Scores of thrill seekers have been left in the lurch and struggling to obtain refunds after the cancellation of a number of popular scare experiences.
The ZombieXperience airsoft game, which featured real actors playing the undead, was launched by Gloucestershire entrepreneur Dan Hatton at the former Stanley Tools site on Rutland Road earlier this year.
Popularity for the events was so large a number of websites crashed under the strain of people wanting to find out about it and book.
However, a number of the Sheffield events began to be cancelled and affected customers began complaining about not receiving refunds.
Over recent weeks similar events operated by the company in various locations including Coventry, Rutland and Northampton have been similarly affected.
In a further twist to the story, business owner Dan Hatton was jailed for 12 months on Friday for his involvement in a stolen bicycle racket, casting doubt over the future of the zombie events.
Hatton was arrested when his home was searched in relation to another matter and the distinctive saddle of the searching police officers’ own stolen bike was found in an outbuilding.
A wider racket was uncovered by the investigation, where bicycles were stolen and Hatton changed parts to conceal their identities before putting them up for sale on ebay.
Often the ebay transactions weren’t honoured, also scamming the buyers of the goods.
On Tuesday an update to the ZombieXperience facebook page stated: “Urgent: ZombieXperience will cease to trade with immediate effect! Any future events are cancelled. Do not book for future events. All refunds will be actioned as soon as possible.”
However, later it was admitted that refunds could not currently be given as a further update added: “The owner of the business Danny is in prison. He is the only one who knows how to control the payments/refunds, etc, therefore sending messages regarding these issues cannot be dealt with right now.”
It would appear the ZombieXperience website is still taking bookings for events, despite the cancellations with another Facebook update admitting: “There is only one admin for everything and that is Danny Hatton. I gained access to this page on Saturday and have been trying to find out what needed doing to try and keep things going. Being unable to access the bookings and refunds info hasn't helped and the website is still up so people have continued to book.”
It is unclear who is updating the Facebook page.
A number of Sheffielders are still awaiting refunds for events, with one commenting on Facebook to say they have been attempting to get monies back for an event cancelled as far back as May.
The ZombieXperience page simply advised: “If you booked an event in Sheffield then I am sorry, that was closed down due to health and safety, you will have to request a refund.”
Anyone affected is advised to contact their bank for advice as soon as possible. Additionally, we suggest affected customers contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.