Hillsborough Co. mom waiting months to get refund after venue cancels daughter’s birthday party

8 On Your Side

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Hillsborough County mother was planning a special birthday party for her daughter. But after she shelled out thousands of dollars, Vanelice Cruz Martinez said Crystal Ballroom Brandon canceled on her.

Now months later, Martinez is still waiting for a refund.

The new owner of Crystal Ballroom Brandon declined to go on camera; however, she conceded the facility does owe Martinez money.

“It’s the only girl that I have, so I have to make a big party for her,” Martinez said. “Very exciting moment for all my family.”

Family members from Puerto Rico were planning on attending the 15th birthday party.

Martinez told 8 On Your Side she paid $3,364 to have the party on Sept. 21 in Brandon. But as the date approached, she got a call from staff members at the venue.

“We need to change the date,” Martinez said.

“Why?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“She said because the place not ready,” Martinez said.

Martinez said she was told the facility was still under construction. A representative promised a refund.

“How long have you been waiting to get your money back?” Saeidi asked.

“Three and a half months,” Martinez said.

The mother also shared emails from a woman who stated she was the new owner of Crystal Ballroom Brandon. The woman said her name was Geidy.

In the email, Geidy apologized by writing, “The personal loan that I am trying to take out to be able to issue refunds faster is taking longer than expected.”

Geidy continued, “If anything changes and I can generate more money faster or get approved for the loan, payments WILL be made faster. I want to assure you that I continue to do everything in my power to expedite the process and pay you, as well as everyone else as speedy as possible.”

8 On Your Side Investigates stopped by the business located at 779 W Lumsden Road. Geidy was not present but we saw a representative talking with two customers.

The owner would not answer most of our questions on the phone. However, Geidy stated she would pay back Martinez in the next year.

“My feeling is very bad,” said Martinez. “I don’t want that to happen to nobody.”

Now, owners of different Crystal Ballroom Tampa Bay area locations told 8 On Your Side, they have nothing to do with the Brandon location.

We went to the main website for Crystal Ballroom to find a corporate contact. 8 On Your Side called, texted and emailed, however, no one got back to us as of Monday evening.

We will not stop until Martinez gets all of her money back.

It’s unclear whether other customers are waiting for refunds.

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