Update (as of March 27, 2020): GrowTix noted in a statement to TicketNews that The Hollywood Reporter‘s article regarding the cancellation and actions by GrowTix is “a plainly inaccurate account of events and a misrepresentation of the obligations and actions of both GrowTix and ACE Universe.”
We have since written an updated version of the story here.
Update (as of March 26, 2020): Patron’s vice president of marketing Doug Lyons told The Hollywood Reporter that as part of the arrangement for Boston Comic Con, Growtix “processed transactions worth over $2.9 million, which was paid to ACE Universe over a period of several months – as the transactions occurred – prior to the event’s cancellation.”
Lyons told THR that ACE provided $680,000 for limited refunds as a result of specific changes in programming before the cancellation of the event, however, this did not cover all of the money needed to refund ticketholders.
“After repeated attempts to find a fair method to help ACE pay out refunds to their customers over time from the funds ACE were already paid and to allow them to manage their cash flow in the process, it became clear that ACE had no intention of willingly supplying the funds Growtix had passed along to them in order to compensate ACE’s customers,” Lyons said.
“Therefore, in order to attempt to help the fans receive their refunds in the time frame ACE had promised them, and as per the specific terms in the contract between the two entities, Growtix made requests to transfer the remaining money…from ACE’s bank account so Growtix could process ACE’s customers’ refunds. Growtix followed the exact terms of the contract and was doing everything they could to help fans receive the treatment they expected and deserved.”
Ace Universe, which was set to host this year’s Boston Comic Con before it was called-off due to coronavirus concerns, has filed a lawsuit against GrowTix for reportedly stealing customers’ refunds.
Boston’s 2020 Comic Con was slated to take place from March 20-22 and feature stars like Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, and Chris Hemsworth. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the nearly sold-out event was cancelled after Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and banned gatherings of more than 250 people.
Now, in a complaint filed on Monday, ACE accused the ticketing service and event management software GrowTix of “stealing millions of dollars” in customer refunds, the Hollywood Reporter notes.
According to THR, GrowTix was set to be compensated based on a percentage of sales, and the two companies agreed to cover the process of refunds in case of a cancellation. Additionally, the contract contained a force majeure provision, which ACE called an excused performance when the parties were unable to live up to expectations due to “government action” or an “act of god.”
The suit notes that ACE gave GrowTix $680,000 to facilitate refunds, only to find out after that the refund plan no longer worked. ACE is suing for breach of contract and fraud.
In the complaint, ACE notes that both parties agreed customers would receive a full refund within 30 days. Upon the Refund Agreement, ACE funded GrowTix money to refund customers and made an announcement regarding refunds to all ticketholders on social media. However, less than a week later, ACE says the company received a letter from GrowTix’s corporate office noting that “it was not only withholding the money transferred to it for refunds, but was also demanding more money from ACE in regards to its own fees.”
Following the letter, ACE alleges that GrowTix sough to withdraw $2.3 million from ACE bank accounts in the middle of the night, something that “would have jeopardized the company and all but destroyed any chance of refunds.” Fortunately, the “unauthorized attack” was prevented, yet ACE noted in the complaint that hundreds of thousands of dollars will be lost in improper transactional fees,” as well as “harm to its reputation with the inevitable failure to meet its refund obligations.”
On Tuesday, ACE released a statement, noting that while the company cannot comment on active litigation, “we will continue to maintain our steadfast commitment to the fans and will always have their backs.”
“Regarding refunds to ACE Northeast, General Admission tickets have already begun being refunded from the Universe without concern, and those will continue to process as planned in their entirety over the next couple of weeks,” ACE said. “ACE is working diligently to ensure that every one of its customers gets a full refund in the wake of the event’s shutdown by the government due to the coronavirus. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.”
We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.