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2,000+ sign petition accusing Vélo Birmingham & Midlands owners of “profiteering” by not offering refunds for cancellation

Anger at lack of refunds for cancelled sportive, and only partial refund for sister event Vélo Essex

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition urging organisers of the cancelled Vélo Birmingham & Midlands closed road sportive to refund their money, with the event’s owners accused of “profiteering.” Entrants to sister event Vélo Essex have also expressed anger at being offered less than half their entry fee as a refund after that event was called off six months before its inaugural edition was due to take place in September. 

> Vélo Birmingham & Midlands sportive cancelled with no refunds

Hosted on, the petition relating to Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, which was due to take place on 21 June but was called off last month, points out that no refunds were offered to disappointed entrants, some of whom would have paid more than £100 to take part in the event.

The petition, posted by James Maric, says: “It looks like they are profiteering from this pandemic and they are running with our hard earned money. They either refund our money or have all that signed up for this year be registered for next year's event, not EVERYONE has the luxury to have £100+ disappear on such thing excluding accommodation.”

It is addressed to the event’s owner, Active Sports & Entertainment Ltd, which according to publicly available information at Companies House has been controlled since 9 August last year by Richard Relton, who is now the sole director of the company.

Relton, who was originally appointed as a director of the business on 1 May 2017, when it traded as CSM Active Ltd, and was controlled by CSM Sport & Entertainment Ltd, is listed as now holding or controlling at least 75 per cent of the shares and voting rights in the company.

Filings at Companies House show that it changed its name from CSM Active Ltd to Active Sports & Entertainment Ltd on 27 November last year.

A number of readers contacted us following the cancellation of Vélo Birmingham & Midlands regarding the lack of refunds, with one common complaint being that some costs of the event would not have been incurred yet, while some pointed out that charges for a priority start time, for example, would not result in a significant cost to the event.

One reader who contacted us last week said: “Just had notice Vélo Birmingham has been cancelled and there are no refunds.”

Describing the situation as “quite ridiculous,” he continued: “They can’t tell all those riders all the costs are already sunk. They can’t say they had no profit in the entry fee.

“More crucially I paid extra for an early start in one of the front start pens. That additional fee must be 100 per cent profit for them.”

The reader, who said he had tried to contact organisers including by email but had received no response, said the situation was “Outrageous, particularly as the Prime Minister has said no event should be uninsurable.”

While entrants to Vélo Essex have been told they will get a 45 per cent refund, there has been widespread anger about the fact that people are not getting all their money back, as well as the fact that one of the reasons given by organisers for the cancellation was that entry sales had been slow.

> Vélo Essex cancelled – but entrants will get less than half their money refunded

One reader said: “The organisers could instead have kept all the money by postponing to 2021 like the Tour of Cambridge.

“Or they could have done the decent thing and refunded an event that only went on sale on 27 February – one month ago; have they really spent 2/3rds of the entry fee already?”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Superted86 | 4 years ago

It seems as though the contract T&Cs would fall foul of the unfair terms in consumer contracts regulations. Essentially, a business can’t have a contract that allows them to cancel with no penalties, while refusing to allow the customer the same opportunity.

Having looked at the T&Cs, customers had no right to a refund if they cancelled, yet the organiser has the right to keep all money paid if they cancel. Just because a clause is in a contract, doesn’t mean it’s enforceable.

In addition, a judge would be pretty unlikely to accept the organiser’s argument that they had inadequate insurance as a good reason to penalise their customers...

Philip Whiteman | 4 years ago

Audax is the way ahead.  No commercial or profit motive, loads of fun, inventive routes and low entry fees. 

Simon E replied to Philip Whiteman | 4 years ago

But no poncy medal, no cheesy photo of you crossing the finish line under a sponsor-heavy gantry with your arms in ther air pretending you're in a race, no goodie bag of stuff you didn't need. It's just not going appeal to the kind of people who think £80 (or even more) is a decent entry fee for a bike ride.

tulip_girl100 replied to Simon E | 4 years ago

I enjoy both! Member/rider of audax and I love a poncy medal from a sportive, same as I love a brevet card. 

Derk Davies replied to Philip Whiteman | 4 years ago

Please, if they don't know about audaxing already don't tell them. If it gets too busy it'll completely spoil it.

Audax = facilities - car parking at start. Perfect.

If these people can't afford to loose their £100 why pay £100 for a bike ride in the first place? I can't afford it so I don't do it (thats nearly a years worth of tyres, brakes and chains). I have in the past done cheaper charity sportives but would never even consider signing up for a profit making bike ride. And riding with hundreds of people fills me with dread.

crazy-legs replied to Derk Davies | 4 years ago

I don;t think you've got anything to worry about there, the people that sign up to these things are (to a large extent) signing up for the experience. Closed roads, that "big event" atmosphere, no real "skills" like navigation or logistics to think about, everything laid on and planned for you.

There's nothing really wrong with that - I've done RideLondon a few times, Etape du Tour and so on and actually they're great fun although you do have to be aware of the morons with zero bike handling skills. But belting it back into London in a 40-strong group at 30mph along the entire width of the Embankment - yeah, that's worth £65!

jaymack replied to Philip Whiteman | 4 years ago

Audax has to be the best value for money 'event' there is with a great community feel about it. Hopefully this sort of behaviour will convince people not to give charlatans like these their hard earned money

Rik Mayals unde... | 4 years ago

The way to stop this is quite simple. Let them organise these events, advertise them. Then nobody should enter. They will soon get the message when it has cost them to organise an event with no participants. We should all stick together.

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