I was to attend a recent event in NYC that was to be the introduction of a new online community in the US. The company, similar to DaniWeb, has been around for 10 years. Unlike DaniWeb, they charge their community members a yearly fee. Because of a sudden death in my family I was unable to attend or have anyone else from my company attend in my place. I alerted the company and I knew that the lateness of my alerting them to my inability to attend would make it impossible for them to fill my spot. Although the event was free to attend, they did ask for a credit card to secure the spot and if you did not attend you would be charge a fee of $395. One would think that a sudden death would be an acceptable reason to not attend without penalty.
Unfortunately, one of their VPs involved in sales, sent me an e-mail informing me that while my families loss was unfortunate I would get charged a penalty. But, so that I would get something out of it they would make it a membership and at a discounted rate. I attempted to contact their US office and left a voice mail but I was never contacted. I have taken additional steps that I will not mention now but I am using social media as a way of contacting the CEO in regards to this.
Has this ever happened to you? If you were managing and growing an online community that you charged for would you assess penalty fees for unforseen events that were beyond the control of anyone?