My partner Alex and I applied for a table at Otakon to operate together, to help promote SFEER THEORY ( sfeertheory.littlefoolery.com ) and other works. We operate as a partnership/studio and that has really always been the case. The table was put under my name, simply because I was the one who registered it and that’s how we’ve always managed it, and it was promptly paid for. There were no real problems until it became evident I wouldn’t be able to attend due to offline issues.
I contacted Otakon’s AA no less than three times WELL in advance of the convention date to try to confirm Alex would be able to get a hold of our table with little issue. I heard no response from Otakon for three weeks, and I feel the only reason they finally replied to me was because I sent an inquiry to Otakon’s twitter asking if there was someone I could contact more directly for a response. I received a reply that same afternoon of the tweet. Whether this was a freakish coincidence or due to my persistence, I can’t say conclusively, but I’m leaning on the latter.
The reply I did get was a single line shutting us down, saying the table was non-refundable and non-transferable.
I replied clarifying I was neither asking for a refund, nor did I think this counted as a transfer, as it was OUR studio and only a technical issue that the table was under my name and if I had been attending, Alex would still be at the table selling OUR wares and promoting OUR projects.
They replied with a single line again saying it would still count as a transfer, as it was never under the studio’s name. Alex took over communications here trying to clarify the issue, and they finally sent us a reply that consisted of more than a sentence, establishing jumping through many, many official hoops as a way to allow Alex to take over. We’ve ended up going out of our way to try to register ourselves as a legitimate business (something we would have done anyway at some point, but this prompted us to do it sooner) but with a few delays. Alex has made inordinate efforts—a lot of time and money—breaking her back to appeal to what they are asking of us. It seems, though, that explaining those delays have made Otakon even more adamant that we were trying to cheat the system as apparently since we weren’t registered business at the time we contacted them (which they ignored for three weeks), and though we have other documents/tax records showing we work as a partnership, this counted as a dishonest way to earn a table transfer to them.
We’ve made every attempt to appeal to them, try to communicate as politely and professionally as possible, and make ourselves transparent since all we wanted was a simple solution to this very minor technical issue. Our experience with our correspondence with Otakon is they do not return that favor, or even offer it. All efforts to try to communicate were placed solely on myself and Alex, they do not make any attempt to solve anything, and when they do respond they are terse and dismissive.
We understand that Otakon is more corporate than the standard con, and we understand a lot of these strict rules were put in place due to past situations of people abusing loopholes in the AA policy. However this sort of service is nothing short of atrocious. It’s left a really bitter taste in both of our mouths, and also it feels like we’ve been unfairly robbed of the price of our table ($150 USD, for the record).
We are not the only registered AA attendees this year who have had problems achieving communication/resolution with the staff member(s) in charge of AA correspondence. We have fellow artists/friends who have been struggling in much the same way we have, trying to be as transparent as possible only to be shut down with no consideration to the reality of the situation, if they are not outright ignored. Those are not our stories to tell, however, but we know we are not alone in this.
It’s a disappointment for us. I have always enjoyed Otakon’s AA. it is one of the biggest in the convention circuit in North America, and we’ve made countless connections and friendships through it. Personally speaking, this entire incident has affected me negatively to the point I have no plans to attend Otakon again in the future, and I hope this serves as a warning for fellow artists/attendees of the risks of registering in Otakon’s AA.
- Jayd Ait-Kaci
EDIT: Otakon just confirmed with us that they never had a process to register as a group/studio/non-entity, despite the entire correspondence hinging that this was our mistake from the start, this one small technicality that we never registered under the studio name. They’re robbing us, plain and simple. We paid for that table and have a claim to it, and they are refusing it to us over a policy they never had.