Tampa Bay, Florida - The Better Business Bureau issued a national warning regarding "Fun Runs" after another national company went out of business. Earlier this month, 10 Investigates showed how the for-profit corporation Spartan Race provided little money to Tampa-area military charities after making promises ahead of its February race.
10 Investigates provided a number of resources in the article about ways to background a company or charity, as well as how to tell if your entrance fee really is going to a "good cause."
Below is the warning from the BBB regarding lesser-known for-profit racing companies.
Better Business Bureau has been hearing lots of complaints about various fun runs that have been cancelled with short notice, often with no refunds. Last week, BBB of Greater Cleveland reported on a 5K Foam Fest that was cancelled with just four days' notice. An email to paid participants said "Unfortunately, we're not able to provide you with a refund." A similar event scheduled for southern California was also cancelled with the same "no refund" email. The race website says they have ceased operations as of July 17. Another race company has offered Foam Fest participants a discount code for future theme races.
The two 5K Foam Fest events were to be put on by Round House Racing Team, which is based in Utah. Since the cancellation was announced, BBB Utah has received 90 complaints from participants looking for refunds of the $45-75 registration fees they were charged. The BBB is processing those complaints now, and an Alert was added to the company's BBB Business Review.
This cancellation news came just a month after Runners' World reported that the Electric Foam 5K had shut down after numerous race cancellations and an F rating with BBB for its parent company, Color Mania 5K. A number of BBBs and at least one national media outlet had been investigating the cancelled Electric Foam 5Ks when the company announced it was closing down all the events. Some participants received refunds through Groupon. The company's website said it was filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
If you are thinking about participating in a themed fun run, here are some BBB tips:
Do your research. Check out the company's BBB Business Review and search online for additional information before signing up.
Understand the terms and conditions. In some cases, promoters say on their websites that they don't offer refunds, but many consumers don't read the fine print before hitting "I agree" to long online documents.
Check the local venue. Contact the park or other venue to confirm that the event is scheduled.
Pay with a credit card.Charges made on a credit card can be disputed after a purchase, whereas debit, cash or wire transfer transactions cannot.
Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online registration process, you should receive a confirmation receipt. Print out and keep a copy of the confirmation and any supporting documentation for future reference.
Check out the charity. Most fun runs are for-profit, but if the promoters claim a portion of the proceeds will go to charity, check it out on give.org to make sure your donation is going to a trustworthy charity. Be wary of sound-alike names similar to more famous charities.