, 2008 @ 3:50 pm

    My family and I were there to promote my dad’s book, Escape 2 Earth. It was our first convention and we were glad to meet the fans and wished that the day would have at least gone on longer. It wasn’t as if NO fans had come and NO guests had come.

    The fans and the guests were fantastic.

    The organizers weren’t organized.

    http://escape2earth.com

  25. Fannish Inquisition
    June 15th, 2008 @ 5:00 pm

    I have opened up my forum for people to have a single unbiased gathering place to discuss what happened and where things go from here.

    Please spread the word to everyone who attended and let them know they can go there and talk to others in the same boat.

    Disclaimer: I have no connection to any event, FedCon or otherwise. This website is brand new and isn’t even ready for public release yet but I thought this issue was important enough to make it available to you.

    Click on the link on my name to take you directly there or find your way to the message board by going to http://www.fannishinquisition.com

  26. Fannish Inquisition
    June 15th, 2008 @ 5:07 pm

    I’m also willing to help out with free advertising on the site for those vendors who are out of pocket because of the whole mess

  27. wood_bee
    June 15th, 2008 @ 7:23 pm

    Former con organiser (in the UK) here; I’m appalled. I’ve seen plenty of incompetence and a fair measure of arrogance among con organisers in the past, but never anything (with the possible exception of ‘Bit of Earth’) so blatantly fraudulent. It’s a bloody shame it ever got to the stage where people actually turned up, having to pay out for unrefundable transport fares and accommodation. It also sounds as if the hotel didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory.

    However, thank goodness for John Billingsley; you have to admire a man who steps in and just *copes* like that.

    Just want to express my sympathy for all those who got stung, and respect for those who were able to put aside their own disappointment sufficiently to praise Mr Billingsley. Let’s hope it doesn’t put anyone off from attending better-organised events in future.

  28. Scott Merritt
    June 17th, 2008 @ 9:43 pm

    Well,

    As of this afternoon the Forums over at the FedConUSA site have been shut down. I find it suspicious that this occurred less than an hour after I posted the contact information for the Texas Attorney General’s Office with encouragement for fans who feel that they were ripped off to contact them.

    or those of you who feel that Mr Brazeal et al committed credit card fraud; bait & switch tactics (or any other criminal activity) here is the contact page for the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

    http://www.oag.state.tx.us/agency/contacts.shtml

    By U.S. Mail:

    Office of the Attorney General
    PO Box 12548
    Austin, TX 78711-2548

    Physical Address:

    Office of the Attorney General
    300 W. 15th Street
    Austin, TX 78701

    By telephone:
    Main agency switchboard (512) 463-2100
    Public Information & Assistance (800) 252-8011 or (512) 475-4413 (in Austin)
    Consumer Protection Hotline (800) 621-0508
    Open Records Hotline (512) 478-6736 (478-OPEN)
    Press Office (512) 463-2050

    For those of you in Rio Linda you want the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800 621 0508.

    The Dallas Regional Office of the Attorney General – Consumer Protection Division is located at
    1412 Main St Suite 810
    Dallas TX 75202
    and can be reached at 214 969 7639.

    Scott Merritt
    http://www.pegasuspublishing.com

  29. Billman
    June 18th, 2008 @ 12:23 am

    I was planning to go pn Friday only, but changed my mind for financial reasons. I’m glad I did. I’ve alerted my friends who are con-goers about this mess, and made sure they know the real FedCon is not to blame.

    I’ve been going to conventions since 1976 and have never seen this kind of thing before. They should be ashamed!

  30. Fannish Inquisition
    June 19th, 2008 @ 2:54 am

    FedCon USA have shut down their forums so please feel free to pass the word around that the forums at http://www.fannishinquisition.com are available for people to vent their anger, discuss getting refunds etc

  31. Daniel
    June 19th, 2008 @ 9:18 am

    I read similar article also named FedconUSA cancels itself during event?, and it was completely different. Personally, I agree with you more, because this article makes a little bit more sense for me

  32. Michelle
    June 19th, 2008 @ 10:36 am

    Since I have noticed that someone from Fedcon Germany posts here, I was hoping that maybe you could shed some light on something for me. First let me say that I am not that familiar with Fedcon Germany or USA and I am just curious as to what all happened. FedconUSA’s website claims that the reason for failure is money problems and unless I completely misread it, they are claiming their money problems is because of Fedcon Germany. I got this from the front page of their website. I was wondering if anyone could shed any light on that for me?

  33. Bonney Kate
    October 21st, 2008 @ 3:59 pm

    So, I too was FRAKKED by FedConUSA and Tim Brazeal. And I still haven’t recieved my refund!

    Anybody know how to get a hold of this joker?

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