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CHICAGO (CBS) — We’ve heard a lot about cancelation policies and confusion related to COVID. Now we have a new one — a seller cancelling, bailing, and then refusing to provide a refund. That’s what happened to a suburban couple planning a big birthday bash.

Alessandra Gallo had big plans for her husband Michael’s 40th birthday to bring back memories of the good old days.

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“We grew up on the North Side of Chicago, so Harlem Avenue was a big thing back in the day, and that’s where he did a lot of his hanging out,” Alessandra said. “It just was loud and that’s exactly what his personality is.”

To bring her vision to life, Gallo hired CBA Balloons on Instagram to make her a flashy balloon arch, after seeing the beautiful displays the company created for birthdays, weddings, and graduations.

“Her page was pretty legit, and had a good amount of followers,” Alessandra said.

CBS Ballon’s Instagram account has 300 posts, almost two thousand followers, and a promise to transform “your space into a world of imagination.”

But an imaginary world is just what Alessandra got for the $250 bucks sent the company via Zelle.

“It’s frustrating,” she said.

Let’s backtrack. Three days before the big event, Michelle, the owner of CBA Balloons, sent a text titled “Emergency Attention.” It said her entire team had been infected with COVID, and they couldn’t service ANY events that weekend.

The message also said customers could get a credit towards a future event, but no cash refunds.

“It’s not right,” Michael said.

The booking form Alessandra filled out on Instagram said, “In case of cancelations or and or unforeseen issues we offer a reschedule/full credit/no cash refunds.”

“I think that could really be a huge misunderstanding,” Alessandra said.

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Alessandra never thought she’d be out $250 dollars if the SELLER canceled, and when she tried to text CBA Balloons about the policy, she said, “my number was blocked.”

“So I tried calling. I went straight to voicemail,” she added.

On top of all this, CBA Balloons is also connected to the company FHG Floral Event and Design. That company has an F rating and a slew of similar complaints on its Better Business Bureau profile.

And another red flag, one of Alessandra’s co-workers texted CBA Balloons as a test to see what would happen if she ordered a balloon arrangement the same day Alessandra’s arch was canceled.

“She texted back within minutes, saying ‘Yeah, no problem we can take your event,’” Alessandra said.

Again, this was the same weekend CBA Balloons canceled on Alessandra and said it couldn’t service any events.

“Be cautious,” Alessandra said.

Luckily, Michael’s 40th was still a success, thanks to some last-minute decorations.

“Party City came in real clutch at the end of the day,” Alessandra said.

But if you’re considering buying one of CBA’s Valentine’s Day packages, make sure you consider both your heart and your wallet.

The owner insisted her policy is no refunds, even if she’s the one who cancels.

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The Gallos maintain they never imagined that included if the balloon company canceled there would be credit but no cash back, even though the booking form they signed said exactly that.

Source: CBS Chicago

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