Ryan Buell spent his most famous days as a young man chasing ghostly images and disappearing and reappearing demons. Now his fans say they are chasing down money spent on Buell’s paranormal events that never happened.
Ryan Buell starred as a paranormal researcher on the A&E reality show “Paranormal State” from 2007 until 2011. Most recently, he was supposed to appear in parts of Canada for a June tour called “Paranormal: The Experience.” Another scheduled U.S. tour “Conversations with the Dead” was also canceled. Now some fans are angry because they say they never received refunds for what could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in ticket sales.
Psychic medium Chip Coffey announced on his Facebook page that he would not participate in the scheduled U.S. tour involving Buell and said publicly that he had received no advance money for the event. Another psychic scheduled to replace Coffey also posted on Facebook that she was not planning to join the tour citing lack of commitment from the tour itself. Michelle Belanger says in her post that it is time for Paranormal Research Society to admit that their lives are too chaotic to responsibly make commitments, especially involving other peoples’ money.
A private Facebook group has emerged offering support to those who paid money for tours, classes, or DVDs created by Buell, but who did not receive services or goods in exchange for their money.
Even Buell’s own Facebook page has a long list of comments complaining about unfulfilled promises of refunds from the Paranormal Research Society. That’s the organization Buell started before he became a television reality star. In 2012 Buell announced that he had pancreatic cancer. One year later he told People Magazine he was close to remission.
Yet, he continued to offer paranormal tours and collect advance money for the events. He has also offered online paranormal courses for which people paid, but the classes were not completed, according to several dozen people.
Crystal Blackburn says she paid $100 for an online paranormal class, in April of 2013.
“I am still waiting, I have had my comments deleted when I asked why or defended others for asking why. I have seen comments erased on the PRS University whiteboard, where I paid $100 to have access. I have seen a few folks who also paid for the class be denied access to the whiteboard and class with no refund given. I have seen Mr. Buell come onto the white board and erase all questions, and complaint posts, asking why it has taken so long to complete this class,” she said.
Teresa Harrell says she paid more than $400.00 for two gold VIP tickets to the Chicago event to see Ryan Buell in his “Conversations with the Dead” tour.
“After two reschedules of the event with little notice and replacement of one of the headliners, I’m still waiting on a refund. I bought my tickets on pre-sale back the end of January. For my husband and me it was going to be a night of entertainment, such as going to a music concert or a murder mystery weekend somewhere. We paid for an event and did not receive it, plain and simple. It shouldn’t matter whether we believe or don’t believe or whether we are Christian or not. It was a business transaction that was not fulfilled on PRS or Ryan Buell’s side,” she told me.
Marie Doherty also says Buell didn’t make good on his promises.
“A friend and I booked tickets for the Boston show ($100 each) for May. About four days before the show, I asked my friend if she received a confirmation email. She had used her credit card for the purchase. Other than the initial payment confirmation she heard nothing. I contacted the venue (a local Boston college) and they said there was no show there, it had been postponed. We finally received an email stating a later date after I sent a complaint email about never being informed of the cancellation. That new date was cancelled also and we were told they are coming to Boston in July. We requested a refund and have heard nothing since,” she said.
Dozens of people in the support group for PRS customers posted about not receiving online classes that they had paid for. Others talked about not receiving refunds for canceled tickets. One online student estimated there were more than 250 people in an online class with fees that would have totaled $40,000 dollars. Some estimates for what’s been charged and collected by PRS for unfulfilled tours in the U.S. and Canada are in the high six figures. Buell has made several claims on his Facebook page and via email to those who purchased tickets and bought classes, saying at different times that PayPal froze their funds and another time that he was very ill.
A person named Sergey Poberezhny has posted on Buell’s site. He appeared on “Paranormal State”. He now appears to be assisting Buell in defending himself. He posted on Buell’s page apologizing, “Refunds are being given out, but it is unfortunately a very slow process. One of the things we know we have faltered on is communication and customer service,” he wrote.
The post has six hundred eighty responses, most of the them negative.
Attempts to reach Buell and Paranormal Research Society were unsuccessful.
Buell announced a new revised U.S. tour for mid-summer called “Conversations with the Dead: The National Tour,” but the page says ticket sales have been stopped.
Paranormal Research Society operators announced they were moving from State College, Pennsylvania to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2012. The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office has received three complaints about the company in the past two years. The Better Business Bureau of Pittsburgh has 10 complaints listed. The BBB page says they were not able to locate the business to resolve the complaints.
Those I spoke with say the most frustrating thing is their inability to get refunds or outside agencies to help. The fact is that many dissatisfied customers span across the United States and Canada without a central agency to file their complaints.
“I’ve called the Attorney General in Raleigh and a lot of other government agencies. So far, no one has helped me with this,” Crystal Blackburn told me.
“It is very frustrating that you purchase something in good faith and you are continuously fed excuse after excuse on why you can’t have what you paid for. You’re bullied to keep quiet, threatened with being kicked out if you keep complaining to the people doing the damage. There really is no where to go to report the fraud,” she said.
In May 2013, Buell made a special announcement via his Youtube Channel inviting fans to make donations to be part of a special PRS project. He said fans would receive special access to demon hunting and might be asked to pay an additional registration fee to make sure they were serious.
When I called the online company Ticketleap that was used by Buell to collect ticket fees for the Canada Tour, the representative told me that the company couldn’t reach the organizers and that they were, “shady”. She said that customers would have to contact their own credit card companies to do a charge back.
A Media Representative for the Attorney General in Raleigh, North Carolina says consumers are welcome to file complaints on their website.
Meanwhile, yet another Buell event is apparently at risk of not happening, according to some who have not received any email confirmations. This one, was billed as a spiritual retreat in Montreat, North Carolina. Advance ticket sales were $600 for a three day event in early August. No word yet if those customers will get their money back.
Interesting that Buell claims to see the unseen, but he doesn’t seem wiling to respond to the problems appearing right in front of his face.
In his book Paranormal State: My Journey into the Unknown Buell says, “If someone says there’s a portal to hell under some rocks, you bet your ass I’m going to move them.” Maybe Buell should do some digging in his own backyard. He doesn’t have to look far to find a lot of former fans who are unhappy with his work right now.