An Open Letter to Derek Lever from Wittus Witt

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Postby AJRichards » 07/17/12 12:19 PM

This is currently being ciruclated by Wittus Witt


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Open Letter

Dear Mr. Lever, Thank you for organizing the 25th World Championship of Magic, FISM Blackpool 2012. We had a great time, with so much wonderful magic by wonderful magicians from all over the world. The competitons, in particular, were of high caliber and made the whole convention worthwhile.

However, I do not understand why you went to such great lengths to cheapen and diminish FISM.

Your Welcome message in the programme booklet is a disgrace. It is low class, in poor taste, and downright insulting to your guests.

You had the opportunity to present three great gala shows. Instead, you gave us an endless procession of substandard, third-rate acts.

The banquet at FISM is always a memorable event. With a bit of imagination, you could have turned the banquet in that great old building into an unforgettable magical experience, but you managed to turn it into a cheap mass feeding venue.

I cannot express how disappointed I am with this FISM convention for which you are responsible. You have managed to put shame on the art of magic. This makes me very sad.

Wittus Witt Publisher and Editor of Magische Welt Germanys independent Magic Magazine and former Comedy 1st Prize Winner, Vienna 1976

Hamburg, 17th July, 2012
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/17/12 09:52 PM

BAM!
And how true.
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Postby Matthew Field » 07/18/12 04:32 AM

Unfortunately, Wittus is 100% correct. Gala banquet = bangers and mash.

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Postby spetz » 07/18/12 05:52 AM

Surely there must be a way to control that the responsible party that are arranging the FISM have to live up to a certain standards. One thought I have is to withhold some of the FISM fees until it is assured that these standards have been met. In the future, spare us from guys like Mr. Lever.
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Postby Tim Ellis » 07/18/12 08:00 AM

Simple. If you weren't happy, ask for a refund
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Postby mrgoat » 07/18/12 08:28 AM

Tim Ellis wrote:Simple. If you weren't happy, ask for a refund


I'm not sure "it was [censored]" is grounds for a refund, legally.

I've yet to see anyone post saying they thought it was good.

If this was in America, I reckon a class action suit would be being drawn up as we speak...
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Postby Jeff Eline » 07/18/12 08:54 AM

mrgoat wrote:
Tim Ellis wrote:Simple. If you weren't happy, ask for a refund


I'm not sure "it was [censored]" is grounds for a refund, legally.

I've yet to see anyone post saying they thought it was good.


That's true, but I think Tim's right. Based on what's been reported from several different people, all saying basically the same thing, asking for a refund seems reasonable.

And if they don't grant it, at lease they'll know people were not happy. Right now they may believe everything went fine because no one asked for a refund.
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Postby mrgoat » 07/18/12 09:10 AM

What people *could* do is chargeback their credit cards.

People do this ALL DAY LONG with adult site memberships they "accidentally" bought and I know just how easy it is to do. Visa/MC *always* sides with the buyer, not the merchant.

UK legal stuff here: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/ ... bit-cards/
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/18/12 09:13 AM

From a confidential source I have heard that the FISM people were very unhappy with the way things were being planned many months in advance. They knew what was happening and could do nothing to stop it because it was too late.
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Postby spetz » 07/18/12 09:37 AM

If it's a PayPal payment and one is to open a dispute with sales@blackpoolmagic.com the rules are:

"You can open a dispute within 45 days of making your payment. If your dispute is not resolved or escalated to a claim within 20 days it will be closed."

Well one could send them an email and appeal to there good judgment..... ;)
as the 45 days are long gone now.
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Postby mrgoat » 07/18/12 10:17 AM

spetz wrote:If it's a PayPal payment and one is to open a dispute with sales@blackpoolmagic.com the rules are:

"You can open a dispute within 45 days of making your payment. If your dispute is not resolved or escalated to a claim within 20 days it will be closed."

Well one could send them an email and appeal to there good judgment..... ;)
as the 45 days are long gone now.



120 days for a visa chargeback, so if you paid on paypal and loaded it with a credit card you could still be OK. Although I have had chargebacks from visa up to 12 months old, so it is possible to bend the rules.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/18/12 10:32 AM

You are not going to get a refund from either PayPal or Visa.
The convention was held as scheduled and you attended. You have no grounds for a refund.

