Columbus 2020 NASFiC Updates Cancellation Post

When the Columbus 2020 NASFiC cancelled its in-person event last month, some of the committee’s statements about the refund policy and publication plans triggered considerable criticism. There’s been a clarification posted at the NASFiC website.

Chair Lisa Garrison, Vice Chair Dale Mazzola, and Treasurer Kim Williams are minimizing any expectations about membership refunds:

Like so many conventions affected by Covid-19, NASFIC has been involved in some very challenging negotiations. Because Ohio is trying to open up its economy, we are likely to have some heavy cancellation fees imposed by our facilities. Therefore, we are unlikely to be able to offer any meaningful level of membership refunds.

There won’t be a printed Souvenir Book:

We originally felt that any small residual amount could be spent on a low-cost book celebrating our Guests or passed along to a future event to benefit fans in general. We were wrong. If we gave the impression that we were prioritizing the Souvenir book or pass-along funds over the needs of our members, even those in hardship, we’re sorry.

They apologized for some aspects of the original statement.

We were also wrong to make such an announcement on a likely outcome before the actual negotiations were finalized. We apologize for those misjudgments, as of now negotiations are still ongoing.

Their approach to refunds now is this:

If refunds can be offered, we will. We will also ask anyone who can waive a refund requests do so. We hope to give those most in [need] a more meaningful amount. As soon as we know the amount left over, we will post a refund process.

Although we will absolutely not produce a physical Souvenir / Program Book, we will look into an electronic publication instead.

We understand people will be disappointed by the news that we will probably not be able to make more substantial refunds. We are negotiating in good faith, with our other partners in town, to seek the best possible settlement. I wish I could be more optimistic, but I’m staying realistic and hoping for the best.

[Thanks to Rich Lynch for the story.]

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7 thoughts on “Columbus 2020 NASFiC Updates Cancellation Post

  1. This is interesting. The hotel is being a bunch of jerks. In my experience with this con, they sent a note out asking if people were coming as they did not have enough hotel reservations to cover the block. This was probably in the April timeframe. It reminded me to reserve a room, which I did and I let them know that I had reserved a room. They were very happy. Time passes and then the convention is canceled so now I need to cancel the room. I called the hotel as for some reason I could not cancel the room using the internet even though I am a BonVoy member. The recording essentially said that no one was at the hotel (this is May) so the place was actually closed. I called up the number for Marriot International and got the room canceled. The hotel is being jerks because obviously, people are not wanting to travel. Other conventions in August have been canceled. I cannot see them allowing large group events in August.

  2. I looked through Ohio’s archive of public health orders relating to CV. They never closed hotels; they were considered “essential business”.
    Ohio’s current regulations that limit gatherings of more than 10 people (which is the only order that I can find that would affect the convention) expires July 1. There are no legal reasons that the convention can currently point to that says “we can’t do this” for a meeting in August (nothing like a force majeure reason), so presumably any contract they signed before the pandemic hit would still be in place (and any cancellation fees would apply).

    If the order is extended to include the period of the convention, the convention may have legal reasons not to pay the fees.

  3. @Linda Robinett: some states are behaving debatably about meetings; cf Georgia and Florida salivating at the possibility that North Carolina will not permit the triumphal orgy around the Cheetoh’s renomination to be fully populated. As @bill notes, the hotel is not legally obliged to be more sensible than the state — and Marriott (as already shown by its dealings with Arisia) considers money more important than good behavior, so the issue quite possibly goes all the way up instead of resting with the specific hotel. (IMO, Marriott should never have been allowed to buy Starwood — but the odds of this administration preventing such market consolidation weren’t high.)

  4. I understand that people who paid for memberships using PayPal, and filed for refunds from PayPal, have been granted those refunds.

    I paid by check, so I’m out of luck.

    Also, as is usual with the convention, I never—not once!—received any communications from the convention. All the updates I’ve read have been here on File 770.

    I strongly suspect that the convention would have been a disaster if it had actually been held.

  5. Hotel reservations have not been cancelled. You have to do that yourself by phone.

  6. I called the hotel directly, got a recording saying they were closed. I eventually reached someone at Marriott Reservations in northern Saskatchewan—literally!—who was working from home. They cancelled my reservation, sent me confirming e-mail.

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