Event fail: ‘Absolute rip-off, $100 for nothing’
A HIGHLY anticipated event billed as a real-life version of the popular Nintendo game Mario Kart has been slammed as an "absolute rip-off" by furious customers complaining of filthy costumes, poor food and not enough go-karting.
Mushroom Racing was modelled after the hugely popular Japanese event MariCar, which takes costumed drivers through busy inner-city areas like Roppongi, Shibuya and Shinjuku.
MariCar sells around 1000 spots a month, and news the model was being brought to Australia generated online buzz earlier this year with hundreds of prerelease tickets sold to attend what was being touted as the "rally of a lifetime".
But following the first series of events in Melbourne last month ahead of Sydney and Brisbane dates later this year, attendees have painted a grim picture of the reality - reminiscent of recent organisational disasters such as Kylie Kwong's Chinese New Year market, Luke Mangan's Bondi Beach debacle and The Domain's Lost Picnic.
"Absolute rip-off," one reviewer wrote on TripAdvisor. "$100 for nothing. Embarrassing. The ACCC should step in. Disaster of an event." Another wrote, "If you have a ticket for the coming month get a refund ASAP. It isn't what you think it is."
The Mushroom Racing website says included in the ticket price - $85 to $90 plus a $15 "fee" and GST - is "costume hire (characters)", "snack (mushroom-style appetiser)", "CBD pick up and drop off", "20 laps", "DJ and after-party", "games room activities and more".
The website stresses that "we are not associated with Nintendo or Mario Kart".
One customer, who did not want her name to be used, told news.com.au the event was "extremely over-priced and over-promised". She said the costumes were "dirty and cheap" like the "type you buy from $2 shops" and "not washed at all".
"At least 95 per cent were Mario and Luigi and only a few scattered princess dresses - not even Princess Peach - and some random Batman and Superwoman outfits," she said. "The arcade games promised were just two Wii consoles, everything else you had to pay."
She said they were initially promised a "mushroom burger" but that was later changed on the website to a "mushroom-style appetiser", while the "after-party" consisted of a DJ and a few helium balloons, which one reviewer likened to a "'90s school disco".
Attendees were told to wait at Federation Square in Melbourne for a bus that would take them to a secret location - which turned out to be Le Mans Go Karts in Dandenong, 40km away. Despite not being the event organiser, the venue's TripAdvisor page has been flooded with one-star reviews.
"Once we arrived at the track there was no one around to greet the group and a lot of people spent time roaming the car park looking for an entrance," one person wrote.
"Once in the so called 'entertainment area' you are told to wait 40 minutes 'til karting starts. After 20 minutes in the kart you are then ushered back into the entertainment area for the next hour and 40 minutes until the bus arrives to take us back to Melbourne."
One reviewer wrote, "My friend's Superman costume had a stain that looked like someone had wet themself in it."
Another said, "There is no 'Mario Kart' theme, as they don't have any licensing from Nintendo. The costumes provided are some crappy onesies crammed into a bucket, the costumes smelled like crap and were extremely dirty."
The same reviewer pointed out that 20 laps at Le Mans normally costs $59. "Essentially, an organisation has found a way to execute a great marketing plan to deceive customers into attending an established go-karting track in Melbourne, at almost double the cost of what the actual track charges," they wrote.
Another added, "So disappointed. We were excited when we signed up to Mushroom Racing only to be driven to Le Mans in Dandenong! We spent so much time and money to meet in the city only to be taken to a disorganised go-karting venue."
Attendees stressed that the Le Mans staff were nice but the "actual event itself was very sketchy". "In the end most of us had done about 16 laps before they ended the race, with our friend who came 2nd only having done 18 laps," one reviewer said.
"They'd also organised a random AF laser tag game, which was fine but we'd paid for go-karting, not 15 minutes of go-karting, 15 minutes of laser tag."
In response to one complaint, a Le Mans spokesman wrote, "We are sorry to hear about your bad experience on the Mushroom Racing Day. Le Mans Go Karts is the venue hosting the events for Mushroom Racing. While their event was a success we are disappointed when we hear any one attending Le Mans has not left with a smile on their face."
There was one positive review, however. "Where else can you get dressed up in Mario costumes, eat mushroom cupcakes and watch hot dog eating contests," they wrote. "Oh and some go-karting as well! Super fun day at Mushroom Racing!"
A spokesman for Mushroom Racing said he was "obviously disappointed to hear" the complaints "as we have been working hard to produce a high-quality event … which the majority of our customers have enjoyed as you can see from our social media pages".
"Tickets were priced at $85 per ticket which included buses to and from the venue at a cost of between $20-$25 per person along with staff costs, props, costumes and other such event items," he said.
"Customers have been given 20+ laps however for safety reasons a very small amount of people may have received a couple less due to rain. All costumes are washed, the only issue we had was when it rained but new costumes were provided.
"All customers had been contacted regarding the event details and a variety of appetisers have been given to customers along with additional prizes on the day including free drinks, food, laser tag and drive days which were not included in the ticket price.
"We will continue to make improvements based on feedback and I thank you for your concerns. We will certainly be sending a feedback form to customers so that any improvements can be made going forward."