dashcon logoLocation: Schaumburg, IL
Dates: June 11th – 13th, 2014
Reports by: Michelle Lehr


 

TitleDateWriters
Dashcon 2014: Day 1- Friday07/16/2014Michelle Lehr
Dashcon 2014: Day 2 – Saturday07/16/2014Michelle Lehr
Dashcon 2014: Day 3 – Sunday07/16/2014Michelle Lehr
Dashcon 2014: Interview with Organizers07/21/2014Dreux Bialock

 

  • Casey Cohen

    This reads as an example of everything you shouldn’t say post-convention if you want to maintain any semblence of professionalism.

    Terrible PR, terrible interview, a fantastic example of how not to react to legitimate criticisms.

  • Casey Cohen

    Dashcon admin changed the rules halfway through to ensure that attendees wouldn’t be able to seek reimbursement for the failed Welcome To Night Vale panel. This wasn’t something that was in place from the beginning – it was a deliberate choice that they made halfway through in order to ensure that it was attendees (and not themselves) that were put at a financial disadvantage as a result of their own sheer incompetence.

    You seem to have made a deliberate choice to ignore genuine criticisms of this decision – “moving past WTNV, lets get to some more fun questions” – and it suggests that either you failed to do your research before this interview, or you have some sort of vested interest in painting these two people in a particular light. Either way, this is not informative in the slightest. It reads as a stunted attempt at PR, more than an actual interview.

  • Dreux Balin Blalock

    Hi! How are you doing Casey! I am the Interviewer and the Author of the Article. The questions were given to me by the Staff of Anime Secrets, and I do believe that this explains so much. As a Convention Organizer myself for the past 15 years, my article was in the light of trying to show what each and every convention has to deal with. Nothing was Biased. I did what anyone would do and go to the horses mouth for the situation.

    Trust Me, I can tell you right now, having worked with groups that do not use professional management is where you get the problems that WTNV present.

    As my Article showed (If you actually read it), a break down of communication is what caused everything to go wrong. Instead of going on the attack, look towards the situation with a mind that is open, and not closed.

    Thank you for your Criticism though! It is always welcome :D

    • Casey Cohen

      Hi Dreux,

      You seem to be interested in responding to questions so I just have a few more for you that no, weren’t shown in your article.

      1. Why did Dashcon change their rules halfway through the convention in order to ensure that attendees wouldn’t be able to claim a refund on the Welcome To Night Vale panel? They became aware that Welcome To Night Vale weren’t going to be able to perform as promised, so they took deliberate steps to pass the loss onto con-goers rather than administrative staff.

      1.1 While on the issue of Welcome To Night Vale, Joseph Fink stated that Dashcon’s account full of half-truths and leaves out a lot of stuff that happened. Why did Dashcon publish private correspondence without permission? Was that a professional thing to do?

      2. Dashcon ran an IndieGoGo campaign in 2013 that promised donors a range of prizes. None of these were sent out, and some were actually used as prizes at the convention itself (along with hotel mints). Are donors ever going to be sent what they paid for?

      3. Random Acts, the charity associated with Misha Collins, officially released a statement requesting that Dashcon stop associating with them, that “we did not have any formal partnership in place with DashCon” despite Dashcon claiming otherwise, and “Subsequent emails to the individual asking that both the misleading language be removed and that we be given an accounting of any funds collected with a date when they will be transferred have gone unanswered”. What happened to the funds raised? Will Random Acts receive an account of the funds raised?

      4. Why did Dashcon not have egal permission to show Pacific Rim?

      5. Why did panelists have their panel descriptions changed without their consent? A lot of the criticisms directed at the panels (whether fairly or otherwise) were based on offensive descriptions that the panelists never actually agreed to.

      6. Why did Dashcon assure vendors that there would be 3000-7000 people
      attending? Surely they knew how many people bought badges ahead of time.

