Posted by: Mr. Miller | 2012/07/30

Mud Wars (or was it Scam Wars?)

PLEASE NOTE: A follow up to this, Mud Wars Part II – An Apology Isn’t Enough just posted August 1, 2012


 

Mud Wars 3/4 mile check-in line. Photo from Mike P. on FourSquare.comSix thousand people in Chicago got scammed this past weekend and the big question being asked is: What will be done about it?

Mud Wars – which billed itself as “Chicago’s Mud Run” and took place on July 28, 2012 on Chicago’s Northerly Island – deceived participants on such a high level that people are now talking of lawsuits against the owner of Biz Events, Joe Bizzieri.

The complaints are plenty (see below) and answers are elusive. Within 24 hours of the event, the organizer’s website has been taken down, its Facebook page wiped of all negative comments and complaints, and the owner either refusing to answer his phone or having it disconnected altogether.

How bad was it? Well, in no particular order…

  • Estimated time to check-in was over an hour with lines reaching past three-quarters of a mile.
  • The line to check-in backpacks and personal belongings was over 40 minutes.
  • There was no security where backpacks and personal belongs were stored. They were in an open room sorted on multiple tables.
  • “Goody bags” which were to have dog tags and free beer tickets were nowhere to be found. Some people reported that these bags, too, were all laid out on tables with no security and people ended up pillaging them for the free beer tickets. Yet later one staff member said that the bags never showed up due to a delivery problem.
  • At check-in, a friend of mine asked about the free beer and was told, quote, “Oh. You have to buy two beers to get one free.” He later asked the beer vendor about that and was literally laughed at.
  • There were five, count ‘em, five Port-o-Potties with no toilet paper for 6,000 registered runners and thousands more friends and families.
  • Advertised a “family friendly”, there was to be a kiddie obstacle course, face-painting, and bean bag toss games. None of the above were present.
  • The run was billed as a 5k. Yet one runner reported his Nike GPS calculated the course at 1.75 miles. Another runner was explicitly told by staff that the same course had to be run 2-3 times to reach the 5k distance.
  • The obstacles, themselves, were built and completed less than a half-hour before the run.
  • By the 3rd wave, the obstacles started to break apart with one runner telling me a 2 x 4 cracked and broke while he was hanging from it.
  • One obstacle had broken glass underneath it.
  • The three advertised giant mud pits were not giant and not until the 3rd wave of runners did they actually become mud because the water trucks hadn’t arrived yet.
  • No water was available on the course nor at the finish line. Though there was a golf cart selling bottles of water to those waiting in the registration line for $2 a piece.
  • There were no official start times or waves (after the first two or three). Hundreds just sort of mulled around the starting line and started at will.
  • There were no security, staff or volunteers at any of the obstacles in case of an injury.
  • The DJ was a guy playing music from his iPad with what could be described as distorted, 80’s style, speakers.
  • Runners were supposed to be hosed down at the end of the run (by “Mud Girls” no less), yet there was no clean up option provided. Instead, runners detoured straight to the beach and into Lake Michigan to clean off.
  • Registration was supposedly closed at 6,000 runners though there was no verification system in place and ANYONE could have ran for free (and I believe some did)
  • Entrance into the “party area” was $15 per adult – paid in advanced – though everyone was being admitted.

Additionally the course was said to have been designed by former Marines and ex-NFL football players. I’ve seen some Marine training and, like Al Bundy, played just high school football. There’s no way this is true. The obstacles were designed by, at best, some guy with extra wood and nails laying around his backyard and a blueprint drawn on a cocktail napkin at some dive bar in Chicago Ridge.

I shudder to think what might’ve happened if someone got hurt. I wonder how much personal property was stolen. I question how the City of Chicago or even Living Social and other sites involved in selling registrations could allow this happen. Or, I wonder, what they can do after the fact?

Joe Bizzieri and his company Mud Wars committed outright fraud to the tune of at least $300,000. I’m hoping at least one of the 6,000 registrants was a lawyer and I’m hoping that somehow, this little BLOG makes its way to that lawyer and I can get in on the pending litigation. All I want is mine and my friend’s registration fees refunded and the $22 I ponied up for parking.

Mr. Bizzieri. You owe me $117.00.

