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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Was ‘Taste of Decatur’ a scam?

Downtown Decatur

Downtown Decatur

Organizers of this past weekend’s great non-event claim that it was canceled due to the accurate forecast of nonstop rain. But the word never got out, and a number of ticket holders showed up, walked around the drenched burg and didn’t get any food. The inDecatur blog has the story.

Did anyone reading this try to go to Taste of Decatur and have a similar experience?

27 comments Add your comment

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dattick, John Kessler. John Kessler said: Was ‘Taste of Decatur’ a scam? http://bit.ly/dDhMsq [...]

Wendy D

April 26th, 2010
10:04 am

Yes, I did. Waste of my Saturday afternoon. Here’s a link to my own account, plus additional POVs:

http://wiebke.livejournal.com/2520893.html

Steven A.

April 26th, 2010
10:29 am

The suggestion that this event was “canceled due to rain” is a half-assed attempt to explain away what was a boondoggle from the start.

If you were paying attention, you saw that the Taste of Decatur website was promising — right through Friday morning — that almost every food purveyor in Decatur would be participating in a robust event that would feature free samples for a $10 (or $5 if you bought through local deal aggregator LivingSocial) entrance fee. The site was cryptic, however, in explaining how the event would actually work. Eventually, several bloggers and commenters sussed out that this would not be a centralized event, ala Taste of Atlanta, but rather that people would be given bracelets or tickets or stamps or SOMETHING and sent out to darken the doors of various restaurants around town, where, it was reasonable to expect, samples of those restaurants’ foodstuffs would be provided. Repeated attempts to obtain a list of what would actually be on offer from the listed establishments went unanswered.

Then, the night before the event, after hundreds of people had already paid to attend, the organizer(s) pared the list of participating restaurants down to roughly 1/3 of its original participants. Worse, it revealed that all attendees would get for their money was crappy 20% off discounts, drink specials, and free app with two entree purchase “deals.” When people began to cry foul, the organizer (who apparently was using at least two aliases while promoting his event) offered a variety of excuses, including the aforementioned rain, and the charge that LivingSocial had wrested control of the event from him and they were to blame for it falling apart. It seems far more likely that he over promised and couldn’t deliver, or was deliberately trying to capitalize by repackaging (what have since been revealed to be freely-available) coupons as some sort of festival. Moreover, the charity he claimed would be receiving 20% of the proceeds said it has never heard of him or the event.

It should be noted that those who bought through LivingSocial are supposedly going to be receiving refunds.

Tam

April 26th, 2010
11:40 am

If they are saying it was “cancelled” – then yes, a scam. If it was canceled, why was their still will-call for the tickets? Why did we still get a half-assed computer printout of “participating” restaurants? A Taste event should be….tastings. If you’re giving so-called deals and coupons for $10, no thanks. And you cannot call that a tasting.
Major props to the only restaurant – Sammiches N’ Stuff – giving out samples of their wonderful food…and the service was splendid! Please visit and support them.

What a disappointment and waste of time for those who still beared the rain and tried to support this neighborhood. BOOO Decatur. Cheers to Living Social for refunding everyone.

PT

April 26th, 2010
11:41 am

There’s a sucker born every minute.

Katy

April 26th, 2010
12:06 pm

I don’t think the neighborhood should be blamed for a third-party event organizer who failed to live up to it’s promises.

LizDawg

April 26th, 2010
12:08 pm

Still ticked off about it, hubby and I walked around Decatur with no advance notice.

Worst customer service I’ve seen since vendors at tech game when UGA won 30-24!

Chicken lover

April 26th, 2010
12:17 pm

The City of Decatur didn’t have anything to do with the event, and should not be held responsible.

Amanda

April 26th, 2010
1:06 pm

I wrote about it too: http://pandasandcupcakes.com/?p=616
To summarize: my friend and I were drawn to attend because of how basically every Decatur restaurant was listed as a participant. Then suddenly Friday night pretty much NONE of them were listed any longer. Two places were listed as even doing tastings which obviously TASTE of Decatur would imply. We went anyway, and I’m waiting for my information to be sold from that little form that I filled out on the spot. We ended up purchasing food from a couple different restaurants anyway, having our own actual tasting of places around, which was much more enjoyable than anything set up by this “company.” When we were in Leon’s Full Service, the server hadn’t even heard of any so called Saturday specials like the paper listing we were given claimed, which is when I really knew that this was all garbage.
All this so called organizer has provided are excuses and more excuses, and I’m really sick of seeing him blame Living Social who did nothing but get tricked like the rest of us into believing this was a legit event.

