ACE Comic Con Suing GrowTix Over Coronavirus Refunds

We haven’t bothered reporting on the mass closures and postponement of conventions during this ongoing pandemic, because — well — it’s a pandemic and you’re probably hearing it everywhere. If there was a con scheduled for the next few months, it’s been cancelled or postponed.

One of those conventions affected was the Boston event for ACE Comic Con‘s line of shows, originally scheduled for March 20th-22nd. According to ACE Universe, owners of ACE Comic Con, they discussed refunds with their ticketing provider, Patron owned GrowTix. Their contract contained a force majeure provision which ACE believed was triggered by the Massachusetts Governor’s ban on all events of more than 250 people. It all seemed pretty simple.

But apparently it wasn’t, because now ACE Universe is suing GrowTix in the Southern District Court of New York.

According to the complaint ACE coordinated with GrowTix and provided $680,000 for GrowTix to refund customers. ACE announced they would be refunding customers afterwards on their social media. Only five days later though, ACE claims that they received a letter from Patron CEO Marc Jenkins:

On Monday, March 16, however, ACE received a letter from Marc Jenkins,CEO of GrowTixparent, Patron(“Jenkins Letter”), advising it 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, directly contradicting the Refund Agreement.

Things got wilder when, according to the complaint:

On March 17, 2020, these concerns were realized when Defendants attempted to seize and withdraw $2.3 million from an ACE bank account, just a few days after the Parties had agreed to cooperate in getting all of the ACE customers their money back.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens, but (as with all lawsuits) there’s still a chance this will end up settled. For the sake of attendees I hope it is honestly, because right now people are still waiting for their refunds.

Update: GrowTix has issued an official response.

ACE’s lawsuit does not reflect the reality of the business relationship between our two companies, nor the good faith steps Growtix took to help Comic Con fans obtain their rightfully due refunds. We intend to defend vigorously against this meritless and frivolous lawsuit.The article published on March 24, 2020 in the Hollywood Reporter regarding the ACE Universe Comic Con 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.As a service provider, Growtix facilitated the transactions for over $2.9million in sales for ACE Universe, with all of the money due to ACE under the contract remitted to ACE as part of the services agreement between the two companies. When the event was forcibly cancelled due to COVID-19, ACE was responsible for returning $2.9million+ they were paid to the fans. Growtix is the transaction processor to make this happen, not the bank for ACE, and thus needed ACE to supply the money originally sent to them back to Growtix in order to pay the refunds. ACE refused to do this (which they are obligated to do under the contract), and as legally allowed by the contract between them, Growtix attempted to access the funds to cover the refunds to the fans, who expected and deserved this to occur in the 30-day window promised by ACE.The lawsuit does not reflect any of the reality of the business relationship between the two companies, nor the good faith steps Growtix took to help Comic Con fans obtain their rightfully due refunds.


Trae Dorn

Trae Dorn has been staffing conventions for over twenty years, and is a co-founder of Wisconsin’s longest running Anime convention No Brand Con. Trae also wrote and drew the now completed webcomic UnCONventional, and produces the podcasts BS-Free Witchcraft, On This Day With Trae, Stormwood & Associates, and The Nerd & Tie Podcast. This leads many to ask when the hell they have time to actually do anything anymore. Trae says they have the time because they “do it all quite poorly.”

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