Attorney General’s Office received 583 complaints, company owes more than $6.75 million across the nation
SEATTLE — After receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers and event organizers across the country, Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed a lawsuit against Brown Paper Tickets. Ferguson asserts the Seattle-based company, which provides ticket management and support for event organizers, failed to pay organizers for events that occurred before COVID-19 shutdowns and has not refunded consumers for tickets they purchased for entertainment and other events cancelled due to the pandemic.
The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, asserts the company engaged in unfair and deceptive acts that violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act. Ferguson asserts that Brown Paper Tickets owes event organizers approximately $6 million and ticket buyers $760,000 nationwide.
“Small organizations and individuals are hurting right now,” Ferguson said. “As the people’s lawyer, my job is to put money back into the pockets of Washingtonians harmed by entities who don’t play by the rules and honor their commitments.”
Through its informal complaint resolution process, the Attorney General’s Office has helped some organizers and ticket buyers recover funds from Brown Paper Tickets, but the overwhelming majority have not received the money they are owed.
The Attorney General’s Office received 583 complaints from consumers about the company’s conduct and around 80,000 people have been affected nationwide. The lawsuit provides several examples of consumer complaints:
- A youth arts organization in Bellingham staged two performances in February and March and earned in excess of $3,000 in ticket sales. Despite having collected payments from ticket buyers, Brown Paper Tickets has failed to pay the organization.
- A café and community event space in Renton held three remote “dinner and a show” fundraiser events in May and June. Brown Paper Tickets has failed to pay approximately $2,000 it owes the café.
- A community events organizer used Brown Paper Tickets to collect camping fees for an outdoor festival it planned in late March. Brown Paper Tickets collected nearly $7,000 from 93 ticket buyers but has failed to provide refunds to ticket buyers after the event was cancelled.
- A resident of Seattle paid Brown Paper Tickets approximately $300 for a child to attend a summer camp. When the camp organizer cancelled the camp due to COVID-19, the parent could not obtain a refund despite repeated requests to Brown Paper Tickets.
Brown Paper Tickets started its business in 2000. It offers low-cost ticketing services to event organizers and acts as an intermediary between event organizers and ticket buyers. It asks for five percent of the ticket price and a 99 cent fee on ticket buyers for its services.
Ferguson has asked the court for $2,000 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act, restitution for ticket buyers and event organizers and an order stopping the company from further violating the law.
Assistant Attorneys General Craig Rader, Logan Starr and Marc Worthy are handling the case for the Consumer Protection Division.
Ferguson’s Consumer Protection Unit
The division enforces the Consumer Protection Act and other statutes to help keep the Washington marketplace free of unfair and deceptive practices. The division investigates and files legal actions to stop unfair and deceptive practices, recovers refunds for consumers, seeks penalties against offending entities and recovers costs and fees to ensure that wrongdoers pay for their actions. The division represents the state and the public as a whole, as opposed to individuals, when it brings actions under the Consumer Protection Act.
The division’s Consumer Resource Center provides an informal complaint resolution service. The informal complaint resolution process includes notifying businesses of written complaints and facilitating communication between the consumer and the business to assist in resolving the complaint.
The Consumer Protection Division provides information and education to businesses and the public on consumer issues and issues alerts and press releases to warn consumers and businesses about fraudulent or predatory activities.
The Consumer Protection Division is also responsible for the administration of Washington’s Lemon Law for new motor vehicle warranty enforcement. The division also administers the Manufactured/Mobile Home Dispute Resolution Program. This program facilitates dispute resolution between manufactured/mobile home landlords and tenants in situations where the tenant owns the home but rents a space from the landlord.
Washingtonians can fill out a consumer complaint online here: https://fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/ComplaintForm.aspx or by calling 1-800-551-4636
Residents can also mail a complaint to:
Attorney General’s Office
Consumer Resource Center
800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000
Seattle, WA 98104
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Dan Jackson, Acting Communications Director, (360) 753-2716; email@example.com
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