Lauren

April 26th, 2010
1:42 pm

LizDawg, your experience must have be an outlier as Decatur restaurants repeatedly measure above and beyond many well known places in the area of customer service.

John Kessler

April 26th, 2010
1:46 pm

Wow…what a crock. Reminds me of Reservations 911….

[...] updates regarding this, so head there for more info. There is also now a post on The AJC’s Food and More blog [...]

Liz

April 26th, 2010
4:47 pm

I agree it was a waste of time. It did not meet my expectations. I dragged my teenage daughter in the rain to this event thinking it would give her more exposure to different types of food. Sammiches n’ Stuff were great. I will definitely go back especially for their grits and chicken salad. They were good at directing you towards the will call and made you feel welcome. We went to some of the other restaurants on the list. Some looked at me like I had two heads when I asked about sampling foods and only had specials that they said they would still honor even though they were not participating. We only going to three other restaurants, Figo, Iberian Pig, and I believe Debbie’s Jamaican restaurant. One the restaurants, the Chocolate Bar closed at 2. This event was suppose to be from 11 am-6pm. Another restaurant, The Cookie Depot stopped before six stating she was out of samples and appeared to appear frustrated with the event. I am so thankful that Living Social is refunding my money. I will go to the real Taste of Atlanta next time and spend the money.

Charlie

April 26th, 2010
4:51 pm

The rain and storms did not thwart patrons’ ability to sample free food and get deep discounts during the Taste of Decatur. Instead, patrons who registered online for ½ off tickets and full price tickets will get a membership card that extends beyond the Taste. Figo, Iberian Pig, Mac McGee’s and other restaurants report their sales were three times what it would have been ordinarily even without the rain. “Once patrons sampled our food, they ordered from the full menu”, says owner of Sammiches N’ Stuff.

The organizers made a brilliant move to pitch the Taste as an indoor event to the various restaurants and retailers in the area. Not only were they able to sample food, but have the full dining experience, if they chose, at a fraction of the cost. One patron who visited Figo was reported to have fed a family of four for just $20.

As patrons arrived they registered online for a membership card and were given a list of participating businesses and their offer to sample or buy food at discount prices. Patrons also were promised their cards would allow them to monitor weekly or monthly specials through those businesses involved in the Taste for a whole year.

Of the 700 who registered online roughly, half the patrons redeemed their tickets at the Taste, others will receive their cards by mail.

Various businesses had different offerings as their involvement in the Taste. Some offered samples, some 20 – 50% off their menu. Not a bad deal for just 5 bucks or for those few paid 10 bucks.

Carl

April 26th, 2010
5:17 pm

(please hold while I laugh hysterically at “Charlie”)

Now. Better.

Unlike many, I never expected an outdoor festival. Everything I’d seen implied it would be an indoor event, encouraging people to walk (or drive) to participating venues. It was this setup that encouraged me to sign up in the first place, as clearly the forecast for Saturday was for heavy rain.

The first red flag appeared when I passed by Café Alsace around noon and noticed that it was closed with no explanatory note on the door. If they were a participant (as they had been previously listed), why would they not be open? I knew I wouldn’t be able to participate until much later in the afternoon and thought perhaps Alsace would be open later. Of course by that time, I knew all about the Distaste of Decatur and proceeded to RockIt to request a refund. The story I received there was completely illogical, as has been, well, pretty much everything surrounding this since.

It’s wonderful that we have establishments like Sammiches N’ Stuff that chose to offer samples. It certainly earned them some good will from disappointed ToD participants who will likely return to patronize them (as I just did). Apparently Iberian Pig and FIGO were sampling as well, whereas other establishments were offering “free” items only with purchase of an entree. I don’t blame the businesses, as they likely received no compensation for their participation, but most people don’t think of a tasting fair as a discount program.

It will certainly be interesting, shall we say, to see how this all continues to unfold. There are certainly some folks waiting with strong anticipation for the advertised Member Card (which either offers discounts through July, or perhaps the rest of the year, depending upon which version of the story you read). I suspect we’ll be underwhelmed. Very.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by First Bite. First Bite said: Was "Taste of Decatur" a scam? http://shar.es/muTbF [...]

Tam

April 26th, 2010
6:31 pm

I recant my “boo Decatur” – you guys are absolutely right, it’s not their fault. That was before I read more and more into this “organizer” aka CHARLIES and all of the versions of their “story”.

“Deep discounts”….”fraction of the cost” are you for real Charlie?? You should really be ashamed for even typing those words – you obviously did not walk around for nothing in the rain. As someone already stated, some of the places were closed, closed early or weren’t even offering food/incentives during the entire event time. Some were even listed on your “pamphlet” as “coming soon”. How are the deals coming soon on the day of the event?? Carl is right, the reason I decided to still go was because it was touted as “indoors”.

