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Better Business Bureau warns consumers about upcoming Van Gogh event in Seattle

UPDATED: Fri., March 26, 2021

A young boy is silhouetted while viewing a preview of “Imagine Van Gogh,” an immersive experience, in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 18. The 25,000-square-foot exhibition featuring projections of more than 200 of Van Gogh’s paintings runs through June 11 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Art-lovers in Seattle are being warned about a similar exhibit heading to the city dubbed “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience,” that differs from this pictured exhibit and the original Van Gogh art immersion which debuted in Italy in 2017.  (Darryl Dyck)
A young boy is silhouetted while viewing a preview of “Imagine Van Gogh,” an immersive experience, in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 18. The 25,000-square-foot exhibition featuring projections of more than 200 of Van Gogh’s paintings runs through June 11 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Art-lovers in Seattle are being warned about a similar exhibit heading to the city dubbed “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience,” that differs from this pictured exhibit and the original Van Gogh art immersion which debuted in Italy in 2017. (Darryl Dyck)
By Yasmeen Wafai Seattle Times

The Better Business Bureau issued a warning on March 10 about an exhibit coming to Seattle this September called “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” due to confusion over the event, and ticket issues.

The exhibit, which premiered in Italy in 2017, is advertised as a 360-degree, large-scale digital art installation offering visitors an immersive experience highlighting the work of 19th century Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Tickets are on sale, but there is no location listed for the Seattle event, which is expected to run through January.

Mario Iacampo, the creative director and founder of Exhibition Hub, the company producing the exhibit, said locations for the Van Gogh events are usually announced a month and a half or so before premiering. Tickets for the exhibition are currently available in 10 cities in the United States, including Las Vegas, New York and Miami.

The exact capacity for the events depends on the venue, but Iacampo said at any point in time there might be 250 to 300 people at the exhibit. He said that even before the pandemic, the company didn’t like to crowd people into venues, so visitors could take their time and have space to look around.

Nearly 200 complaints have been filed on the BBB site against Fever, the ticketing company for the event, with at least two dozen about this specific exhibit. Customers have cited their frustration over mistaking Fever’s version for a similar exhibit from a different company, called “Immersive Van Gogh” and wanting a refund, but not being able to get one due to company policy. The BBB also mentioned in its warning about this show that there are additional Van Gogh-themed events touring in the United States, including “Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” and “Van Gogh Alive.”

A spokesperson for the event referred questions to Iacampo, who said Fever has since cleared up the issues with the BBB and if a customer wants a refund it will be honored. However, the FAQ section of the event’s website still indicates tickets are nonrefundable, with a note that reads, “In special circumstances, we may be able to help reschedule your ticket to another date and session that has not already sold out.” The BBB tip mentioned that as of March 10, Fever is “in the process of responding to previously unanswered complaints.”

“There isn’t a ticketing company in the world that doesn’t have [complaints],” Iacampo said.

Fever is also advertising tickets for another event in Seattle this September called Candlelight Concerts, a series of classical music concerts with live musicians performing by flameless candlelight. This event does list specific dates and will be located at The Olympic Rooftop Pavilion and Block 41. Ben Spradling, content manager at the BBB, said no warning has been issued by the BBB about these events.

However, there are several customer complaints about the Candlelight Concerts event in different cities. Each customer complaining had the same problem of requesting a refund and not receiving one.

The BBB encourages ticket buyers to buy only from trusted vendors, read ads carefully and watch for red flags such as lack of contact information. (Fever does not list a phone number on its website.) Additionally, it suggests using payment methods that come with protection like a credit card and to verify tickets at the event location’s customer service office.

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