Drivers out hundreds of dollars after ‘Michigan Mile’ race stalls out

UPDATE:  BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU RESPONDS

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – It was supposed to be a thrill seeker’s dream, but this year, the ‘Michigan Mile’ race ran out of gas before the engines ever had a chance to warm up.

The race was supposed to run as a part of the Battle Creek Field of Flight but was cancelled abruptly.

The sudden end of the event left some people feeling they were cheated out of the money they paid. One driver, Sean Eurich, contacted FOX 17 Problem Solvers.

Eurich said he was looking forward to the second event this year.

“I’ve always been into drag racing, something my dad has always been into and got me into,” said Eurich.  “This Michigan Mile thing was a new thing to me.  I’ve never done it before.”

Last year was the first ever ‘Michigan Mile.”

“You are zero miles per hour, you go as fast as you can for a mile on an air strip and see how fast you can go versus how fast everyone else can go.”

Since Eurich missed the first event, he paid $200 in March to ensure he would be included in the 2014 race, scheduled to be held over the Fourth of July weekend.

“It was in conjunction with the Battle Creek balloon festival,” he said.

But on July 1, Eurich and dozens of other racers who had paid the entry fee got an email that said the event was over before it ever started.

Eurich explained, “Just a few days before the event they said, ‘No.  We are not doing this.'”

Not only was he told the event was cancelled, but Eurich also learned there would be no refund.  The organizer’s cancellation email reads in part,

“It is with great regret and disappointment that I must announce that The Michigan Mile is being postponed due to negotiation and contract difficulties with the representatives of Kellogg Airport and the Battle Creek Airshow.  The decision to cancel our event was not mutual and we fought the best we could to keep the track open for us.”

- Alex Conley, The Michigan Mile

We reached out to Barb Haluszka, the executive director of Field of Flight, for answers, and we learned the drivers weren’t the only ones looking to collect money.

“(Conley) kept promising me that he was going to send me money,” Haluszka said. “Kept promising, never got the money.”

Haluszka said that figure is $4,500 for last year’s event.  Alex Conley, the man behind The Michigan Mile, said he only has an invoice for $3,500.  Conley was told to pay his debt and give the money in advance before putting on the 2014 race.

Five weeks before the event, Haluszka had not gotten a dime and pulled the plug. “I just said, ‘Alex, this is not working. Now there is a trust barrier that has been broken.  You haven’t paid us.’  He is trying to tell me that, ‘I have sponsor money coming in.’  How do you have an event in five weeks and not have any money in your pocket?”

Conley said he never wanted to shut down The Michigan Mile.  He said it was cancelled before he even had a chance to pay the debt.

“We never got to that meeting,” said Conley.  “She cancelled the event before we got a chance to meet here and give her any funds what-so-ever.”

As for the drivers like Eurich, Conley showed us a contract that reads, “all fees and funds are final and non refundable.” All drivers had to electronically sign the form before paying via PayPal.

Conley said the money collected was spent on promoting the race.  If anyone has a complaint about a refund, he said, their complaints should be filed with PayPal.

PayPal ruled in favor of the binding contract in six cases so far, he said.

“We are truly sorry that it came out this way,” Conley said, “but it really is out of our hands.”

As for the debt owed to the balloon festival, Conley admits that he should be held responsible for the $3,500, but he also said his first priority is to make sure the drivers who paid money have a chance to file a complaint with PayPal.

He also said he has no plans of holding another Michigan Mile in the future.

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12 comments

  • Hylton Du Preez

    He wants the drivers to file a claim with PayPal because of that contract. Because of that PayPal will automatically side with him and he’ll be able to keep their money without a worry of getting charged back. I’ve had to deal with many people trying to do that with my online business’ and it’s extremely annoying if they’ve received their products and are doing it to just get it for free. Yes, the contract said there will be no refunds, but they were also promised a spot in the race. They should receive their money back because Conley knew about the problems with the venue wanting funds and continued to sell spots in the race knowing that it’ll most likely end up not happening.

  • Casey Terwilliger

    I love the fact you kept the ‘Michigan Mile’ up still collecting money. I paid June 6th… see your account froze Alex? I’ll get it back but I’m far from done dealing with you. How about this I take what you had and do it right for 2015. I’ll pay upfront and not scsm ppl

  • Sean

    You drivers who paid whom have been defrauded by this guy need to band together and do a class action suit against him. One person coming at him at a time wont habe much impact. But if the majority of registrants came at him at once, it would be an easy win in court considering the obvious fraudulent nature of the situation given the hosting site hadn’t been paid for the 2013 event which caused the cancellation of the 2014 event. Don’t just roll over on this folks, you may not get all your money back and you will be out a little time and effort, but this guy will be taught a very stiff lesson in the process which is what everyones goal should be.

  • Just me

    Contact the IRS.
    I bet he isn’t declaring all this extra income. Then file charges for fraud. it was premeditated well planned fraud.

  • Eugene

    What does PayPal have anything to do with it? He keeps pushing the registrants to deal with paypal…Paypal was just a median to transfer money, that is all, they aren’t the ones that put on the event or promised the event to the registrants, nor were they the ones to cancel the event. The only reason he is pushing the racers to deal with paypal is because he knows that Paypal is the only entity that will side with him due to his bullsh*t no-refund policy. The fact is that the event was cancelled because he had failed to pay his debt from last year, that’s as simple as that, the cancellation was due to his own negligence, and not any other matter that was out of his hands, that is why the policy he made would never stand up in court.

  • Casey Terwilliger

    paypal denied me within my 30 day window. stating he had a contract rain or shine no refunds… fine but cancelling I’m obligated to a refund. I for one will NEVER use paypal… I mean why don’t we all make up an event sign up months a head of time. paypal will side with you allowing you to steal money… paypal needs restructuring how many more Alex “Con-man” Conley will come about and walk free?

    “In its investigation, the Better Business Bureau reports that Conley appears to have raised more than $14,000 for the event. The organization also reports that Conley has not responded to them.”

    http://detroit.jalopnik.com/what-happened-to-the-michigan-mile-1607324244/+pgeorge

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