by Curlan Campbell
- X’Nova organisers have not publicly explained reasons for delay in delivery
- RGPF indicated an investigation into reports of possible fraud
Camile Thomas and Janeen Ettienne travelled from the United States to visit Grenada with the high expectation of having an unforgettable Spicemas experience with their fancy mas’ band of choice X’Nova.
Attractive indeed was just some of the reactions to the display of carnival costumes from X’Nova, which launched on 29 March 2019. Captivated by their slogan promising to provide “an unmatched experience of intense happiness and renewed excitement” and their appealing and professional social media presence, both ladies were assured that their US$600 spent on their costumes was worth every penny.
However, their enjoyable vacation on the spice isle was short-lived.
Thomas is originally from New York but has Caribbean roots. She was visiting Grenada for the first time with great anticipation of playing Jab Jab and of course parading through the streets on Carnival Monday in the Purpleheart section of X’Nova.
“There was a range of different bands that we could have played with, but we looked at the costumes and X’Nova had costumes that we were interested in. And from the United States, we started putting downpayments on the costumes and it was me and 3 other masqueraders who were here. One of which has not played mas’ before and has not been to the islands because she was actually from Ghana,” said Thomas.
Upon arrival in Grenada, it was clear that something was not right with X’Nova. An email informed that the distribution of costumes would take place 8-10 August, and an Instagram post stated the distribution time from 7 am to 11 am. The ladies were appalled upon arrival at the distribution point that they were among countless masqueraders at the Bruce Street outlet in St George’s staring at a locked gate, with no costumes in sight, nor a sign posted to inform why they were unable to get their costumes.
“We showed up on 10 August to collect our costumes. We showed up around midnight and when we reached the mas’ camp there were people already waiting from since approximately 7 am and when we got there the door was closed. We returned about 5 hours later and these people were still waiting there and the door was still closed with no information given… and they have not answered as to when the distribution would be because the mall will be closed the next day,” she said.
Their experience was felt by other masqueraders left in the same predicament. To date, the X’Nova organisers have not issued a public statement explaining the reasons for the delay in delivery. Using the phone number listed on their Facebook page to contact Kalifa Purcell, mas’ band leader of X’Nova or anyone connected to provide answers, proved fruitless.
An Instagram post from the band on 11 August stated in part, “X’Nova is true to doing quality work and making sure that our masqueraders have the most memorable road experience. We have worked around the clock to ensure this, but due to extreme delays with shipping and customs, have fallen short. For this, we apologise.”
The statement also apologised for lack of communications and requested that customers exercise patience and asked those masqueraders who were yet to receive their costumes to stay tuned for scheduled pickup.
Although Thomas enjoyed the rest of her vacation outside of the carnival, she made it clear that her first experience of Spicemas was dreadful having been forced to visit the beach instead while revellers playing with other mas’ bands were parading the streets on Monday evening. “We ended up still playing Jab Jab and Monday Night Mas’ but ultimately there is a portion of our trip that we never got to experience. Especially for my friend from Ghana who never played mas’ before and never been to the Caribbean before now, that carnival experience has been lost now in that respect, and on top of that money not refunded.”
Ettienne, who resides in New York, was eager to return to Grenada for the second time to experience Spicemas, but she too was unable to receive her costume. “The distribution area looked barren and empty. It didn’t look like they received all of their costumes, so it was very frustrating,” she said.
She reached out to someone from the band who, before their arrival was very engaging via WhatsApp, but further answers proved futile. “I attempted to contact that person just to see if they can give me an answer because they were responsive before my arrival here in Grenada. Unfortunately, I received no response from that person to date.”
Reports circulating after the incident made headlines, stated that X’Nova mas’ band was unable to clear their costumes from the customs department. Since then, there has been no official response from the team associated with X’Nova except for another Instagram post apologising for less than satisfactory customer service and promising to address any concerns and requests for refunds from unsatisfied customers.
The Community Relations Department (CRD) of the police indicated there is an investigation into reports of possible fraud in the matter.
NOW Grenada understands that a similar situation to a lesser extent was experienced by some masqueraders of another more seasoned carnival band, Lavish. The band issued a post on their Facebook page which read in part, “We are aware that we were unable to meet delivery deadlines on some of our costume sections and as a result, a small number of [people] were not able to fully enjoy their carnival experience. We have indeed learned that despite the best of plans there are always unseen delays that can impact the process. We will ensure that our future projects will be better prepared to handle these types of occurrences.”
Ettienne said she is yet to receive her refund, while Thomas stated that she was able to receive a temporary refund from her bank until the problem gets resolved. Both ladies believed the process to recoup their refund will be easier since they paid with their credit card, unlike those who paid cash. They also stated that they will be returning to Grenada for Spicemas but promise never to sign up to play with the carnival band X’Nova.