Events Producers Across Country Still Owed Thousands Of Dollars By Brown Paper Tickets

The company, which was acquired last year by Events.com, continues to make headlines for late and missing payments.

By: Oct. 02, 2023
Events Producers Across Country Still Owed Thousands Of Dollars By Brown Paper Tickets
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When you visit the homepage of Brown Paper Tickets, a once industry-leading ticketing solution for small and independent venues across the country for events all of types, you wouldn't think anything is amiss. A web search for the company on the world's leading search engine won't give you pause either.

Click over to the news tab, however, or do a similar search on a social network and you'd probably think twice of using them as the box office for your next event.

In March 2020, BroadwayWorld first reported on Brown Paper Ticket's delays in paying out customers, something they blamed at the time on the pandemic. A full year later, they announced they would be paying a $9 million settlement to customers awaiting payouts and refunds following an investigation by The Washington State Office of the Attorney General, which reportedly received over a thousand complaints from customers around the world.

By October (that's October 2022 now), the company announced that Events.com would be acquiring its assets and continuing operations.

In a statement at the time, Events.com wrote "In advance of the acquisition, Events.com has partnered with BPT to support its efforts to refund ticket holders and assist event organizers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To accelerate BPT’s recovery and provide event customers with cash refunds rather than credits that much of the industry has issued, Events.com will continue to advance additional payments to BPT, enabling them to accelerate their payouts."

Fast forward another year, and both companies appear to be doing business as usual, but many of their customers still reporting ongoing financial issues, and delayed or altogether missing payments.

Several recent exposes have been printed alleging the company has failed to make payments for shows that have finished their runs. Given these payouts should be coming from box office receipts collected minus the fees owed to Brown Paper Tickets, it's not a major leap to assume the company is having cash flow issues. 

In Atlanta, both North Atlanta High School and Sutton Middle School have reportedly not been paid  $24,030 collectively owed. “Both schools were selling tickets, as they’d done traditionally, using this company they thought they could rely on, and unfortunately, got abused by the company,” said Kristin Childers,  a theatre booster at North Atlanta High School, to Atlanta News First. Both schools have self-funded arts programs, so without the ticket money, the programs are without a budget for their next show. The schools have allegedly not received payment for shows dating back to October 2022. Childers has filed complaints with both the Better Business Bureau and the attorney general's offices in both Georgia and Washington.

In Irving Park, Illinois, several local groups say the company hasn't paid out for events. Horner Park Advisory Council is allegedly owed $23,000 for a July 21st event. Bateman Boosters, a nonprofit supporting Bateman Elementary School is owed approximately $7,600 for events in 2020 and 2022. A local curling group says they are owed $1,625. Block Club Chicago reports that Events.com had promised payment would be remitted, but it had not yet been received at the time of writing. 

In Medford, Oregon, a local non-profit - The Sparrows Club - is still waiting for payment on their Dancing with the Rogue Valley Stars event from this past May, ABC12 reports. After fees, their expected payout was $15,100.

In Madison, local media reported as of this summer local companies were still owed thousands of dollars.

There are countless more reports from across the country detailing missed and delayed payments.

The Better Business Bureau currently has 3 active alerts issued for Brown Paper Tickets. These alerts don't have any meaningful impact, except perhaps deterring some would-be customers from ticketing their events on the platform. The BBB doesn't have any real authority to require specific performance from Brown Paper Tickets - but sometimes acts as a mediator between individuals with complaints and a company and note on their platform when a complaint is resolved. 

The Bureau's alert notes: "On June 9, 2020, BBB recognized a pattern of complaints from consumers regarding contract and refund issues. Consumers allege they hired BrownPaperTickets.com to manage their ticket sales and have not received the funds for the proceeds from their events. Consumers claim the company is blaming COVID, reduction in staff, and failure of their operations. Consumers who purchased tickets through BrownPaperTickets.com are also alleging they are having difficulties receiving refunds for events that were cancelled due to COVID. BBB reached out to the company in an effort to address the underlying cause of its pattern of complaints.  As of June 23, 2020, BrownPaperTickets.com has not responded to BBB."

On the listing for Brown Paper Tickets, complaints appear to start rolling in by fall 2020, and for some time the company worked diligently to resolve them. 

A complaint filed on June 14th of this year was resolved with payment remitted on June 22nd. The most recent complaint, filed on July 11th of this year for an event that occurred on June 23rd was resolved expeditiously. The case was updated with a note from the original complainant noting "Brown Paper Tickets in fact sent me my money 2 days after I filed the complaint."

It does not appear that Brown Paper Tickets has resolved any of the complaints filed more recently, with many still active and pending.

Across social media, dozens of producers share their recent gripes with the company, alleging that they haven't received payment for recent performances.

An event producer wrote on September 3rd "Think I gota hire a lawyer and sue Brown Paper Tickets. They still haven’t compensated me the 5k+ they owe [...] Phone lines are nonexistent. Don’t do ANY kind of business w this company."

Another producer wrote September 14th " 1.5 months later, and I still have not received my payout for my show. Several emails have been sent (since they do not take calls)."

Just four days ago another shared "I'm sad and angry to say that I got stiffed by Brown Paper Tickets for $500 in ticket revenue."

Phone lines not functioning and there being no way to contact the company are common threads across all the complaints.

It's unclear what recourse individual producers have, if any, aside from filing legal proceedings against the company, though several of the payouts noted here would be above the small claims court limits for that state or county. Even if a judgment against Brown Paper Tickets were obtained, if the company is truly unable to pay - collecting would be another issue and producers could spend more money getting what's owed to them than their final payout.

BroadwayWorld will continue to follow this story.




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