A small business owner in Australia has accused influencer Jadé Tuncdoruk of sending a series of “threatening and demanding” emails to intimidate staff into giving her a refund of A$2,000 for her honeymoon.
The social media star told followers she had booked accommodation at £730-a-night luxury rental Meerea Park Country Estate, in Australia’s Hunter Valley, for March 2022, but chose to cancel due to Covid-related delays to her wedding plans.
Rentals business Weekenda claims that Tuncdoruk - who posts on Instagram as @jadetunchy and has 484,000 followers - wrote intimidating emails and posted on social media in her quest for a refund on her deposit, despite the company’s refund policy being clear.
In emails leaked to the Daily Mail, the 26-year-old influencer chases up the deposit politely at first, writing: “We’ve had to cancel [our wedding] due to lockdowns in Sydney.
“I’m just concerned that the cancellation policy doesn’t come with a full refund. We are quite a few months out still and I was wondering if you can make an exception for this since we are cancelling our wedding due to Covid.”
This seems to acknowledge that she has read the terms and conditions stating that her deposit won’t be refunded.
However, Ms Tuncdoruk’s emails to Weekenda’s staff gradually become more emphatic: “There’s really no reason that this cancellation shouldn’t be processed. At this point you’re just keeping our money for the sake of it,” reads one.
“We ask that you please see the completely valid reason for this cancellation - amidst a global pandemic - and cancel the reservation or we will need to take it up with Fair Trading.”
Weekenda’s CEO and founder Pete Smith replied to her personally, explaining that she had booked his rental via Airbnb, which will refund 50 per cent of your deposit up to 14 days before your stay, but nothing within the 14 days until your stay (as was the case with her cancellation).
The emails show that Smith offered the couple a deposit refund in the event that the property was re-booked for their dates by a new party.
However, Tuncdoruk did not take the offer, instead calling the company’s policy “practically theft” and posting about the matter on her Instagram.
“It’s just not acceptable business practice amidst the current global climate. It’s really poor form, it’s practically theft. I’ll be opening a case with Fair Trading,” she wrote to Smith.
In a now-deleted Instagram post, Tuncdoruk told followers that Weekenda was “taking advantage of people in the middle of the pandemic”.
“They’ve had months to refund us for a booking we don’t need,” she wrote on Instagram. “They’re taking our money just because they can.”
Shortly after, she shared a follow up post saying: “They’ve agreed to refund us for our stay! Thank you guys for your help.”
Sharing the emails with reporters, Mr Smith said the influencer was “definitely a handful” to deal with, saying: “My staff advise that Jade was very demanding and threatening. Her emails support this.”
Mid-tier influencers with followers in the hundreds of thousands often make between £500 and £5,000 per social media post.
According to Australian business records, Weekenda employs just six people onsite.
In their own social media post, the company addressed the influencer storm, saying they “have really struggled through 2021, and not paid ourselves at all between 1 July and 1 December”.
They are now offering a “She Can’t Stay Giveaway” at the same property to one follower and seven of their friends, writing: “Well Jade couldn’t make it, so we’d love you and your friends to come and stay instead.”
Tuncdoruk has since made her Instagram private.