The only grounds for a refund would be if you showed up in Blackpool and no convention was held (that is, the service you paid for was not provided).
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Postby spetz » 07/18/12 10:55 AM

I know I'm not getting a refund for the hole amount so I asked for a refund for 100. Quite reasonable. I know I'm not going to get it and PayPal have answered:

"Thank you for contacting PayPal regarding the refund you would like to receive. I am very pleased to take this opportunity to assist you today.
I have reviewed your account and I can see that the payment has been completed on October 17th, 2011.
I understand that the conference was not what you expected. However, we are unable to open a dispute in the time frame of 45 days has been passed.
I encourage you to contact the merchant or a Consumer Agency in your country to help you in resolving the issue."

And I do not imagine I'll get a reply from sales@blackpoolmagic.com
If I get a reply I don't think it's going to be for a 100 refund.
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Postby erdnasephile » 07/18/12 11:12 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:From a confidential source I have heard that the FISM people were very unhappy with the way things were being planned many months in advance. They knew what was happening and could do nothing to stop it because it was too late.


I hope that gives the FISM people incentive to prevent Mr. Lever from participating in any leadership/organization capacity with their organization in the future.
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Postby mrgoat » 07/18/12 11:45 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:You are not going to get a refund from either PayPal or Visa.
The convention was held as scheduled and you attended. You have no grounds for a refund.

The only grounds for a refund would be if you showed up in Blackpool and no convention was held (that is, the service you paid for was not provided).


I think you do. People charge back adult ALL DAY LONG with no reason.

Some reasons people could use:

not fit for purpose
missold
shoddy, run down and tawdry facilities
inappropriate food
misleading advertising
use of word 'gala' etc

You'd be surprised how very very very little Visa need to allow a chargeback. I see it every day.
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Postby Ted M » 07/18/12 11:52 AM

Folks might conceivably return the Hughes book and demand that its cover price be refunded.
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Postby Tom Moore » 07/18/12 12:25 PM

From a confidential source I have heard that the FISM people were very unhappy with the way things were being planned many months in advance. They knew what was happening and could do nothing to stop it because it was too late.


That's frankly a ridiculous excuse, i've been parachuted in to re-write or re-stage massive chunks of much bigger shows with just a few days notice, i've been involved in much bigger concerts and events where the entire original project has been thrown out the window and re-created from scratch only a few weeks before the event purely because the director/producer/talent has wanted to take everything in another direction. I'm quite sure the heads of major magic societies could have pooled their contacts list and between them been able to pull together acts and organisers of a higher standard or with more experience who could have stepped in to help beef up the convention?

If they chose not to intervene because it was "too late" several weeks before the event then that shows a shocking lack of judgment, if they couldn't intervene because FISM procedures were too slow or there simply wasn't any quality control mechanisms in place then again there should be serious questions raised about how such a major and prestigious organisation's management could blindly hand its flagship brand over to an outsider without having a checking system in place?
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Postby R.E.Byrnes » 07/18/12 02:00 PM

The letter's perfunctory opening paragraph praising the "wonderful" event kind of dilutes the message that it was [censored].
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/18/12 04:30 PM

When my review of FISM is published in the September issue of Genii, you'll read my opinion of what a schizophrenic convention it was.

If all you did was attend the competition every day, you saw a good FISM because the level of the competitors was high (more so on stage than in close-up, but still high nonetheless). So you would have a completely different experience than a person attending the lectures and Gala shows.
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Postby spetz » 07/18/12 05:36 PM

[quote=Richard Kaufman

If all you did was attend the competition every day, you saw a good FISM because the level of the competitors was high (more so on stage than in close-up, but still high nonetheless). So you would have a completely different experience than a person attending the lectures and Gala shows. [/quote]

Second that
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Postby Davide Brizio » 07/18/12 06:46 PM

I can't wait to read it
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Postby R.E.Byrnes » 07/18/12 07:43 PM

Interesting; thanks for clarifying that there were such divergent experiences.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 07/18/12 08:58 PM

Is Fism meant to be a 'for profit' event? That seems to open up potential conflicts of interest. The taom is a 'traveling' convention. Some cities seem to try to make it a profit generating excercize. Most seem to try to break even and put on the best convention possible. Interestingly, the ones that operate without a profit motive tend to be the better conventions by a wide margin.

