Prosecco and sparklers

Article by Richard Duggan: Customers of a Prosecco festival in Billericay have branded the event as "pointless" and a "rip-off".

Prosecco Festival Essex, at Barleylands, was initially eagerly anticipated by fans of the Italian delicacy.

But a number of disgruntled festival-goers have been left out of pocket and feeling deceived after attending.

Bethany Sandford, who went to the event over the weekend, is currently seeking a refund, claiming it was not as advertised.

"I thought it was disappointing for the amount of money they are charging," said Bethany, 26. It’s not a festival as advertised - I thought it was overpriced."

Bethany, from Burnham-on-Crouch, attended the festival with her friend, with the pair spending £100 including the initial cost for their tickets.

She has also slammed the entertainment at the event, criticising the lack of a live band for the majority of the time she was there. She added;

"You couldn’t just buy a drink you had to buy tickets – three tickets cost £10. They said there would be stalls of street food but there wasn’t – I thought it was going to be independent stalls. This was just a money making company."

Bethany, who works in administration for an antiques dealer, was not happy at the ticketing system, which meant buying one glass of Processco left customers with only one ticket. She also felt let down at not being able to try all the Prosecco flavours that were initially shown on a promotional video.

In addition, Bethany has claimed that when she contacted the organisers through Facebook to voice her dissatisfaction, her comments were deleted and she was blocked from the page.

“It’s just poor practice. I definitely won’t be going back - if it had been advertised as it was I wouldn’t have gone.”

The festival, which took place on Saturday, November 18, still has two more sessions planned for this coming Friday (November 24) and Saturday (November 25). But scores of negative reviews on Facebook have led to others trying to apply for a refund or sell their tickets.

Child minder Diane Evans, 41, has been put off from attending the forthcoming event based on criticism she has seen online.

Diane, from Brentwood said;

"The reviews on Facebook are terrible – you just don’t seem to get anything for your money. There’s no seating or parking, they’re only offering beer, Prosecco and soft drinks and the entertainment seems to be minimal. It seems like a pointless event – you expect more for your money."

Even if she does not receive a refund, Bethany and her friends Roz and Karen are now planning to go to a local pub instead. She added:

"What are you actually paying your money for? To stand in a tent. One person told me the band is on for about 10 minutes and then it’s a DJ – well you can get a DJ anywhere in Essex. There’s also nowhere to sit even when you eat."

In response to the criticisms, a spokesman for Prosecco Fest Uk said:

"The tickets have been priced to cover the fixed costs associated with staging Prosecco Fest including staffing, security, power and entertainment. Unfortunately, our supplier could not fulfil our order on one of the labels we wished to have, however this was replaced with another line, we had an excellent choice of Prosecco from quality producers available."

Diane Evans won't be attending the festival as planned:

"The strawberry and cream Prosecco was not available however this was replaced with cinnamon Prosecco. We also added an Aperol Spritz activation. During the five hour period there were two hours of live entertainment from our live band and further music from our DJ."

Although organisers have welcomed feedback around the number of seats available, the entertainment and food on offer, they stated the five different street food choices were considered to be sufficient. He added:

"Tickets clearly stipulate that they are for entry and entertainment only. We are revising the price of tokens to honour incorrect prices that were published in the local Essex media. Therefore, there will be an increased number of tokens in each bundle thereby reducing the price of food and drink. A glass of Prosecco will be from two tokens, street food bites will start at one token. Token bundles can be purchased at four for £10, eight for £20, 12 for £30, 16 for £40, 20 for £50 or 24 for £60."

Article by Richard Duggan, Essex Live

More local news