      7. Why did the artist’s area have no security, despite artists being assured otherwise? Why, when artists requested a refund on the costs of running a table at what turned out to be a disaster of a convention, did they have to wait four hours to speak to an admin (despite being told to wait 30 minutes) and were the given $40 instead of the $300 they paid?

      8. Do either Megan or Cain feel any remorse for requesting that underage attendees throw physical money into a bag being passed around the room? Did it occur to either of them at that point that maybe this was an inappropriate thing to do?

      I look forward to hearing your answers to these questions, as they were not covered in your article above. Thanks!

      • Allan Petersen

        Wouldn’t mind hearing the replies to these questions as they seem pretty matter of fact to be replied, and also pretty vital to the entire situation!

        • Jason Robitaille

          I too would be interested in these answers specifically, as they are key to understanding/explain much of the legitimate issues peoples faced or witnessed.

      • Dreux Balin Blalock

        I am currently working to set up a follow up interview to answer these questions. thanks!

        • Raoul

          You may also ask why they feel that they can put on a second year when they shafted their attendees, who as a note, were there mainly to see Night Vale, paid a good deal extra, and then were denied seeing them, despite having the funds? May also want to ask why they denied refunds to the attendees who paid to see Steam Powered Giraffe, when they told the band that they would indeed refund those individuals.

          If you (as a convention organizer) crunch the numbers, then you can see that they walked away Scott-free with close to 6 figures. No remorse, blaming anyone but themselves, and now deliberately using Night Vale as an excuse to get rid of “non – professional” guests…definitely off to a great start. They made off like bandits, plain and simple. Also, it’s fraud that they informed, in writing none the less, that they had over 2,000 pre – registered attendees, and guaranteed 3-7k attendance to their dealers, artists, and guests.

          Lastly, their “no refunds policy” is against the Terms of Service for PayPal for event ticket sales. Ask them about that.

          • DaraSue

            Oh yeah, since the gentleman above raised the subject (and as long as we’re pretending the author is an actual journalist and not a friend of Megg and Cain’s doing a puff piece) a couple more questions for the follow-up:

            1. Is it true (as another commenter stated, and has been rumored elsewhere) that Megg drew a salary for her position?

            2. If so, how does she rationalize paying so little attention to details that this fiasco was allowed to happen, when running DashCon was literally her one job?

            3. Is she still collecting a salary from DashCon funds for next year’s alleged event?

            4. If so, how does she justify this as remotely ethical when DashCon could instead be using that money to refund people who paid for an event that was not presented due to her mismanagement?

        • Casey Cohen

          Copying some of these from Tumblr, because people continue to ask valid questions that they’re not receiving answers for. Assuming that the formatting for this works out.

          1. For that alleged $2300 Night Vale hotel bill: How many people from Night Vale traveled to Chicago? How many rooms did they occupy? What were the room rates at the hotel where the Night Vale folks stayed? For how many nights were they billed? Any ancillary fees attached by the hotel?

          Night Vale has been on three different tours, and is heading to Europe this fall. So many others have been able to accommodate them easily. How then do their costs here compare to the cost of the rooms made available at the Renaissance Schaumburg? What would the net difference between the rooms be?

          For that matter, what price range is the Renaissance Schaumburg compared to other convention venues? If expensive, why did Dashcon staff think that it was appropriate to book such a venue for a first-time con with no guarantee of ticket sales?

          A journalist would be thinking these questions and pressing Megg for answers to see if the figures added up, rather than just asking incredulously and snidely where they were staying that it cost so much. A journalist would also have pressed Megg further when she sad she didn’t know and they never asked. “Why didn’t you know and why didn’t you ask?”

          2. Regarding your claims that WTNV is ‘unprofessional’ for not having an agent, that’s blatantly false. They have booking agents for both North America AND Europe, and a seperate agent again for media enquiries. They literally have agents on two continents. All this information is readily available, so why didn’t you check this before printing the interview?

          Also I believe they have a literary agent as well (for the upcoming WTNV novel with Harper Perrenial).