PLEASE NOTE: A follow up to this, Mud Wars Part II – An Apology Isn’t Enough just posted August 1, 2012


 

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Responses

  1. I was part of this event & what a rip-off!!! There is a facebook page called ”
    Mud Wars Chicago- Dispute your charges- Event was a total SCAM” join it…some people have contacted the media & are lawyering up…

    Public Event ·

    Like

    • Can you post the link to the FB page? I can’t find it searching FB…. Scam indeed! A few of us in my group are lawyers – something will definitely be done about this!

      Like

  2. Couldn’t agree more, complete scam and waste of money and time!

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  3. I went and was super disappointed!! I got a credit from groupon, but no refund.

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    • Contact your CC company and file a charge-back – explain what happened (use this blog as a reference) and they should side with you, refunding the money from Groupon.

      Affecting a company’s finances is the number one way to have it take action.

      Like

  4. I contacted Living Social, but haven’t heard back from them yet. Stick to the Warrior Dash!

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    • Call Living Social at 8775214181 they will refund your money, no questions asked.

      Like

  5. I agree with everything. This was the most awful “race” ever. I don’t even think I can remotely call it that even! I am mad and outraged they would scam people like that. What kind of people are these!? I don’t even know where to start…but I agree with everything said, so I guess I don’t need to say anymore!

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  6. Many people also left their running shoes since the website said they would be washed and donated. Instead, the pile of shoes was left there and thrown in the trash.

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    • The shoes were not left, after a few people grabbed about 8 pairs… for themselves… witnessed by myself… I made a comment.. “really how can you take shoes being donated to the Less unfortunate”… I actually bought brand new shoes for the event to donate… I believe this is an event that became overwhelming for the coordinator himself… He did not have the man power to which he probably did not understand he would need. I honestly can not say it was the worst run I have done, but truly it could have been better managed. I am not sticking up for him… but I can see both sides of all the issues. It comes down to “MANPOWER”. As for Tough Mudders and Warrior Dash,, not that much difference… in the course obstacles.. to be honest..
      the strudiness of the obstacles could have been better… but I blame the people that were hired and put them together.. those he had to pay….. well over all I actually had fun, I volunteered the 1st 2 hours for FREE and checked people in.. accoriding to what I was asked to do, I ran the course,,, had some fun, listened to many peole complaining ,, and listened to many that also chalked it up to an experienxce and continued there day with fun….

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      • As much as I’ve bitched about the entire event, I’ve tried giving some benefit of the doubt to the promoters and such but can’t. Sorry.

        But Michelle – how can you honestly say this was comparable to the Warrior Dash? It’s like comparing the Kalahari water park in Wisconsin Dells to running through a broken sprinkler in your backyard. I’ve done two Warrior Dashes and they were superb in every way to Mud Wars.

        And yes. Shoes were left. I believe it was on FourSquare but someone posted a picture taken Sunday morning of a good sized shoe-pile.

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  7. Agree with everyone on here completely – luckily I was in the second wave (started at 10:30) so I only had to wait in line to check-in for an hour. I can confirm the bags were available – for free to whomever wanted to take them – no security at all. I grabbed three plastic bags before the race to put my wet clothes in afterwards. It wasn’t until well after the race that someone from another group pointed out the drink wristbands (which were sopping wet/muddy at that point) were in the bags.

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  8. a complete scam. I was very dissapppointed.

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  9. I was here! And it was HORRIBLE! I emailed youswoop where I bought from and complained about the broken obstacles, long lines, no workers, not a 5k, no dog tags ect…. Mudwars website is gone and so is there facebook page. I will be disputing the charges to my card!

    Like

  10. Thanks for this! I was getting ready to begin posting now!!!

    Like

  11. ” APPLAUSE”..!!!!!!! I could not agree with you more!

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  12. Two things…. Bravo for writing this, the second… Mud Wars= Scamola. I must admit, that after the first two-hours of complaining (while waiting in line of course), my group and I just decided to make the best of the situation. We threw some mud on ourselves, instagramed some cool photos, and did the best to feign being scammarooed on all respectable social media outlets(Did I mention we muddied ourselves… ok, just checking). This race was sad… and horrible… but mostly sad because I highly doubt that anyone actually believes that this money is going to a charity. Also… How did these people get the backing of Sports Authority??? I can’t believe they would actually sponsor something like this?!?

    Like

  13. Groupon seems to be giving refunds in the form of credit towards other Groupon purchases. I just got word that Living Social is giving Deal Bucks credits (assumingly towards other Living Social offers).

    Our collective efforts are going strong. Keep it up!

    Like

  14. Get over the 65 dollars. It was for the Vets and Batter woman. Charity events are noy always the way they should be. Voluteer are hard to come by. Selfish people that are always looking for a handout. Stop making Chicago look bad.
    It was for the men and woman that fight for are freedom that do not ask for handouts. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Clearly you are the type of people that could careless about the men and woman that serve are country. Because other wise you would of not given to the Vets. No wonder they don’t have the right supplies is because of people like you. Everyone wants something for nothing. Would you risk your life for them. Probally not because everyone is looking for a refund. I am so sorry that the Vets cannot count on Chicago.

    Like

    • If money went to charity, of course that’s a great thing. But let’s face it, Bill, if the rest of the event was run as shitty as this – what degree of confidence should anyone have that the money went to the right places?

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    • I don’t think that’s what people are saying at all. They want their money to go to a good cause but it seems the way this event was run, it’s likely the money is not going where they said it would.

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  15. Bill… to some extent you are correct. These guys were sitting on a gold mine with this. They had a great cause, but but did a horrible execution. Good for you that you have faith in this event….Let me ask- were you there? What did you think? Honestly? Did it seem legitimate to you?? If so, I think you may stand alone.

    6,000 people signed up because they BELIEVE in this cause. It is sad because no one thinks that the money spent on this race is actually going to a charity. So unfortunately, the only thing making Chicago or these charities look bad are the event and its organizers.

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  16. I can honestly say the biggest issue was “MAN POWER”. I see all the complaints, I see all the issues, Yet I see nothing about anyone taking responsibility for them selves. I am not sticking up the this mis-managed event, yet I will say this. “If You could plainly see the course from the line, you could plainly see the area where to leave your bags, and you can plainly see all the issues that could be — NOT too mention hearing about all the complaints as people left after hours of doing there run, YET YOU STILL ATTENED, CHOOSE TO LEAVE YOUR BAG, RAN THE RACE, STAYED FOR A COUPLE HOURS… HHHMMM — if my GUT tells me something is HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, SUCKS, ETC… I am gone and out the door. Just like if I attened an event for any other reason. I agree with all the issues, but REALLY take on some RESPONSIBILITY for YOUR OWN CHOICE TO HAVE STAYED. Everyone is complaining about there $30.00 to $65.00 dollars,, I understand your frustration,,, I have not seen anyone comment about the fact that many people that actuallu were working did not get paid yet – they are wating on there funds for services provided.. which is much more than $65.00…To be be honest I think I worked CROWD THERAPY FOR HOURS, WHERES MY PAYMENT- lol j/k, you get the idea !
    I would say Give the Coordinator a chance to get himself together… and figure out how he is gonna try to fix the issue. I am sure he did not PLAN for DISASTER… I do honeslty believe that soemtimes things don’t go over the way you would like… I myself work for the VETRANS of this country.. I know complaining is so much easier than actually finding a solution to make the best of it… I am glad to see some people did at least post they had fun, weather it was becasue of there friends, or any other reason… OVER ALL IT WAS NOT THE WORST RACE I RAN….. I HAVE RAN MANY…
    I would also like for everyone to know that depending upon your start time.. if you had a race start time for 10am.. you should have been there an hour ealier.. thousands of people did not show up for registartion on time… in accordance for there start time… 8am should have been the first registartion time.. There was also the issue of people not that did not have proof of registration.. so the poor soles like MYSELF had too look them up manually.. through 10 different list.. of mind you THOUSANDS… of participants….
    I am a firm believer that if your GUT is telling you something,, and many other complaints are loud and clear… and you can see for yourself,, there are issues in what you expected within the course itsefl.. when you get up to the REGISTRATION DESK,, “ask for your refund right there and then” WHy continue to go into an event.. that you can VISUALLY SEE.. is not up to what you felt it should have been or ADVERTISED TO BE,,, “et A Refund”.
    I am not sticking up for the thinsg that went wrong, as it is very understandable… Yet I do feel taking into consdieration your GUT feeling.

    I could waste my energy and be upset and complain to the END of TIME, but why… It will be the BIGGEST LEARNING EXPERIENCE for the Coordinator of this event.. I feel, his ACTIONS from this point are CRUCIAL.. It has only been 2 days.. Like I said give the guy a chance to get over his HEART ATTACK… and see if any good comes in return.. you may get refunds, or free fee registration if he does any more events… etc.. the possibilites are there…… I dont think this guy PURPOSELY wanted to cause anyone all these issues that happened…. I hope everyone is given back in some way or another.. weather it is refunds.. free run if he does another run.. an apology.. etc…. as I paid for my run also…
    For the most part I actually had fun…Bought my $2.00 water, bought a few shirts from the VENODRS.. and soe food… hung with friends/family… learned a valuable lesson… and I am MOVING ON WITH MY LIFE – til the next RUN FOR FUN…. take care everyone !

    Like

    • Totally agree with you. We should always Make the most of situations. Be optimistic. Quit complaining. Get over it. So many people are always trying to get something for nothing. I don’t believe he ment for this to be so bad. I hope no one was hurt. … That’s really all that matters. Long lines did suck and I was super thirsty and did not know anyone was selling water but I still had fun and do feel bad for those that didn’t.

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  17. This was a complete waste of both my time and money. Even if I paid off the groupon it was poorly put together and ran. I said to my group that I could’ve put this so called obstacle course better if I had five minutes to spare. I think that a full refund should be done…from the parking, registration and price of Beer.

    Like

  18. There is an apology letter at http://mudwars.org

    Like

  19. Something needs to be done. This was a huge scam. My daughter and her friends spent their own money to do this, in honor or her grandfather , who was a veteran. I want to see the people, the check, and a receipt of deposit, IF the money did go to charity! I would like to get these kids their money back, and their gum shoes that they left for an alleged donation. These kids wanted to do this so that others would benefit! Now someone has them questioning their good deed! This guy needs to come forward and apologize and do the right thing!

    Like

  20. Wow. Lead story on WGN!

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  21. As this was my first mud run I didn’t have a set expectation of the event. However, you know when you have been scammed…..I bought my registration through Groupon; before I purchased it I went on the mud wars site and checked out the description and details of the event, looked legit. However, the facts are the facts……what was advertised to the consumer on the event’s site and by third party resellers such as Groupon, LivingSocial, etc….were not delivered. Was it the organizers first event….maybe, was he way over his head….defiantly, and were there external forces out of his control that affected the outcome of the event….possibly. Whatever excuse he or the people that organized this event come up with, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we did not receive what we paid for…..

    Stopped by the park the next day………the huge pile of shoes that was supposed to be “donated” to charity…..was still there; and shortly after was taken away in a garbage truck by the park district.

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  22. My niece went over the monkey bars and put her hand directly on a nail. We found the ambulance but they had no water to clean the wound. Two young attendants used an IV drip to twinkle water on the wound and put some gauze on her finger. Her other dirty fingers holding the gauze immediately filled her wound with dirt again. In the meantime, we tried to let find someone to tell about the nail…with no luck. A few minutes later, a guy walked over to the ambulance having put his hand on the same nail. How many people exchanged blood on that nail? Unbelievable…and maddening.

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  23. Manpower? N

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  24. TANYA GAUGHN A SCAMMER HERSELF
    WGN NEEDS TO DO THERE HOMEWORK OF CREDIBILITY
    What an angry woman. Goes public on national tv. about a MUD WARS SCAM. Who is also a scammer herself. Was revenge on the public her true cause ?

    http://mamatutuscammer.blogspot.com/

    Like

  25. http://mamatutuscammer.blogspot.com/2011/09/shes-baaaaaaaaack.html

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  26. The monkey bars were a deathtrap. The rungs literally broke off after the first wave tried to swing across them leaving exposed nails/screws that I and many others stabbed their palms on. I shudder to think how many peoples blood was mingled on those screws.

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  27. It looks like organizing these “charity” events is becoming commonplace. There’s the ‘Run from The Infected’ 5K zombie obstacle course coming up and the organizer listed his own company as the charity AFTER I asked about the proceeds on their Facebook page. They also deleted my entire discussion with them where I said the entire thing sounded fishy. Luckily I screen capped it just in case. How do people get away with this ?

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  28. After reading this, I was worried the earth would stop rotating around the solar system. I waited a day, and the sun set and rose again. We can continue to live our lives.

    Like


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