Were FS refunds justified?

Natasha Franks critiques the refunders.

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In a move that launched a million memes, the St Andrews Charity Fashion Show committee elected to postpone the event’s 25th anniversary by three days. Bearing in mind that many guests had flown into St Andrews expressly for FS, the committee offered full refunds to anyone unable (or unwilling) to attend the rescheduled show. The announcement assuaged the terrified pocketbooks of dozens of internationals; it also incited a curious case of buyer’s remorse from local St Andreans.

Bearing in mind that proceeds from the event go to the Brain Tumour Charity, exactly how righteous can a refund be? The FS committee was right to offer it, but were guests right to accept?

On one hand, out-of-town guests immediately receive a free pass. The majority of ticket revenue goes toward the show itself: this includes the complimentary champagne. As charitable as FS’s end goal is, it is not unreasonable for an absent guest to hesitate at dropping £70 to £90 on an event he or she will not experience.

Similarly, guests with unbreakable plans (such as that evening’s Students’ Representative Council meeting) were warranted in their refunds. Being physically unable to attend the show is precisely why FS instituted the refund policy. Asking for a refund should come at the discretion of each guest. Regardless of the event’s magnanimous nature, a person’s money is their own to spend as they like.

That said, refunds are not immune to criticism. By the day of the show, FS announced that a waiting list had formed for VIP upgrades. In comparison, the standard table plan revealed just over one hundred empty spaces.

Considering the number of guests who purchased last-minute tickets, the number of refunds requested must far exceed that figure. Surely not every one of these absent party-goers had gone out of town?

The most common argument that guests levied against FS came down to the date: Valentine’s Day. Couples would have plans involving rose petals and boxes of chocolates, as though they could not enjoy such luxuries any other night. FS, by comparison, is an annual experience that cannot be replicated on birthdays, anniversaries, and the like. Furthermore, the show began at 8 pm, leaving couples with more than enough time for a romantic dinner, a fantastic night out, and a torrid love-making session post-afterparty.

Other refunders attributed their Saturday hangovers to their reluctance to “go hard” on a Tuesday. Once again, this excuse falls flat. St Andreans have been going to Saturday night balls and Ma Bells Tuesdays for years; why should that particular Tuesday be any different? The veneer of responsibility claimed by this brand of refunder can instead be attributed to a particularly selfish buyer’s remorse. They spent £70 in January, and now, when given the chance to re-claim it, they snatch the check from the mouth of the charity for which it was intended.

And it was pure selfishness that drove them. Anyone who excitedly pre-drank for FS on Saturday night only to stay at home in bed on Tuesday ought to be ashamed. To demand a refund from FS despite being well and able to attend was to demand a refund from the Brain Tumour Charity.

The show itself was nothing short of spectacular. Should this year’s charitable donation be any less than last year’s, we know who to blame.

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