          3. Meeting planning and event management firms, if they have world respected brands, don’t come cheap. How much were they already in the hole to Experient before any funkiness with the hotel and WTNV went down? How are Dashcon planning to continue to pay for these in the future, considering their gross financial mismanagement so far? If Dashcon claim that they didn’t use them “to the best of their ability” then how exactly did they use them?

          4. I’ve attached a screenshot of a conversation one of the Dashcon committee heads had with a Dashcon admin – the entire thing can be found on augustinesycamore’s tumblr. I’m not sure whether I’m allowed to link things or not, let me know if I am and I can post links to the entire thing (it’s incredibly illuminating). Do you think that “but that means legal work, which I am not interested in” is indicative of a wider culture of legal incompetence in Dashcon staff, considering that both Megg and Cain failed to read multiple contracts?

          5. The official head of the Dashcon Doctor Who committee is on record as saying that WTNV were “actual trash” “special snowflakes” and “unconscionable”, that there were “no bank payment issues”, that WTNV “decided that being patient or trying to work with the DashCon staff was below them” and that WTNV now “keeps lying about it on their social media accounts” (as above, links can be provided as requested). Can Megg or Cain please explain how it’s acceptable that someone officially associated with Dashcon is conducting themselves in this manner?

          6. Your article says that “refund requests close at 11:59pm EST tonight (Saturday, July 19)” but the publishing date for the article is Monday, July 21. How is this meant to help people who were financially affected by Dashcon’s actions.

          Very much looking forward to seeing these questions answered.

          • Dreux Balin Blalock

            Casey! Thanks for all of the new questions!

            To give you the answer to #6 right here and now (Since it involves me and not DashCon) this is how it went:

            I interviewed Megg and Cain last Saturday afternoon.

            My article was written and submitted by 7 pm CST Saturday.

            I pressed the Editors and site managers to get this published by Saturday Evening as it had Time Dated Material on it.

            Due to other things going on beyond my control (Again, I am just a free lance guy who did this interview as a Favor to Animesecrets) it was not published until Monday afternoon.

            For this, I apologize. I only wish it could have been published in the timely matter in which I wrote the article.

            As for the rest of your questions, I have them down to be asked at the interview that will be occurring late this evening/early tomorrow morning.

            I thank you for all of these, and only hope that the next interview and article will go up quicker this time!

    • Nina Mason

      Hi Dreux,

      I’m just curious–will you be doing a followup with those of us who are STILL owed money? I was a panelist and as per the agreement I signed with Dashcon (a volunteer panelist form), if I got more than 100 people in my panels in a single day, that day’s badge would be reimbursed to me. I had 50-60 in one panel and ~150 in another, yet in spite of FIVE contact attempts via both Tumblr and email, I haven’t even gotten a courtesy email. I have screenshots demonstrating that I should have been paid within 7 days of the end of the convention. It’s now, what . . . . three weeks out? Not a peep from the staff. They’ve abandoned their Tumblrs, the Twitter, and the Dashcon website.

      I’m not the only one, either. My fellow Ask an Avenger panelists have not been compensated and as of the time I write this comment there are 60+ people on Tumblr discussing the post i which I was advised to seek legal counsel by an official guest.

  • Sa

    tl;dr, softball questions, WTNV still isn’t to be blamed for the fuck-up also that hotel is a bit pricey but still mid-range – also wtf is up with not setting a limit up-front if there is one? Throwing Roxanne under the bus like that and still not owning up to their own incompetence and unprofessionalism is a total class act.

    ‘Can you tell me just what you were feeling when you found out about what the hotel was demanding?’

    Are you fucking kidding me? Eli was getting paid to organize this. How about ‘Can you tell me why you had to ~find out~ what the hotel was demanding in the first place’. None of the owners/admins actually having read the contract throroughly and being aware of what’s in there is just completely unacceptable.

