By Charlene Chua
The New Paper
Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014
She cannot even watch a movie during weekends with $8.66.
This was K-pop fan April Ooi's reaction when she found out that she was entitled to only a partial refund of $8.66 for a $368 ticket that she had bought directly from the organiser of the MBC Korean Music Wave In Singapore 2013 concert.
Her devastation when the Nov 16 concert was cancelled that month turned to anger when she received a letter about the refund last month.
The concert organiser, Fatfish Entertainment, a new player in the K-pop concert industry, was the first to start selling tickets, costing between $168 and $688, last October.
With a line-up boasting top K-pop acts like EXO, 2PM, 2AM, F.T. Island, SHINee, B.A.P, B1A4, Teen Top, Miss A, Sistar, Kara, 4Minute and IU, MBC Korean Music Wave was touted as the biggest K-pop gig to be held here.
The irony is that die-hard fans like Ms Ooi - a 29-year-old human-resource executive who queued to buy early-bird tickets from Fatfish for the best seats - were the worst hit.
Those who bought their tickets later through Sistic received a full refund because the ticketing agent only pays the organiser weeks after the concert is held.
Those who bought through start-up ticketing agent SingTic received about 35 per cent of their money back as it had already paid part of the proceeds from the ticket sales to Fatfish. Fatfish was later liquidated after filing for bankruptcy.
In the letter, Ms Ooi was told she would be paid the "final ordinary dividend of 2.3528 per centum of all admitted ordinary claims".
This means those who bought the most expensive $688 tickets from Fatfish received about $16 back.
Ms Ooi, who has not collected "the pathetic sum", told The New Paper (TNP):
"I feel like I have been scammed. "I'm doubly pissed off because not only did I not get to watch the concert, but I am also getting back only a pittance.
"I don't feel like collecting it because transport there (to the liquidator) will cost me. Seriously, I can't even watch a movie on Saturday with $8.66."
A 15-year-old student, who declined to be named, said she had saved up for three months for her $368 ticket, only to watch it "go down the toilet".
She said: "Fatfish is so irresponsible. Don't they know that the bulk of K-pop fans are students who don't have much money?"
When contacted, Fatfish's liquidator, Stone Forest, said that of the organiser's remaining assets of $1.7 million, only $288,000 was left to be distributed among ticket holders after major creditors - like Gardens by the Bay (concert venue), StarHub (advertiser) and Mitsubishi (sponsor) - had been paid.
Stone Forest's Abuthahir Abdul Gafoor told TNP:
"There was only so much money left to pay the creditors as we couldn't recover sums that had already been paid for, like the Korean artists' pre-booking fees and their air tickets."
When Fatfish pulled out, other concert organisers tried to save the concert by offering to take over, but negotiations fell through.
Said Ms Ooi: "This is a good lesson learnt. Next time, I'll think twice before buying from ticketing agents and organisers that I've never heard of."
This article by The New Paper was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.