BBB warns about Memphis ‘Bubble Run’ as customers lose money

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Mid-South Better Business Bureau is warning runners to be cautious of an event popping up on social media.

It’s called the 'Bubble Run' and as the name suggests, it’s a 5K where you run through giant bubbles and have a good time.

The event was suddenly postponed last year, causing many participants to lose money.

But it’s being advertised again this spring.

Ads for the run online immediately caught Ashley Wylie’s attention.

“There’s bubbles all over the place," she said.

It’s described as “running through Willy Wonka’s factory” with colored foam head to toe where you can dance your way through.

“The pictures were all bright and colorful and beautiful and it’s a 5K, so it’s exercise and a portion of it goes to charity, so we were all for it," said Wylie.

She requested work off for the event and signed up with five other people.

The run was scheduled to take place at the Memphis International Raceway in Millington in November.

However, Wylie and others received an email it’d been cancelled just weeks before.

“There was no reason why," said Wylie. "They did apologize for the inconvenience and told us that it would be transferred to the next date.”

Their website makes it clear there’s a no-refund policy.

Wylie said they’ve tried contacting the company several times on social media and via their website but haven’t heard back.

Instead, she saw a new event page on Facebook saying the run was now taking place this May.

“That’s where the frustration came in was with the lack of communication," said Wylie. "No communication from them, period.”

She knows things come up leading to events being cancelled, but it seems for this bubble run -- that happens often.

We found similar stories all over the country of the 5K being postponed last minute.

Tickets range from $20 to $50.

In Minnesota, Colorado, Arkansas and more, runners complain of signing up and losing that money.

“It sounds kind of like a scam," said Wylie. "If it’s a scam, shame on them. If it’s not, they definitely need to hire better people who are communicating with these people who are giving them money for the event.”

“They are not BBB accredited. They do have a 'B' rating, but they have almost 150 complaints and lots of reviews; lots of those are negative, they all say pretty much the same thing," said Nancy Crawford with the BBB of the Mid-South.

A lot of those reviews claim there’s a pattern of cancelling, rescheduling and no communication.

Ultimately, hundreds of people say they’ve lost money.

The BBB says it’s important to do your research beforehand, especially when a company has a no-refund policy.

Your best bet is to look for reviews and complaints online.

“This is a feel-good family event and it’s family friendly, and it’s something people can do with their kids and so it sounds wonderful, but remember just because the website looks professional doesn’t mean that the company operates in a professional manner," said Crawford.

WREG did find posts on social media where runners shared pictures of what appeared to be successful bubble runs in other cities and countries.

We also checked in with the venue, Memphis International Raceway, who said the company signed a contract and put down a deposit for the new May date.

“One of the statements I read on their website is they partner with charities, but that sometimes means they don’t give them any money. They ask the runners to donate when they register," said Crawford.

We reached out to the charity they say they’re partnered with, but they didn’t want to comment.

If you want to risk it, Crawford recommends using a credit card so you’re more protected if you don’t get what you paid for.

It’s worth posting any complaints on the BBB website as well since the company has been seen responding and offering refunds there.

We’ve reached out to the parent company 'Cool Events' and to the Bubble Run organizers multiple times for the past two weeks to get a comment for this story, but we have not been able to connect over the phone.

As of now, the run is scheduled for May 12th.

We’ll be checking if it takes place.

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