How to help: Northern California wildfire relief

Customers upset over refund issues after Utah company delays lantern festivals

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah -- A Utah-based company that hosts lantern festivals around the country is in hot water after angry customers claimed the company canceled their events, and didn’t issue refunds.

The company Viive Events, in Pleasant Grove, puts on “The Lights Fest.”

Thousands of people show up and listen to music, light paper lanterns, and release them into the sky at nightfall.

Videos on YouTube show the magic and wonder. One of the videos was filmed at The Lights Fest in Mesquite on February 25.

Shannon McCarty said when she found out The Lights Fest was coming to Dallas, she turned it into a weekend family trip.

“I was like, ‘Oh, well this is perfect,’” she said.

She said she bought three tickets to the event, which she said was supposed to take place on April 15.

But the week of the event, she found out it was pushed back to April 29.

“They posted on that Facebook event page that they had to change it because of permitting reasons,” McCarty explained.

As the new date got closer, she said, “The event was actually canceled.”

McCarty said she found out after reading an article in the local newspaper. Despite the cancellation, she said Viive Events kept selling tickets to the event.

In fact, she said she bought a fourth ticket to The Lights Fest, not knowing at the time that it was no longer happening on April 29.

Brenna Galvez was also looking forward to The Lights Fest, at the one in southern California scheduled for March.

That is, until she had the same issues—a postponement, followed by a location change to a place she said was a couple hours from the original location.

“Them saying they're changing location is weird enough,” she said.

Eventually she found out the event was no longer happening on the specified date, as was the case with the event in Texas.

“A few days later they said it was canceled,” she said.

News stories show delays and problems in other places like Missouri and Colorado.

When McCarty and Galvez contacted Viive Events to ask for refunds, they said they got generic responses and the company didn’t take action.

“On that Monday, which was April 24th, I requested a refund,” McCarty said, recounting the timeline. She said Viive Events said it would take 4-6 weeks to process the refund, a timeline she called “absurd.”

“May 9th, I emailed again asking for a status,” she said. On May 10, she said the company emailed back saying they expedited her refund and that it would take five to seven days to process.

She’s still waiting to see if the money shows back up in her account.

For Galvez, “Every time I've followed up, it was just like, ‘It`s being processed,’” she said.

She has yet to get a concrete response as to when she’ll get her money back.

“I believe it's been 10 weeks,” she said, of the amount of time she’s been waiting for that refund.

A disgruntled customer even began a Change.org petition for the California events, to demand a refund.

More than 600 signatures later, the petition organizer declared it a success and said they were able to secure a refund from The Lights Festival.

One California woman said she finally got her money back on May 10, after weeks of constant emails to Viive Events.

“It's very frustrating,” Valderas said of the process she went through. “I think it's just the company being so disorganized, that they don't respond."

Viive Events has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau, after 15 people filed complaints. The BBB said Viive Events has yet to respond to any of the complaints.

Fox 13 reached out to Viive Events. We received a text message response, saying we need to email our questions to the company’s email.

We sent an email with questions on May 10, and have not gotten a response.