Asked by Anonymous
DashCon is a first-year fandom convention for Tumblr users. It is happening this weekend and turning into possibly the largest convention kerfuffle anyone has ever seen.
- Due to the DashCon staff done diddly goofin’ by not putting a payment schedule in their hotel reservation contract, they were asked to pay $20,000 by 10 PM last night or the convention would be kicked out of the hotel. They asked attendees and Tumblr users to donate $17,000 via PayPal and cash to keep the con going - and they supposedly raised all of the money. Con attendees then piled into the ballroom to do Mockingjay salutes and wail Freddie Mercury songs to celebrate them falling for what is suspected to be a scam (as people have contacted the hotel to ask about this “$17,000 fee” and the hotel reportedly has no idea what they’re talking about).
- You can attend wonderfully informative panels like this at DashCon:
- DashCon claimed there would be 3,000-7,000 attendees. There are 1,000 at most and all of them are white kids in flower crowns who are rioting for the anti-sexualization of women in media while simultaneously running panels about “homoerotic subtext in fandoms and finding the gay ships for YOUR fandoms!!!”
- The con didn’t have the money to cover WTNV’s transportation and performance fees. When WTNV asked them to pay the remainder of their performance fee prior to the panel beginning, DashCon was unable to do so, and WTNV walked out as they are positively free to do because what the fuck you don’t invite keystone guests if you aren’t able to pay their fees upfront (and showing them your PayPal balance on a smartphone absolutely does not count).
- It’s being speculated that Steam Powered Giraffe was not even booked properly in the first place.
- A full weekend badge was $65 dollars for a first-year fandom con jesus christ that’s almost the price of most full-fledged comic cons.
The list continues but so far it’s only the con’s second day and it is quite literally the most dramatic, hysterically cringe-worthy convention debacle I have ever seen unfold.
Adding some updates as of 7/12 at 7:35 PM EST:
- The game room consists of some tables, one TV, and one gaming console. No, really, that’s it.
- DashCon proves they have possibly the worst PR team ever when addressing the WTNV cancellation. Instead of clearly explaining the situation, they say they “don’t want to get into it,” and then offer compensation for those who bought advanced seating tickets for the Night Vale show. What’s the compensation? An extra hour playing in the ball pit (which is really just a slowly-deflating children’s pool with some balls in it). Oh, and if there’s room, you may get one of the first-come-first-serve spots at the Time Crash concert happening tonight. Huzzah!
- Most panels are completely disorganized. The “Name That Anime” panel was even handing out hotel mints as prizes for correctly answering questions like “what’s the anime where they fight with clothes!!!”
- This still needs verification, but supposedly there are minors being let into the 18+ panels (like “BDSM 101”), which DashCon could easily get sued for allowing. Not that they have the money for it.
- It’s been pointed out that as a Marriott hotel, the Renaissance would have required them to submit their full reservation payment 5 days in advance of the event. Therefore it’s very, very likely that the “$17,000 fundraising” was a huge scam. Because DashCon would’ve had to pay that money 5 days before this weekend or the event wouldn’t even be happening in the first place.
- Furthermore, someone attempted to debunk the letter that DashCon posted to prove that the hotel asked for money. Not all their points are valid (i.e. “RE:” is commonly used for “Regarding”, not just in response to previous communication, and idk but this dude doesn’t strike me as an expert on internal Marriott stationary), but frankly the letter looks sketchy if only because
17000%99% of it is whited out. Is it real? Is it fake? We just don’t know.
- There has been no confirmation that the money donated in cash and via PayPal last night ever made it to the hotel (if that was indeed where it was intended to go).
- People are demanding full or at least partial refunds. Needs verification, but purportedly DashCon has a list at the con where you can sign your name and the amount you donated to be refunded later. Which sounds like a totally effective and not at all easily-abused system.
- Attendees are either in denial saying this is the best con ever or they’re crying and having panic attacks. Welcome to Tumblr.
And as a bonus: DashCon originally ran an IndieGoGo campaign last year to raise $5,000 to start their convention. They raised $4,000. The campaign ended in April 2013 and rewards have still not been sent out (which consisted of tea bags, a couple business cards with your Tumblr URL on them, and if you donated $500+, some knick-knacks from Etsy).
The full story for those wondering what the hell is happening.
I’ve been reading up on this fiasco and… well, I have a lot of very complex reactions, most of which are a mix of amusement and embarrassment with a side order of “I fucking called this the first time I ever heard of it.”
But right now I’m going to talk about the $17,000 hotel payment scam.
