Mum with terminal cancer still fighting for viral Wonka experience refund 

Tracey Hanley had booked the event in Glasgow as a surprise for her nine-year-old daughter.

Mum with terminal cancer still fighting for viral Glasgow Wonka experience refund  Stuart Sinclair

A mother with terminal cancer is fighting for a refund weeks after the ill-fated viral Willy Wonka experience was cancelled.

Willy’s Chocolate Experience, organised by “immersive” events company House of Illuminati, promised ticket goers an “enchanting” day out where “dreams come to life”.

Held at the Box Hub Warehouse in Glasgow, parents were promised a day of “pure imagination and wonder”.

The “immersive experience” was cancelled hours after opening due to frustration from visitors who branded it a “farce” and said their children were left upset by the quality of the attraction which had been advertised using AI-generated imagery.

Willy's Chocolate Experience in Glasgow: The 'immersive experience' was cancelled hours after opening.Stuart Sinclair

Tracey Hanley had booked the event to take her nine-year-old daughter.

“I was going to tell her on the day of the event, and surprise her”, Ms Hanley told STV News.

She wanted to make special memories with her child after being diagnosed with incurable cancer in July last year.

“They can’t cure it so its just chemo to slow the spread down,” the 49-year-old said.

Willy's Chocolate Experience in Glasgow.Stuart Sinclair

The mum paid £56 to go to the event on the Sunday, but after seeing the chaos and cancellation she received an email saying her refund would arrive in five to ten days.

Ms Hanley is still waiting on that refund 17 days later, despite receiving the email from House of the Illuminati telling her to contact her bank.

“I went to the bank but they asked me to supply a ARN number for the refund, and I have asked the organisers but they haven’t responded to me,” she said.

Willy's Chocolate Experience in Glasgow.Stuart Sinclair

An Acquirer Reference Number (ARN) is a unique number assigned to a credit card transaction as it is processed.

Ms Hanley said she can claim it back through the bank but until 30 days from the payment date.

“It’s disappointing, but infuriating they can’t refund for the event that didn’t take place,” she told STV News.

While some customers have had money returned to their accounts by their banks, many others have struggled to get refunds processed.

Following the backlash, House of Illuminati apologised to customers and said it should have cancelled the event as it was “let down last minute” by suppliers, adding the event “did not take shape as planned”.

Video and images from Willy’s Chocolate Experience went viral on social media and made headlines around the world.

The Unknown at the failed Wonka chocolate experience in GlasgowSupplied

Actors, including those playing the parts of Willy Wonka, Oompa Loompas and a new character The Unknown – who has no corresponding basis in Roald Dahl’s magical story – have told of how chaotic and disastrous the organisation was.

House of Illuminati said “numerous customers” had received refunds.

The company’s founder Billy Coul told STV News the “repercussions of this event on the health and well-being of those involved have been profound”.

The entrepreneur said both himself and people unassociated with his company have received threats of “a horrific nature”.

He urged “everyone to reflect on the impact of their actions and words” and said there was “never an intention to deceive or harm anyone”.

“I fully acknowledge the anger and frustration that many feel,” he said.

“For any customer yet to receive a refund, I recommend reaching out to your banking provider to initiate a dispute or other method as a potential course of action.

“I am profoundly sorry for the inconvenience and distress this situation has caused.”

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