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Almost one year later, no sign of refunds from Lokatara Festival

Gisela Swaragita
Gisela Swaragita

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, November 17, 2020  /  01:22 pm
Almost one year later, no sign of refunds from Lokatara Festival

Almost one year after the ill-fated Lokatara Festival, hundreds of ticket holders still have not received the refunds promised by the promoter. (Shutterstock/Dusan Petkovic)

Almost one year after the ill-fated Lokatara Festival, hundreds of ticket holders still have not received the refunds promised by the promoter. The person deemed most responsible for the failed music event, founder Theo Mulyanto, has remained silent and did not respond to interview requests.

Scheduled to run at Kuningan City Ballroom in South Jakarta on Nov. 23, 2019, the festival was supposed to feature 19 artists. But just one day prior to the event, international acts such as Sales, Gus Dapperton, Great Good Fine OK and Sophie Meiers withdrew from the festival. On D-day, American band The Drums and Malaysian musician Alex TBH also announced their cancelation. As one of the most anticipated acts in the festival, The Drums stated “…circumstances out of our control…” as their reason. 

In an interview with The Jakarta Post in December 2019, Mahsa Islamey, a former head of public relations at Lokatara, said that the international performers had been given regular visas instead of work permits. "It made things too risky to perform," Mahsa said, adding that the visas were handled by the Lokatara founder. To this day, however, there is no confirmation from Theo. 

Despite the canceled acts, the festival still ran and ticket prices sold on site were slashed to Rp 299,000 (US$21.19) from the regular price of Rp 440,000.

The promoter offered refunds for the disappointed ticket holders who had acquired their tickets prior to the event. Those who chose not to attend the festival are entitled to full refunds, while those who attended the concert were to be given partial refunds.

Although the refunds were supposed to be received by ticket holders after 40 to 55 working days, hundreds still have not received their money.

Ticket holder Adam Okta Rohana said that he was awfully upset that his refund was still nowhere to be seen.

“Lokatara organizers, you are all beyond evil. Maybe I should just consider the money as charity for you,” he told the Post. 

He said that he and two friends of his had been riding on their motorcycles from West Java's Bekasi to South Jakarta to attend the festival when they heard about The Drums' cancelation on Instagram.

“We went there only to get the refund information from the ticketing desk,” he said.

Another ticket holder, 25-year-old Aghnia Amalia, who worked at a hospital in East Java's Gresik, said her losses caused by the brouhaha went far beyond the entrance fee.

“I had to shift my working schedule at the hospital so I could get a weekend off,” she said. “Just after I finished my night shift, I traveled from Gresik to [East Java's] Surabaya, got on a plane to Jakarta and booked a hotel room only to discover that my most awaited act, The Drums, had canceled their show. Those things cannot be refunded.”

Another ticket holder, Ryan Ramadhan, was luckier. He said he had been refunded for the four tickets he had bought for himself and his friends. He did say that, prior to the refund, he had sent angry private messages to Lokatara's social media accounts.

“I asked Theo for a fistfight,” the 24-year-old East Jakarta resident told the Post. “A month later, I got my refunds.”

Read also: Association for Indonesian music promoters established

Asked to comment on the issue, the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) said the Lokatara Festival promoter had violated the ticket holders’ consumer rights and could be sued.

Sularsi, who heads YLKI’s complaints and law division, said Lokatara had violated two written contracts with its ticket holders.

“They sold tickets for an event that was not organized accordingly, and they had promised to refund the ticket holders,” she told the Post. “When an information is written and announced, it is a contract. If there is any breach of contract, it can be considered a crime.”

Sularsi said what the organizer had done was wanprestasi (default) of contract, which violated Law No. 8/1999 on consumer protection. “They can also be [charged] with fraud and embezzlement,” she said.

For a class action lawsuit against the promoter, the ticket holders should work together and be organized, Sularsi said. 

In a recent interview with the Post, Jakarta-based concert promoter Noisewhore expressed regret over how the organizer had handled the incident. He added that such circumstances could make international artists blacklist Indonesia for their future events.

“We hope when the condition is once again safe to make concerts, international managements and booking agents can note the already well-built relations with other Indonesian promoters,” Danang Joewono from Noisewhore said.

In 2018, Noisewhore had to make refunds after Chinese pop band Sunset Rollercoaster missed its flight to Jakarta and had to reschedule the concert.

“We use every show as an opportunity to improve ourselves. A learning curve is highly important for a business or collective that wants to create a concert,” he said. “Having a lot of money is not enough to create a successful and profitable show.”

Working visas for international performers, for instance, are imperative for concerts of any scale and should be among the first things to prepare, Argia Adhidhanendra from Noisewhore said, especially given that inviting international artists to stage a show in Indonesia involved a lot of bureaucratic and administrative work.

“There have been occasions where international artists playing a gig in Indonesia with no more than 100 attendees were detained for not having working visas,” Argia said. “A working visa is a must, especially for concerts on a big scale, and obtaining one requires a very long and complicated process. The procedure is the same for small or big-scale shows.” (wng)

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