Sacred Rose festival goers find thousands charged to credit cards

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The fun stopped for some Sacred Rose festival-goers when they checked their bank accounts. After a weekend filled with music including Americana, psych-rock, jam bands, soul and bluegrass, some festival attendees in suburban Bridgeview have reported thousands of dollars in unexplained credit card charges.

Complaints about the expensive and unsolicited payments began spreading on social media on Monday as people visiting the music festival tried to figure out where the accusations came from. The issue resulted from a payment processor misconfiguration with the venue’s catering service, SeatGeek Stadium, according to a statement from the site. People facing incorrect charges should see the amount credited back to their card within the next three to five days, the site said.

“There was no exposure and/or fraud,” said a statement shared by SeatGeek Stadium on the festival’s Twitter account. “We are very sorry (for) the confusion and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.”

But the bad taste of slippage persisted for some participants. David Littman had planned to go for a third consecutive day on Sunday when bad weather canceled the performances.

“The perfect end to this weekend. It was just one disaster after another,” he told the Tribune.

The problems started with the sound, said the 33-year-old from Logan Square. Music from nearby stages mixed together, making it difficult to focus on a band and hear the lyrics, he said.

On Friday, Littman only had one drink because of the long lines. When he read about other attendees complaining about bogus charges on Reddit on Monday night, he checked his bank account and saw it: $1,289 charged to his credit card.

“It’s a bit odd that they didn’t address it immediately,” Littman said of the accusation on Tuesday morning, before the festival released a statement. “It just remained silent.”

Her aunt’s friends who were present faced additional charges of $4,000. The music itself was great, Littman said, but production issues will likely hold him back in the future.

“I don’t know what they could do to get me back next year,” he says.

Winfield’s Jon Zgoda has said he won’t be returning to the festival anytime soon either. His debit card provider blocked a charge of $1,586.

“It seems to be by far the worst run festival I’ve ever been to,” he said.

The point-of-sale issue that led to the charges did not occur until Friday, Bridgeview Village spokesman Ray Hanania told the Tribune. The “several hundred” incorrect charges were mostly corrected on Monday, he said, adding that the rest would be dealt with soon.

Organizers of the Sacred Rose festival did not respond to emailed questions on Tuesday about the spontaneous accusations and other complaints.

The same organization that runs Sacred Rose, Collectiv Presents, will host the North Coast Music Festival at SeatGeek Stadium this weekend. Site plans for both music festivals show a similar layout, with one of the three stages moving from the outside to the inside of the stadium for the north shore.

A representative for Collectiv Presents did not respond to calls and texts regarding the issues.

Tony Diperte got a new credit card after a charge of $1,309 was blocked in his account.

“I hope it’s just a mistake on the administrative side. The fact that this happened to a lot of people makes me think someone was shy,” the 25-year-old Lincoln Park player said. He had purchased drinks at beer tents sponsored by the festival and believes the charges were related to those transactions, Diperte said.

The layout of the festival led to sounds mixing together, he said. The bathroom lines were long too. He was also disappointed when the band Animal Collective canceled his set before performing because its lead singer had lost his voice.

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But the jam-band aficionado said he would return to another Sacred Rose festival if the lineup was right.

Courtney Richter didn’t know if she would return. The 28-year-old from Milwaukee was wrongly charged $2,079. She saw no communication on the festival’s official pages when she checked on Tuesday morning.

“I participated in many festivals. It’s the only time something like this has happened,” she said.

She appreciated that the festival seemed to respond to complaints about inadequate sound quality and access to restrooms in VIP sections, she said. And while Sunday’s storms led to “pure chaos”, she felt the two weather-related pauses and the ultimate cancellation were understandable safety decisions. Still, festival organizers could better disseminate information to attendees, she said.

“I was just upset that the security guards were yelling at everyone, and that was the only communication we had all day,” Richter said.

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