A lawsuit filed in Washington state alleges box office company, Brown Paper Tickets owes nearly $7 million to event organizers and ticket holders across the country, including here in Wisconsin.
Call 4 Action received a complaint about the company and the I-Team interviewed several consumers who say they the company still owes them money.
Abby Galstad, Christine Suhre, and Kelly Bujak are not only out hundreds of dollars of their own money but say the schools or small businesses they're connected with are out thousands after using Brown Paper Tickets.
"We were supposed to do the Sound of Music at the beginning of April last year," said Galstad, who works at Catholic Central High in Burlington. The show was canceled because of COVID-19.
Galstad explains people including her family, bought tickets through the service and never got a refund. A lot of others did too.
"Our poor ticket holders who were just trying to support our local high school theater production are out all of this money," she continued.
Galstad says ticket holders are owed $11,673.
Kelly Bujak says she can unfortunately relate.
"I purchased tickets for the Holy Hill Art Farm," said Bujak who still hasn't received a refund for the $484.68 for the seven dinner tickets she bought.
"It's well over a year now that I've been out this money," she continued.
Bujak says the event organizer is out around $16,000.
Christine Suhre's event wasn't canceled, but she says her theater company never saw a dime.
"I was part of a theater called Cathe Youth Theater and that community center has since closed during COVID-19," Suhre said.
"We were issued four of our six checks but we couldn't cash them," she said.
"I got an email that said if you're holding any checks, please let us know what they are and how much they're for. Do not deposit them," said Suhre.
"We are out over $7,000," said Suhre.
All of the women say they've contacted Brown Paper Tickets, asking for refunds.
"You just kind of get the loop recording. You're never able to talk to anybody," Bujak said.
When they emailed the company, they received an automated response. The same thing happened to the I-Team. Here's part of the email response:
"Please note that refunds are currently delayed due to our backlog of requests and reduced support staff. We will respond as soon as we are able. Sending multiple emails to our various inboxes won’t result in quicker responses.
We recognize that this is not the normal 3-10 day refund time frame that we pride ourselves on, and we are deeply sorry for the delay. Please be assured that we will get to you."
The company uploaded a message on its website on Sept. 14, 2020.
The statement says Brown Paper Tickets is continuing to work through the backlog of refund requests and that it's giving full refunds to ticket holders and event organizers on a daily basis.
About two weeks after this message, the Washington State Attorney Generals' office filed a lawsuit against the Seattle-based company saying its office "...received 583 consumer complaints against Brown Paper Tickets from both event organizers and ticket buyers." The suit goes on to say, "Upon information and belief, Brown Paper Tickets owes event organizers approximately $6,000,000 and ticket buyers $760,000."
More than twelve hundred complaints about Brown Paper Tickets is on the Better Business Bureau's website, which contradicts what these event organizers knew about the box office company before COVID-19 hit.
"They were the ones that got the highest marks from all of my colleagues," said Galstad.
"We've used them for years. We've used them for years," said Suhre.
They feel differently now.
"The scary thing for me is that you can still go onto Brown Paper Tickets and people can still book an event," Galstad said.
The I-Team contacted Wisconsin's Attorney Generals' office asking if our state has an active investigation into this box office company. A spokesperson said if a case does get to the Department of Justice, the AG's office wouldn't be able to comment since it cannot discuss active investigations.
The Federal Trade Commission would not confirm whether it was investigating Brown Paper Tickets.