Dolton mom-to-be struggles to get refund from baby shower venue

DOLTON, Ill. (WLS) -- A south suburban Dolton woman said her baby shower was canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis, but the venue was initially refusing to give her a refund.

Sierra Jones says she paid $1,600 and can't afford to lose that money. The baby shower was scheduled for this month at a venue in Country Club Hills.

Jones said she thought the venue would be reasonable and give her at least some money back, but she said at first the venue just wouldn't budge.

Jones was elated when she found out she'd be having a little baby boy.

"I'm 28 now and my mom has been wanting a grand baby, so I'm super excited," Jones said.

Her mom, Stacey Hawkins, was excited to plan the baby shower. The theme: the royal jungle.

"Listen, I bought so much stuff," Hawkins said. "I learned how to make balloon garlands. I've been glittering picture frames. We did so much stuff for this baby shower."

But the realities of the COVID-19 crisis would end their baby shower plans and with the baby due in May, they felt it was simply wasn't possible.

Jones and her mother said the venue, The Atrium in Country Club Hills, offered to give them a credit for another date, but said a refund would not be an option.

The ladies were furious, especially since their contract states, "If the event is cancelled by the Atrium for reasons outside of our control, you will be given the choice of a full credit or full refund."

When they brought it to the owner's attention, they said they were told that line in the contract is in place, "for things like a pipe burst."

They said they even offered to let the owners keep the deposit and they'd keep the rest, but they were told no.

"I'm laid-off work. I'm not making any money right now," Jones said.

"I know everyone's going through a rough time, but we spent so much money and for her not to work for us that hurt. It hurt," Hawkins said.

ABC7 reached out to the Atrium and the owner said in part, "There are several people who have showers after the baby is born. It's called a Sip N' See. ...Our decision is very consistent across many industries like travel, hospitality, airlines and other venues. The Atrium can not absorb all of the losses that our clients experience from COVID-19."

But Jones and her mother said rescheduling a baby shower and having a sip n see is not an option during the COVID-19-19 crisis.

"Coronavirus might not be over by then and even if it is, you don't know how many people are still sick, here's a new baby, it's just too much for me," Jones said.

"Just work with us," Hawkins said. "Make us whole. She's not working. We're all just trying to get by."

After the I-Team got involved, the mother-to-be says she received an email from the owner who agreed to give her most of her money back, but the woman and her mom said they will be disputing the full charge instead and hope the bank rules in their favor.
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