You might want to think about apologizing instead of continually trying to make it sound like a success. By the way, which businesses saw 3 times their regular revenue?

And I really can’t wait to see this discount card. You just stated:

“Patrons also were promised their cards would allow them to monitor weekly or monthly specials through those businesses involved in the Taste for a whole year.”

So we’ll have to monitor specials? How and where???

B.S.

Charlie = Liar

April 26th, 2010
6:51 pm

Charlie is obviously the promoter. Figo offered a half serving of bruccietta type appetizer and a coke. If you can then buy enough pasta for 4 people for $20, I’ll eat my words. (Figo’s food was great, don’t get me wrong).

I am sure no one made triple what they usually do on a rainy day, but even if they made 100 times the typical amount, aggravating 100% of your patrons on one day is not good business.

They have wiped the Facebook page clean…go back and post again!

Michael Fedor

April 26th, 2010
7:23 pm

Everyone who went to this had that experience. Should have stayed home…

Becks

April 26th, 2010
10:48 pm

Charlie is obviously the same “Charlie” spewing garbage on Decatur Metro about how awesome this even was. These people are completely sketch for sure.

Scam

April 26th, 2010
11:44 pm

If you check their website where that discount card is Free, you’ll notice that the restaurants and businesses listed (that supposedly offer incentives) are not in Decatur. Furthermore, if you click on them to view the deal they have – there are NO DEALS listed.

Foodgeek

April 27th, 2010
12:58 am

Yep. Scamtastic. I suppose I should add, “allegedly,” because that word will be applicable, as I’m certain that they’ll be named in some sort of suit. The City of Decatur should sue this outfit for even pretending to be a festival of any sort, tied to Decatur in any way. And then there are the 700+ people who bought tickets – just on Living Social – and I doubt they’ll disclose how many people bought full-price tickets through the organizer, although they seem to be claiming that they are offering automatic refunds as well.

This will end up in “News of the Weird,” under “Totally Legitimate Lawsuits Against People Who Know They Are Perpetrating a Scam.” Or something of that nature.

Charlie, if I may call you that, may I ask what was your driving motive in setting up this sham? This bamboozle? This spectacular (alleged) fraud? At $5-10 per person, that’s just enough money to get people really angry at you, and given the environment of this community, enough to guarantee a lawsuit, but on the flipside, it seems to be a very tiny amount, indeed, should you be dragged into civil court, and it’s an inconsequential amount, if this comes to a criminal case.

What the heck were you thinking? This ranks up there with some of the worst-thought-out fraud ideas, ever. Next time, get a fraud consultant.

Finnegan

April 27th, 2010
8:38 am

Canceled? I hope they didn’t actually say it was canceled. They were still selling tickets at Rockit at 4:30pm on Saturday. If they said it was canceled due to rain, that’s some CYA lies, there.

BSP

April 28th, 2010
1:14 pm

I hope everyone knows that this “Taste of Decatur” event by Mr. Stanley (aka The TAG Firm) was not the same or remotely associated with the 14-year running event called the “Garden of Eatin: A Taste of Decatur” which is presented every September by the Decatur Cooperative Ministry (a local non-profit serving the needs of the homeless). I hope this Mr. Stanley (or Ellis or whatever) hasn’t left a bad taste in our community for the real Taste of Decatur event. See http://www.decaturcooperativeministry.org/tasteofdecatur/home.htm

Taste the failure

April 28th, 2010
2:43 pm

It seems like this is making it all around the blogosphere on what a scam this was. All the blame should really be pointed at Stanley and the TAG Firm. It’s unfair to blame the City who was not involved or the restaurants who were fooled into it. Or for that matter may never have known that they were listed.

I don’t know if it was a tongue in cheek comment from Dave at inDecatur but he threw you John right under the bus for writing a blog post and referencing his site.

Jennifer

April 28th, 2010
2:54 pm

If you saw the CBS Atlanta coverage of this event Saturday morning (they recently pulled it from their site) you’d see that they used footage from last years ACTUAL Taste of Decatur because it matches exactly to the images found on Decatur Coop’s site. Was CBS confused or did Mr. Stanley ask them to show footage that would confuse his event with the real one??

Hilly

April 28th, 2010
4:20 pm

Wow, I’m really glad I didn’t go (not to rub it in).

Legally, I think the fraud part might be hard to prove with regard to the fake event itself, but how about the alleged 20% of the proceeds going to charity? Because there were minimum promotional costs, no day of operating costs (snicker), a minimum of close to $700 must be sent to the charity – based on LivingSocial sales only.