Thousands wait for refunds months after North Texas company cancels Christian women's tour
Thousands of women continue to wait for refunds from a canceled Christian women's tour, seven months after the Plano-based operation offered refunds.
It was high energy, big-hearted, faith-filled experience called The Belong Tour. A two-day event with Christian speakers and singers, the tour's YouTube page said it reached 100,000 women nationwide.
"It was incredible," said Leslie Carlton of Frisco. She and her girlfriends from church attended Belong's 2016 tour stop in Dallas at the American Airlines Center and planned to go again last year.
"We were totally excited," she said.
That excitement was stopped cold by a Facebook post last July. A headliner wrote the tour was canceled by its new owners, one month before it started.
"That was shocking to me," said Carlton.
Those new owners are Alita and GJ Reynolds. Both of them identify as Christians. He's an author and entrepreneur and ran the tour through Inspire Live, a media company out of Plano. They sent an email offering refunds, and Carlton filled out a form on the Belong Tour's site to recoup her $490.
"I was just disappointed, so I thought I just want my money back, and I wanted my friends' money back because I bought for the whole group," said Carlton.
That was in September. And she forgot about it…for a while.
"Probably [until] mid-November. I was just really thinking 'Did I miss it?' I started going through my bank statements to see," Carlton said.
But no, she didn't. She saw nothing, and heard nothing for more than four months. What she did find is she's one of many. The Facebook group 'Belong Tour cancellation – Waiting on our Refund' has more than 200 members.
The 2017 Belong tour was scheduled in 12 cities across the country, from San Jose to Dallas to Hartford. That makes for a community coast to coast of faithful women out, in some cases, thousands of dollars. We spoke with Shelli Schraeder from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
"We are out about $3,000. We had a full bus-load of women ready to go," Schraeder said.
"We were planning to attend the belong tour in Rochester," said Jessica Brajcki, who lives in New York state. "[We] purchased 30 tickets that cost $2,070."
With no update, the un-refunded flooded the Reynolds' with emails, tweets and posts. We looked for answers at Inspire Live's Plano address, but the company is no longer there. We learned GJ is named in a 2017 Federal lawsuit against ViSalus, a company promoting weight loss shakes. It calls the business 'a pyramid scheme', claiming he made 'over $2 million recruiting people' into it. GJ and the other defendants deny any wrongdoing. There's also a Federal Tax lien against the couple's Nebraska home. County records show four years of more than a quarter-million dollars in unpaid taxes.
Then, suddenly, in the second week of January, a video appeared on BelongTour.com. In it, the couple says sorry, but asks that people keep waiting.
"We're unable to say when this will be completed by,"' said GJ in the video. "We will continue to ask for your Christ-like patience and understanding."
Ticketholders don't have much Christlike patience left.
"I feel like people have been patient, very patient," said Carlton. "There was a lot of money put in already, where did it go? What happened to it?"
WFAA asked GJ in a follow-up email. He blamed lack of cash flow from low ticket sales. He said more than half of tour-goers have been reimbursed, with 'a couple thousand' still waiting.
"People are feeling upset and patronized and offended and it involves God," said Carlton. "It's so messy."
Seven months later, some of those thousands are getting refunds from their credit card companies.
But it's beyond the money now for Carlton. The Belong Tour was about living your life honestly. She thinks the Christians that promised to spread that very message should live that way too.