"Most Frustrating Scenario Of The Entire Wedding Process'

CBS 2's Jim Williams reports more people are coming forward who are fighting to get a refund after a Chicago area hotel didn't repay people who planned weddings there.

Video Transcript

- Only on 2. Last month, we helped a couple get their money back from a wedding that never happened. The venue suddenly closed. Now we're hearing from more people who are fighting to get a refund as well. CBS 2's Jim Williams is live. And Jim, one viewer tells us no one is calling her back.

JIM WILLIAMS: Yeah. This, at a hotel in a state park, hotel is closing today. An hour north of Chicago, the Illinois Beach Hotel is an alluring location for a wedding. Allison and EJ Bertke plan to say their "I do's" there before 200 guests.

EJ BERTKE: We wanted to choose a resort-type location that could not only accommodate the size of the party we had. And we enjoyed the scenery there, right by Lake Michigan and the beach.

JIM WILLIAMS: The couple chose a date with some symmetry-- October 10, 2020. 10-10-20. But the pandemic made that an impossibility.

EJ BERTKE: They could not host our wedding. People couldn't have parties of more than 40 or 50 people.

JIM WILLIAMS: Allison and EJ thought they would get back their $1,500 deposit, but there's been no refund. The hotel tells us the deposit covers credit card fees, planning services, and a meal tasting, even though there was no wedding.

ALLISON BERTKE: This has been the most frustrating scenario of the entire wedding process, of the entire pandemic process for me, because we've done everything we were supposed to do contractually. And $1,500 is a lot of money.

JIM WILLIAMS: Allison and EJ reached out to us after seeing our story on Patricia Gonzalez and Brian Dowling, another couple unable to get a refund for their wedding at the Illinois Beach Hotel, also canceled because of the pandemic.

PATRICIA GONZALEZ: We want to get married. Regardless, we're still going to do it. I just-- We just want our money back.

JIM WILLIAMS: After our story aired, the hotel promised Patricia and Brian they would get a refund. The hotel will not be doing business with anyone anytime soon. It sits in a state park. A private firm, Midwest Property Management, has had a state contract to operate the hotel. That contract expires today, so the hotel is shut down.

For a week, Sharon Eckart is trying to get a $150 refund for a gift card, but has been unable to get anyone on the phone. And now she wonders what's going to happen.

SHARON ECKART: I mean, at give me the courtesy of a call back and say, "Yes, we can help you," or, "No, we can't."

JIM WILLIAMS: Frustration for these clients. EJ and Allison ended up having their wedding in a backyard.

ALLISON BERTKE: I just can't believe that in light of what's happened in the world that they are not agreeing to refund our money.

JIM WILLIAMS: A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which runs the state park, says they're reviewing proposals from other private firms before choosing one to run the hotel. We're live, Jim Williams, "CBS 2 News." Brad.