A national ticket vendor that hasn’t paid Janesville beer festival FlannelFest for ticket proceeds for its February 2020 festival said it intends to pay, but it is mired in a backlog of unpaid bills that authorities say total millions of dollars.
Brown Paper Tickets did not immediately respond Monday to a Gazette inquiry that FlannelFest filed complaints against Brown Paper with two state attorneys general. The complaints accuse the vendor of failing to pay the downtown Janesville festival for online ticket sales.
But in an emailed statement to The Gazette late Monday, a Brown Paper Tickets spokesman said the vendor’s team “has been working hard to initiate full refunds (and service fees) to ticket holders.”
The spokesman said the vendor intends to pay event organizers it still owes, but that could take a while.
The company said it got hit with a “backlog” of refund requests after the COVID-19 pandemic spurred an onslaught of cancellations and postponements of events Brown Paper had helped sell tickets for.
Some of those events, Brown Paper said, simply were “abandoned” by organizers.
FlannelFest and its parent organization, chamber of commerce group Downtown Janesville Inc., held FlannelFest just a few weeks before the COVID pandemic began spurring statewide shutdowns of commerce and public spaces.
The event drew 1,000 people, but FlannelFest said it hasn’t seen a dime of the $20,000 Brown Paper owes it for online ticket sales the vendor collected for the beer festival.
The nonpayment comes in addition to COVID-era limits on public events. None of that helps the prospects of FlannelFest returning in February, organizers told The Gazette.
The Washington state attorney general last month filed a suit accusing the third-party online ticket seller of not paying $6 million in bills owed to multiple event organizers.
Brown Paper initially sent a check to FlannelFest but then rescinded it, according to complaints over “breach of contract” that FlannelFest has filed with attorneys general in Wisconsin and Washington, Brown Paper’s home state.
Brown Paper, which bills itself as a “fair trade” online ticket seller focused on small nonprofit organizations’ events, said it regrets the “continued impact” to those waiting on payment.
“Like many businesses, we were unprepared for a crisis of the scale of COVID-19, but we are making headway,” a Brown Paper Tickets spokesman said in an email to The Gazette. “We understand the frustration that our customers are feeling and are working to find a solution that treats our customers right.”