    Not to mention them still sitting on the Nightvale money (they $3000 they didn’t pay after all) and not refunding anything at all to people who paid extra just to see that panel. I guess Eli’s making sure her salary for Dashcon 15 is covered in case pre-sales go down? Or the giving people a two day (!) deadline to request donation refunds which is rich coming from a group of people whose most popular excuse for bad communication during and after the con was ‘we were really busy for a few days and didn’t have internet and just came home there’s just been no time’. Figures that they would think their con attendees have no life, that makes me understand why they were so eager to accept the rumors about the venue ~hating them as legit.

    • Casey Cohen

      It’s really interesting (re: Roxanne) that as soon as Dashcon started getting negative publicity, the official Dashcon tumblr reblogged her biography but not the biographies of Megan or Cain (they had a series of biographies called ‘Meet The Admins’ or something).

      It’s like they wanted to make sure from the beginning that criticisms were directed at her, not them. She ended up changing her blog to avoid harassment.

    • kenjiandcompany

      $2300 didn’t sound high to me at all…I mean, off the top of my head I can come up with 6 cast members in WTNV (maybe more, I haven’t listened to that show in awhile) two writers, howevermany musicians and presumably a handful of techies and managers…that’s at the very least a dozen people, which works out to…a little over $200 a room? On a weekend in Chicago? Not a cost that should shock anybody.

      • Lady Viridis

        The cast varies on tour depending on which actors are available, but they are a small production and I don’t believe they have any dedicated sound or tech people; they usually use staff from the booked locations. Even so, the cast I saw at their appearance in Indy featured both writers, 3 actors, their musical guest, plus maybe one or two others? So 5-6 people to start, and maybe more depending on who else could make it to each tour stop. At $200 a room, even 5 people will rack up $1000 a night easily.

  • Sara King

    continue to blame WTNV Megg: ” Of course, that’s also taught me that we’ll never work with anyone who doesn’t have a manager again” <– seriously? You have NO experience organizing and running a con. You and your other admins (no matter how hard you try to shift blame to these unnamed people and claim complete innocence) made this whole thing a disaster and the incompetence is somehow WTNV's fault for not having a manager? Pretty sure that their manager would have told them to walk too. This continues to be a complete joke. I'm hoping that other artists and "celebrities" you try to get for next year is well aware of the idiocy here and steers clear of 2015.

    • Sa

      If WTNV had a manager DashCon would probably face a libel lawsuit at this point. Also let’s not forget that WTNV making a detour to go to a fan-run first year con without any credit and established reputation was *them being nice*.

  • DaraSue

    Protip: when your attendees have fun IN SPITE OF your ineptitude and mismanagement, you don’t actually get to count that as a win.

    Let’s see, who do I believe is responsible for the WTNV fiasco: the creative team who have put on dozens of live performances without issues, or the clueless first-time conrunners who screwed up literally everything at the con? IT IS A MYSTERY.

    You know what else is a mystery? Why the people who had tickets to the aborted WTNV show haven’t contacted the IL attorney general’s office in droves, because I’m pretty sure it’s not legal in IL or any other state to advertise an event, sell tickets specifically for that event, fail to put on that event for any reason (especially incompetence on the part of the organizers) and then refuse to refund ticketholders’ money when the no-refunds rule was implemented after the fact and was not agreed to at the time of purchase.

  • Just an Anon

    There are a few things I would like to know.

    1. Roxanne’s biography was reblogged after things started going downhill and she was the only admin named by name in the apology. Why reblog her biography and only her biography? There were six admins, weren’t there?

    2. One thing I’ve noticed is that the admins have not taken any individual responsibility for what happened. What I mean by this is that they say that Dashcon as a whole has made mistakes, along with a number of individuals, but Megan and Cain themselves have not seemed to have done anything wrong.

    The issue with this is that in blaming other people it’s clear that they neglected to do quite a few things. I think the best example of this is in their explanation of the hotel. Here’s the quote from the apology:

    “We’ve looked into the contract, and it’s come to light that the ‘net 30’ terms that were described by a member of DashCon’s upper management weren’t correct. Whether that misinformation was deliberate or accidental, we can’t say for sure. We can only say that we’ve taken measures to remove the person who handled that situation from our company.”

