The trustee in charge of liquidating the assets from the Great American Balloon Company hopes to sell six of the now-defunct company's balloons to raise money to pay back "several hundred consumers," primarily from Wisconsin, Illinois and Florida.
The hot-air balloon company folded last month, leaving numerous clients out hundreds of dollars and without a chance to redeem their tickets.
"The company didn't have money to pay pilots to fly, so if they flew, they did so on a very limited basis," said Alex Moglia, who runs Moglia Advisors, the Illinois-based company hired to conduct what's called an assignment for the benefit of the creditors. "This year, the company's owner told us demand for tickets had decreased severely from the last few years, and based on our knowledge of the economy, it makes sense."
Moglia said his office in Schaumburg, a suburb of Chicago, has been flooded with calls from consumers since the Great American Balloon Company folded. In the next couple weeks, he plans to send out a notice by email or via mail to consumers listed in the company's business records and those who contacted his office.
"We're dealing with incomplete records from the company," Moglia said, encouraging consumers holding a ticket to email his office with the name of the person who bought the ticket, their mailing address and phone number.
"At this time, I don't need to hear about how many times you tried to redeem your ticket or how much money you're owed. That will come when you send in the claim form. For now, I need to know who the creditors are."
Moglia said his firm will send out a "teaser" to people throughout the hot-air balloon industry and investors nationwide alerting them to the upcoming auction of the six balloons. In addition to the balloons and the equipment needed to fly them, Moglia said he will also be selling the name, "A Great American Balloon Company," because "intellectual property rights can sometimes bring in revenue." That auction, he said, should take place within two months.
After the sale, the money will be divided among creditors in equal percentages. Moglia also suggested consumers try contacting their credit card company or the ticket broker where they bought the company to try to get a refund from them first.
Since News 3 first reported the company closing, numerous people around southern Wisconsin have contacted us about holding tickets and having flights cancelled as many as 20 times. 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.