MY CREDS: When I was 10 or 11 years old, my parents formed their own company. For the past 20 years, they have been running events ranging in size from webinars with a few dozen attendees to FOSE (Federal Office Systems Expo — a convention focused on new technologies and the government) at the National Convention Center in Washington, DC — which, when we ran it, had over 10,000 attendees. After FOSE was handed off to another organizer, we took over running IRMCO (Interagency Resource Management Conference), which is a lot smaller (under 1,000 attendees) but VERY specialized and aimed at high-level management and government persons. Of course, since the business is run from our home, over the years I have worked for the company doing a variety of different tasks — everything from on-site press/vendor/keynote management to registration to finances. All of this is verifiable. I am not hiding behind anonymity. My parents’ company, Hosky Inc., is very highly respected and has 20 years of working with the US government and pretty much every major computer technologies company you can think of. We also did a thing with a bunch of syndicated cartoonists for FOSE one year and have an office full of original art from them with handwritten dedications to us. Mort Walker, who writes and draws Beetle Baily, even created a character specifically for that event, all to help raise money for the Fischer House, an organization that provides housing and other services for the families of wounded soldiers while they are hospitalized.
Bottom line: I know events planning. I have worked with hotels. I have seen every aspect of convention planning conceivable.
Some of the flaws in this letter have been pointed out already [http://youngliterati.tumblr.com/post/91561291997/the-explanation]. Here are some additional problems:
1. When organizing an event with a hotel, the contract will outline the payment plan in a lot of detail. The organizers of an event will usually either have to pay in advance, or the hotel will allow for credit to be paid off in increments or by an agreed-upon time in the future. If an event is granted credit by the hotel, they will have had to provide bank statements and records of previous work showing that they can be relied upon to pay. An organization hosting its first event would almost NEVER be given credit by the hotel — their contract would have required a payment of an agreed-upon sum in advance. On VERY rare occasions, it is POSSIBLE that the contract may have specified that payment would be given on the day of the convention. This is not likely because the hotel’s payment comes from collected funds from registered attendees and sponsors (if there are sponsors). It is POSSIBLE that a hotel’s management might agree to accept payment on the day of a convention if the organizers could demonstrate a reasonable expectation of having enough attendees show up and buy tickets at the door that would cover additional costs.
This is VERY, VERY UNLIKELY, however, since Dashcon was organized by people with no record whatsoever of previous work. The hotel would most likely have required payment in advance for projected costs, and then billed later for additional expenses.
This is what Dashcon’s tumblr says happened:
»>We worked out a plan with the hotel to give them money slowly for the entire course of the weekend, which was more than 100% feasible for us. However, 12 hours later one of our admins was unexpectedly pulled into a meeting with higher-level hotel staff, at which point they were informed that convention management had to procure $20,000 by the end of the night. It was an extremely sudden change, especially since we had sent them a number of payments before and a considerable sum the night before. «<
No, it didn’t. I can state with 100% certainty that this cannot have EVER EVER EVER happened.
There HAD to be a contract. Payment HAD to be outlined in it. If the organizers signed a contract specifying gradual payment over the course of the weekend, that is a legally binding agreement and the hotel would not and COULD not change it out of the blue. If the hotel demanded payment of $20,000 by that night, the contract HAD to have stated that the organizers agreed to do that. The hotel CANNOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES just decide to change the terms of the contract without the organizers agreeing to it.
This is not a case of “well maybe it was different because blah blah whatever.” No it wasn’t. I ran this by my parents and siblings and a couple of their employees just to make super extra totally sure. This cannot have happened the way the Dashcon people are claiming it did. It CANNOT.
2. I actually just want to use this space to reiterate how little sense it makes to have whited-out ANY PART OF THIS LETTER. The only reasons any part of a letter like this would be kept from people are that it is fake, or it shows that the organizers did something wrong. Why would you censor the name of the hotel employee responsible for this correspondence? That person is either breaking contract, in which case OF COURSE you would leave their name visible so you could call them out, or they are bringing up legitimate issues to the organizers and the organizers don’t want their name known so people can’t follow up on the issue themselves.
3. Why is this document printed?
4. Why is this document printed on hotel stationary?
5. And shows no signs of ever having been folded?
6. Soooo… the Dashcon folks are trying to claim that the hotel HELD A MEETING to demand payment, and then also put that demand in writing, in an impersonal letter, which they printed on hotel stationary, and then must have had someone deliver in person? I… just…. ??!? NO THEY FUCKING DIDN’T THAT IS NOT HOW THIS WORKS. AT ALL.
7. I really want to go on about how much of a clusterfuck this entire thing is, but I am legitimately so overwhelmed by the amount of WRONG that EVERYTHING about this is, I can’t even decide where to go from here. So instead, I am just going to say that I invite people to submit questions to my askbox if there’s anything else about this con you want me to debunk the bullshit as someone who has done this many, many, many times before.
A writer for the new york times interviewed a series of people who had survived jumping off the golden gate bridge. Every person she interviewed admitted that about two thirds of the way down, they realized that every seemingly meaningless problem that caused them to jump was fixable.
Every single one.
THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT