Unfortunately, the Big 25 year reunion drama is STILL not over.  This lady is still sending emails filled with HER assumptions about what we did or didn’t do and sending them to everyone in the class with an email.  After stressing over it all weekend, Sunday night I wrote her a reply since she mentioned my name several times in her email to the world.  She of course responded to that in a hateful manner and sent to everyone (I just sent my comments to her).  Of course she didn’t use my email in her email so the world didn’t see what I said.  I pretty much clarified what she said (all assumptions) and pointed out to her that “while you are seeking guidance from your company lawyer, you might want to ask him/her about defamation of character because that is what you are doing with your assumptions….using your company email address no less”.  Naturally she had a smart-ass reply but she must have consulted the lawyer because she threw back in my face the definition of defamation and that she was told defamation is hard to prove due to the 1st Amendment….She doesn’t think telling everyone that I knew we would cancel when I deposited her check on 9/4/08 and pretty much we probably collected more money than we let on (in other words we are stealing according to her).  She claimed she had 5 other classmates who agreed with her.  I knew of 3 of them, one of which was the one whom the nasty email gal paid her registration.  She was including herself in that count as well.  I didn’t realize she had been in contact with another lady but I didn’t know this lady so doesn’t surprise me.  Yeah I’m sure they want their money back but they are not understanding why we can’t and no one else is acting the way the email lady is.  Everyone else is being understanding even though they would prefer a full refund.  All those people who claimed they would donate money….never did so we were forced to go ahead and refund what we had left.  We only kept $12.50 per person that ended up covering all  non-refundable admin costs (DJ deposit and postage)

Not sure this lady will pursue anything against us.  I truly think we did nothing wrong.  The application said the registration fee was non-fundable and we never dreamed of doing that or that the reunion would be cancelled so we did refund all we had left.  Our class officer’s are in agreement with what we did and support us.  It has really ruined any chance of future reunions because after this I’m sure no one will want to organize one.  Email lady did point out she would not attend any future reunions with mine or the chairman’s name attached….that’s fine….we don’t want her nor will either of probably help again.

We did learn several lessons from this reunion and I hope if we do have a future reunion they take these to heart.

1.  Make sure you don’t pick a date during Spring or Fall Break.  My child isn’t old enough for school and the other lady homes schools hers so we had no true idea we picked a date at the end of Fall Break and lots of folks had planned family trips during that time

2.  Ask the classmates what kind of reunion they would prefer (fancy, picnic, casual).  If you don’t have money for postage you can at least email those you have addresses for)  You can do this for the date too.  You may not get everyone but a good enough percentage to get a better idea.

3.  Don’t rely on RSVPs.  We had over 40 RSVPs on Classmates.com and only one actually registered.  We also got several emails and calls from people who said they were coming.  We relied on those official and nonofficial RSVP’d which is why we still thought we could hold the reunion 2-3 weeks before the event

4.  Make sure you have a clause on your registration application regarding the fee.  We had the terms “non-refundable”.  I think it would have been more clear to state something about when it is non-refundable…like if you don’t attend and maybe state stipulations if the event is cancelled.  If you need 15-25% for admin costs and everything else is refundable if the event is cancelled then say that.  That would cover everything.  We never had this problem before but we’d never had to cancel before.  I don’t know if there are truly laws regarding the statement “refundable” if that’s all the application said.  But to me, if the thing says non-refundable…it’s non-refundable.  I do know that in another couple of days we would have had to pay the venue a non-refundable deposit…..and if we had….we would not have even had enough to give back to the classmates.  It wouldn’t be fair for the committee to eat that cost either.  There were no winners in this drama.  We all lost money.

5.  Use email as much as possible to save on postage.

6.  Don’t bother including other classes in your reunion unless you have people from that class working on the committee.  Sure our class wanted to include the other classes but the other classes didn’t truly seem to be that interested.  Our committee was too small to start from stratch searching for other class classmates.

7.  Don’t try and hold an event if you only have 3-4 people working on the committee and if you do try…be sure and evenly divide up any upfront admin costs.  Also make sure everyone does their fair share of work.

8.  Put a comment in the registration form regarding the deadlines and stipulate “NO PAYMENT AT THE DOOR”.  Our committee chairman said she had 25 people call her the day of the reunion to see what time it started because they wanted to pay at the door.  Okay these people should know you can’t plan an event like we did and NOT know who all was coming.  I know I got a call a couple of days before the reunion would have been held from someone who wanted to bring me money.

9.  Set a deadline and make sure you annotate it on the registration.  If by the deadline you don’t have enough…cancel then.  Our deadline was not on the original application but was on the last reminder postcards.  We set the deadline too close to the event because we were optimistic.  Reunions in the past have shown us that people WAIT TILL THE LAST MINUTE.

10.  You will not please everyone.  Whether it’s the venue, the food, the entertainment or the registration fee (and/or registration fee policy).

There are probably more lessons I would like to pass on and if I think of more I’ll add them.

Overall this reunion planning has been a nightmare.  All we wanted to do is have a great reunion.  My husband has already told me not to get involved again and after those emails I might be embarrassed to even come to one if we even have another one.  I guess now I’ll just wait and see what happens next.  Everyone should have gotten their refund yesterday or today.  If the disgruntled lady pursues this she’ll be out more money taking this to small claims than she even lost with the registration.