Seattle ticketing company Brown Paper Tickets has agreed to pay $9m (£6.5m/€7.6m) in restitution to an estimated 45,000 customers and event organisers.
The announcement is a result of the Washington State Office of the Attorney General filing a lawsuit against the virtual box office firm in October over claims that 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 said the company engaged in “unfair and deceptive acts that violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.”
The Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a consent decree in King County Superior Court yesterday (Monday), five months after filing the suit.
Under the decree, the firm is obligated to pay the $9m within seven months and submit detailed progress reports every 30 days. An estimated 90% of customers entitled to restitution are ticket buyers, the Attorney General’s Office said, and are owed an average of less than $50, while event organisers are owed much more – as much as $1,000 to $10,000 or more per event.
Brown Paper Tickets is also required to pay the Attorney General’s Office $70,000 for attorney’s costs and fees.
Ferguson said in a statement: “Small theatres and arts organisations – like your local children’s theatre, community centre, church or music school – have been hit hard by COVID.
“Today’s resolution ensures Brown Paper Tickets will uphold its promises to these essential community spaces by returning the millions of dollars it owes them, and puts money back into the pockets of thousands of individuals across the country.”
In March 2020, 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.
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.
BPT was once one of the region’s most popular ticket brokers for small- to mid-sized theatres and community organisations because of its lower service fees.