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Pollen hits out at overcharge claims made in BBC documentary

By | Published on Tuesday 20 June 2023


A spokesperson for the company that operated Pollen has criticised a new BBC documentary about the collapse of the ticketing and events business last year, in particular disputing claims made in relation to an overcharge that occurred in the months prior to the collapse.

The spokesperson has told CMU that the BBC is “mistaken” about some of the specific claims made in the programme, which was broadcast on BBC Three last night.

Among other things, the new documentary – called ‘Crashed: $800m Festival Fail’ – covers an incident in May last year when extra unauthorised charges were made to customers who had set up monthly payment plans for tickets to Pollen-managed events or experiences.

A BBC article accompanying the documentary says that the programme’s makers have “seen a report into the incident written by former Pollen staff, which has never been shared with other employees. It suggests that the code responsible for taking the double or triple payments from customers was written and manually triggered by a Pollen employee”.

That article then cites a rep for Pollen who told the BBC that the code that caused the unauthorised payments to be taken was implemented to fix a bug on the company’s platform. The overcharge caused by the code then happened by mistake “due to an error made by a single employee who took responsibility at the time”.

The BBC article references an internal document from Pollen that confirms an error was made, after which the Pollen rep is quoted as saying: “No person or company benefited from the mistake” and “all affected customers, other than those who chose to accept a $100 voucher, had their refunds initiated within fourteen days”.

However, the BBC then states that it contacted 18,000 former Pollen customers and “of the 259 who responded, only ten said they had been partially or fully refunded for the incident”.

It’s that statement that Pollen has now specifically criticised, arguing that – when contacting those former customers – the BBC confused refunds due as a result of the overcharge with refunds that were due after the company fell into administration in August. The former went ahead without issue, Pollen insists.

The Pollen parent company was called Streetteam Software Limited. A spokesperson for that business and its associated companies tells CMU: “Regarding the overcharge – BBC Three are mistaken. The company accepts there was an overcharge, which was an error, admitted to at the time by the employee responsible”.

“All customers were refunded or got a voucher; at their discretion”, they go on. “The refunds being referred to in the BBC Three documentary were not related to the overcharge, but due to the company entering administration”.

“When a company is unable to pay its debts, it enters administration”, they explain. “However, tens of millions of dollars has been recovered for creditors and impacted customers through the administration process, and more money is still coming in through the sale of company assets”.

“95% of customers whose events were due to go ahead post administration”, the spokesperson adds, “have either been refunded or the event has taken place”.