Perhaps there should be a Fism rule that the host club be allowed to keep only a small percentage of any profit (if any at all); the rest being forwarded to the next host city.

Sure, that may dissuade some people (those doing it just for the money) from participating. But I would think, in a case like this, having people committed to the ideal at the helm would more likely produce innovative and magic centric events.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/18/12 09:49 PM

Perhaps this document will be of interest:

Image
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Postby MaxNY » 07/18/12 10:03 PM

I guess I didn't realize that the Jury got paid...or is that estimation just airfare and hotel?
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/19/12 02:16 AM

When I was a member of a FISM jury, we got NOTHING, NADA, ZIP.
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Postby Max Maven » 07/19/12 03:57 AM

The FISM jury members do not get paid. The do get airfare, hotel and convention registration. (In the past they got nothing at all.)

There are, by my count, 20 jury members (nine each for stage and close-up, plus two special jurors). So, the figure listed for jury funding seems reasonable.

However, the figure listed for paid performers seems highly inflated, given what we saw. No question that at least some of the acts worked for little or no fee. At least a couple of them seem to have worked in exchange for a dealer's booth.
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 07/19/12 04:10 AM

I was a member of the Jury for the stage comp at The European Championships. I did got get paid. I was given a free registration and my accommodation was paid for. I had to pay for my own flights.

The reason I was asked to be a jury member is because we (The society of Irish Magicians) were in the early stages of putting our bid together for FISM 2012.

We had enlisted a PCO (Professional Conference Organiser) to help with our bid. We had also factored in to our budget that the club would receive a fee for bringing the event to Ireland.

We were told my our PCO that this is common practice in the conference business. We, and I guess me in particular, were of the opinion that this was a business and The Club were not going to be the only ones not making money out of this.

I see a lot of people, over the years. knocking Derek for making money from running conventions. I never understand why. Sure, you can disagree with his choice of artists, balance of shows etc ... but to whine about him making money out of it is ridiculous. It is a serious amount of work.
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Postby tristanmagic » 07/19/12 06:52 AM

I don't think it is fair to say that the gala shows only had third-rate acts!

Monday night gala featured performers like Soma, Tina Lenert, Compagnie Poc, Rafael, Topaz and Mike Caveney as the MC that where all first class.

On wednesday night we saw a great Voronin
and Stan Allen with his 'killer' rabbit was well received by the audience.

Friday night we saw the quick changes of Sos & Victoria, Paul Zerdin the ventriloquist, Rafael with preview of his brand new show and juggling team Sabrina Fackelli & kil that where all highlights

Of course we also saw some bad acts that don't belong on a gala show (or anywhere else for that matter)but it was not all third-rate!
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Postby AJRichards » 07/19/12 09:18 AM

Yann Frisch receiving his award

[video:youtube]rCQ5mkQFO_E[/video]
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/19/12 10:59 AM

The poor reception of all the Gala shows is not due to the fact that there were no good acts--there were some excellent acts indeed, but they were surrounded by acts that didn't belong at a major convention, or acts who just had an off show. There was no consistency to it, and the bad dragged down the good for most people.

To me, Tina Lenart's Mop Man act stood out as one of the finest moments in any of the Gala shows. And she got a deserved standing ovation for it. And the French juggler Compagnie Poc was BRILLIANT. If I had any money left in my budget he'd be coming to the Genii convention.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 07/19/12 11:16 AM

Anyone reminded by the Derek Lever dance of this historical footage?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIRU4uWV ... re=related
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Postby One Way Ticket » 07/19/12 03:52 PM

Richard Hatch wrote:
Anyone reminded by the Derek Lever dance of this historical footage ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIRU4uWV ... re=related




WOW :o

Those moves look eerily similar to Dereks.

Could it be.......???

No I won't say :grin:
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