LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There is nothing pretty about a faceoff between a local bridal show and some of its vendors. Businesses paid hundreds of dollars to sign up for a wedding expo only to see it postponed over and over again. Months later that wedding expo still hasn't happened, so frustrated business owners asked the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter to investigate the guy in charge. We discovered it's not the first time he's run into problems.
Special Occasions Bridal Expo in Louisville has a history of booking events, but not following through. That makes the people who paid Tim Ash money skeptical of his claim the bridal show will happen.
"I don't think he's been honest about anything," said Tiffany Wade.
Wade is a Mary Kay representative who paid Ash $300 to rent booth space at his Special Occasions Bridal Expo. The event was originally advertised on his website for June 10 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on Blankenbaker Parkway in Louisville. But five days before the expo, Ash pulled the plug.
"I think we lost out," said Katie Howard, rep for Lia Sophia Jewelry. She and her business partner, Megan Hicks, also paid Ash for booth space only to see him cancel at the last minute.
"Sent me an email said there was a family emergency, said they weren't going to be able to hold the show on that date," Hicks said.
The Troubleshooter Department discovered there never actually was a show booked on that date. Ramada's general manager told us Ash made inquiries, but never actually signed a contract. Ash told the vendors his wedding expo would be rescheduled for July 29, again to be held at the Ramada. But once again Ash posted the date to his website without signing a contract. And again Ash ended up cancelling the show.
"Then all of a sudden there was an August date listed of August 19," Hicks said.
This time Ash did sign a contract with the Holiday Inn on Hurstbourne. But the director of sales for the hotel said Ash never paid his deposit, so she tore up the agreement. The hotel said some vendors didn't find out the show wasn't happening until the Thursday before when they started calling to find out when they could set up.
The women all said they asked for their money back.
"On several occasions," Hicks added.
But Ash pointed them, and us, to a clause in the contract he makes vendors sign. It reads "no refunds," and goes onto say he has the right to change the date and location of the Expo at anytime.
"However, when you never had a date to begin with I don't understand how your contract can be considered valid," Hicks argued.
Ash, who made the rounds on local media to advertise a wedding expo he held in January, would not appear on camera for this story. By phone Ash told me that in every case his shows were cancelled to avoid conflicts with other bridal expo shows scheduled around the same time which Ash said would be bad for business.
But we discovered Ash's business history isn't real good. We dug up a cease and desist letter sent by the Kentucky State Fair Board after they caught Ash falsely advertising that January show was going to be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center. The Fair Board said Ash was selling space in a location he didn't have a contract for and the letter said exhibitors were calling the Fair Board for refunds.
Some of those businesses complained to the Better Business Bureau which has now hit Special Occasions with an "F" rating.
"I just can't believe somebody would take advantage of so many local businesses like that," Wade said.
Ash said he's not trying to take advantage of anybody and that the Special Occasions Wedding Expo has been rescheduled once again, this time for October 14 at the Paroquet Springs Conference Center in Shepherdsville. The executive director said Ash has signed a contract although she's still waiting for the deposit.
The cease and desist letter was not the first run in the Fair Board has had with Ash. Between 2002 and 2007 Ash had a handful of shows in the Kentucky Exposition Center and we found emails and letters that show the Fair Board complained about late payments. It also had to hound him to get the keys to the front door back when he didn't return them and even canceled a show after Ash didn't submit the proper paperwork.
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