Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against Seattle-based virtual box office firm Brown Paper Tickets (BPT) after receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers and event organisers.
Ferguson claims the company failed to pay organisers 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 this week 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 organisers approximately $6m and ticket buyers $760,000 nationwide.
He said: “Small organisations and individuals are hurting right now. 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 honour their commitments.”
Through its informal complaint resolution process, the Attorney General’s Office has helped some organisers and ticket buyers recover funds from Brown Paper Tickets, but the overwhelming majority have reportedly 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.
Ferguson has asked the court for $2,000 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act, restitution for ticket buyers and event organisers and an order stopping the company from further violating the law.
In August, attorneys filed legal actions against the ticket broker in King County Superior Court on behalf of ticket buyers with a class-action complaint requesting a jury trial, and on behalf of 16 event producers petitioning the court to appoint a general receiver to seize BPT’s assets.
According to the Seattle Times, BPT was once one of the region’s most popular ticket brokers for small- to mid-sized theaters and community organisations because of its lower service fees.
In March, BPT founder and president William Jordan said the firm had “lost control” of its cash flow and had to shut down outgoing payments to everyone.