    Not only do they blame someone else for not explaining the terms correctly, they suggest that it was deliberate. This contract involves the exchange of tens of thousands of dollars. How is this supposed to give us faith in Dashcon 2015 when the admins won’t take responsibility for the things they’ve neglected to do and instead blame it on everyone else?

    3. Before the convention ended you said you would be giving out refunds starting with the largest donations and working down. Why change it and make people email you to get reimbursed for the $17k?

    I’ll add more if I can think of them, but I’m curious to know what the answers to these are?

  • Dragonessa

    The fact that these idiots still have the balls to blame Welcome to Nightvale astounds the hell out of me. That and they also seem to be discreetly trying to take a potshot at Steam Powered Giraffe (the act that canceled way back early on as mentioned in the article, though not directly) because they too do not have a manager. They are a band run out of their own pocket and go to conventions frequently as their business. I heard that the convention however was still selling tickets to Steam Powered Giraffe’s concert despite not being there at all? I’m not entirely sure but that really ticks me off.

    In other news, these two asshats need to owe up to their mistakes and be honest with people. A god damn BALLPIT does not equal a proper refund for anything. The fact that they still refuse to compensate con-goers for their shit-fest of a con really says something. I heard that they were giving out refunds for the PayPal fiasco but I have not seen anything proving that this happened other than a supposed taking down of names of those who donated to get back to later according to posts I read.

    Basically, DashCon 2015 should not happen if these are the two idiots running the show.

  • OctoberSpirit

    Wow. I stand by my article. Dashcon fucked up big time.

  • OctoberSpirit

    Also, can’t help but notice that a lot of the harsher questions never made it to the interview. This was pretty biased in favor of the con organizers.

  • Casey Cohen

    Just in case we ever actually get the promised second interview, please check out this account of Dashcon from someone who flew in from Australia to help out and ended up having a panic attack after being treated abysmally. Megg and Cain should also read it and comment – what’s described here is nothing short of horrific.

    Of particular note is the part where the hotel “said that they were given a list of rooms which were no longer Dashcon’s responsibility to pay” and “they had been provided with a list of rooms that were no longer
    Dashcon’s responsibility to pay, but some rooms were still being paid
    for” (contradicting claims that it was a clerical error, which I don’t think anyone really believes).

    The account, for anyone interested – mjhellscream[.]tumblr[.]com/post/93196609316/our-experience-at-dashcon-2014 – I’m copying the text from this in case it doesn’t post properly.

    Also, when you do the second interview, can Megg and Cain please explain why people have not been able to get in contact with them regarding compensation and payment? The Dashcon tag on Tumblr is full of people trying to get refunds (for tickets, donations and tables) and it appears as though the admins have gone to ground. If, on the off chance, it is still possible for Dashcon attendees to contact either Megg or Cain, can you please clearly state how to do this – currently they’ve made it impossible to do so, with multiple emails from multiple people going completely unanswered (not even a courtesy ‘we acknowledge your email’ response). Beyond unprofessional.

    I know people on Tumblr are now awaiting your second article with great interest.

  • Casey Cohen

    For whenever we get the second interview, can you also ask why at least one Dashcon admin (Cain Hopkins) thinks that it’s appropriate for them to start up yet another convention while so many people have yet to be refunded, and so many legitimate questions still go unanswered. The text on the new website is the same, the date and venue are the same, the convention centre lists the new name but still has the Dashcon website listed, and the new name (Emoti-Con) was deliberately chosen because it’s difficult to search for words with dashes in the Tumblr tags.

    It shows a complete lack of integrity, and needs explaining. Still awaiting answers to previous questions too.

    For details, check here – princessparadoxical[.]tumblr[.]com/post/95622028457/a-dashcon-by-any-other-name-would-still-probably