Victims of balloon company have hopes further deflated

Unsuccessful auction by trustee lets air out of refund chances
Victims of balloon company have hopes further deflated

The trustee handling the liquidation of assets for the Great American Balloon Company does not believe there will be any money going back to several hundred ticket-holders in Wisconsin, Illinois and Florida.

Alex Moglia told News 3 that the sale of the company’s six hot-air balloons and related equipment netted $30,000 in an auction earlier this month, far less than the $350,000 worth of unused tickets sold by the company in the last three years.

“We are still paying expenses such as trustee fees and out-of-pocket expenses, trailer repair fees, storage fees, license plate renewal fees, etc.,” Moglia wrote in an email. “There was very limited interest nationally for the assets despite our extensive marketing to the balloon operator industry and other sections. There will be little or no funds (for distribution).”

Tickets for the hot air balloon routinely sold for $175-$225. Some consumers say they paid upwards of $1,000 for multiple tickets through the company more than two years ago and never had the chance to redeem their purchase. Since News 3 first reported the company’s demise in July, numerous people around southern Wisconsin have contacted us about holding tickets and having flights cancelled as many as 20 times.

One of those people is Jacob Cleventine of Evansville. He spent $350 on two tickets in the fall of 2010, hoping to give the trip to his wife, Emily, as a combined birthday and Christmas present that year. Instead, after 20 times of trying to board the balloon, they are frustrated.

“We have two small children and we don’t have family who live nearby so we had always had to schedule somebody to watch the kids while we chased the balloon,” Emily said. “So we coordinated a lot of schedules and it’s annoying not to have ever been able to go.”

The Great American Balloon Company served as the parent company for Sunbird Balloons, LLC, Token Creek Hot Air Balloon Company, LLC, Windy City Balloon Port, LLC, Sky Rides, LLC and Cloud 9 Balloon Port, LLC.