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Helsinki Beer Festival: A shameful scam
by Asa Butcher
2009-05-18 09:59:25
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The Helsinki Beer Festival is a popular annual event that has grown in reputation over the past few years and it was with some anticipation that I looked forward to attending it this year. It had been over six years since I first attended, so I was interested in seeing first-hand how the festival had changed and why it had become so popular; I even organised a group of friends to attend with me. However, the Saturday night out didn't go quite as planned with all of our group feeling cheated, disappointed and angry. It isn't often that I complain, but on this occasion my conscience cannot let the event remain an anecdote among friends, but should be shared with whomever wants to read it.

Our group of five were happy to pay the slightly extortionate 12 euro entrance fee and were eager to take a sip of the first beer, but we never got the chance. As the first of our group tried to enter the main hall of the Cable Factory one of the two security staff stopped him and asked him for his ticket. He showed them the ticket stub we had just received, but was told that was not the right one. Confused, my friend asked what other ticket could there be to which he was told that he needed to get a coat check ticket by paying a further 2,50 euros.

“But I don't have a coat!” my friend exclaimed. The man informed him that it didn't matter whether he had a coat or not, he still needed to buy a ticket from the coat check desk. “Why do we need to pay again after paying an entrance fee?” my friend asked, to which the security man answered, “To pay our wages!” None of us could believe what he was saying, “But that's a scam!” my friend exclaimed, “There's no sign posted saying that we must buy a further ticket on top of the entrance fee; that's got to be illegal!”

What happened next still defies belief... the shorter security man actually went to physically attack my friend, yes, he physically went for him! The other security man held him back and we immediately asked to see their boss. He took the five of us back to the main entrance where we told him of our disappointment, disgust and shock of this situation, and, to his credit, was very friendly, calm and receptive to our complaints. After he had agreed to refund our entrance fee we asked for the name of his security company so we could make an official complaint about the unprofessional conduct of a member of his staff; he refused to tell us!

We left feeling ripped off, disappointed and disgusted by the events and are still unable to comprehend the whole scene. Why wasn't the “coat” charge included in the entrance fee? You don't buy a cinema ticket only to have an usher charger you to take you to your seat! And why hire security staff that are obviously psyched up and looking for confrontation, instead of acting in the calm manner of the boss? I am angry at them for spoiling an evening that I had been anticipating and deeply shocked by the actions of the security team. I certainly will not be considering attending the Helsinki Beer Festival again until there are reassurances that none of these easy-to-fix issues have been resolved.

I expected a hangover on Sunday morning, but I didn't expect to have such a bitter taste in my mouth.

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Phil2009-05-18 13:18:34
People should really begin boycotting this nonsense. I'd love to see a list of establishments that do this, so we know where to avoid.

Thanos2009-05-18 14:20:19
Is amazing that mafia attitude and bulling is called entertainment and security!!!

Tony2009-05-18 14:25:28
This pint-sized character clearly Foster's a Bitterness about his Ale-ment. The Schooner he calms his high-Spirits and doesn't lose his Head in such situation the better.
This isn't Wine-ing per se, because when you've got a Shot at a Stellar night out with Buds, the last thing you want is it all to go Flat.

Richard2009-05-18 17:13:30
The best thing about it, I was told by a friend that the beer costs 6€-8€ a pint, A a part that Asa missed was, it was all cash only, so if you wanted to get cash you had to go to the info point with your bank card and they whould give you cash for a 1€ charge. I am pleased we had a good night in town and was able to use the money saved by not going into the beer fest to buy 4 more beers in a pub :-)

AP2009-05-18 20:02:31
big adventures...

Päivi2009-05-19 10:10:35
I don't get it. You have to buy such an expensive ticket to drink beer. Just go to a pub, entrance is free! Yeah yeah they may have some fancy new beers to taste (sorry, to buy for a very high price) but still! A big boycott is in order. You did right boys!

Clint2009-05-19 10:56:42
Love the cinema usher comparision.

PeterF2009-05-19 14:48:15
This is the first time since I have known him that I have agreed with every single word that Phil has written.

Do they need some licence/permit to play private police man and collect "protection money" to watch over your (non existant)coat?
If one of them threw a punch and the target was able to look after himself and responded with a boot in the groin what would the real police say/do?

PeterF2009-05-19 17:26:18
This is the first time since I have known him that I have agreed with every single word that Phil has written.

Do they need some licence/permit to play private police man and collect "protection money" to watch over your (non existant)coat?
If one of them threw a punch and the target was able to look after himself and responded with a boot in the groin what would the real police say/do?

Matthew2009-05-20 07:38:13
Think of the good side, we had extra money to do our one beer festival :D

Martin Glantz2009-05-20 14:00:00
Dear all!
The Helsinki Beer Festival has outsourced its security services, as have almost all events and restaurants in Helsinki and in the whole country. A customary policy is, that the service provider gets the revenue at the door. A common misunderstanding is, that the additional fee is a coat fee. It is not. It is a fee that covers a wide array of security and also some paramedic services and at many events and restaurants and clubs with an alcohol license and performing artists, the fee is compulsory and NOT included in the ticket price.
On behalf of the Beer Festival we apologize for the unpleasant situation that occurred and the doorpersons inability to explain himself properly. After this incident we posted signs explaining the procedure and will seek ways to clarify the process already next year.
The problem is one one hand, that there are two different companies providing two different things and even the VAT:s of the ticket and the additional fee are different. On the other hand the law and the officials place a heavy PERSONAL responsibility on the event organizers and licensees in security matters, so we have to rely on professionals, as we do with the program and PA.
And Phil, You would have to boycott Tavastia, Nosturi, Vanha Ylioppilastalo, mostof the SK-restaurants among others.
Having said this, the unprofessional conduct of the doorperson will be reviewed with the service provider and of course it is our concern, that our patrons do not ever have to encounter such situations.

To Richard I must say, that a normal pint of normal lager is normally priced at the festival, but special beers imported in small quantities have a special price - also at Your favorite pub.

I am happy to answer in detail, if You have any additional questions or concerns. I also gladly welcome any constructive input to make our festival better.

Martin Glantz, co-producer, logistics and security services
personal e-mail: glantz_martin@hotmail.com

Asa2009-05-21 10:24:49
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer publicly.

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