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The Boston-based ticket agency has been forced to cut staff numbers while it takes Fyre Media to court to recover the $3.5m it owes in refunds
By Jon Chapple on 18 May 2017
Tablelist, a Massachusetts-based start-up hired to sell tickets for the ill-fated Fyre Festival, has been forced to lay off 40% of its consumer-facing staff as it sues festival organisers for lost earnings.
The latest lawsuit against Billy McFarland, Jeffrey ‘Ja Rule’ Atkins and other Fyre Media bosses – the tenth or 11th, depending which reports you read – alleges that “Fyre Festival organisers defrauded Tablelist into selling $3.5 million in tickets, then took the money and left the ticket sales platform responsible for customer chargebacks and refunds”.
Despite Fyre promising refunds to all who attended the festival – which collapsed on its first day after patrons arrived in the Bahamas to find a half-built “refugee camp” in lieu of the luxury accommodation they were promised – Tablelist says none have yet been issued. It is demanding US$3.5 million in Boston’s Suffolk County Superior Court so it can “refund the money to its customers”.
According to the complaint, Fyre “conducted a fraudulent, highly orchestrated scheme to convince Tablelist to provide ticketing-processing services for the festival, which Fyre falsely marketed as an ‘exclusive, luxury’ event. Event organisers presented Tablelist with numerous assurances the festival would be well organised and well funded, pointing to high-profile celebrity endorsements, headlining musical acts, significant sponsorship deals and a competitive bid process for the ticketing vendor role, according to the complaint.
“Based on these assurances, Tablelist sold more than $3.5m in concert tickets and VIP experiences, passing nearly every dollar through to the Fyre Festival organisers and retaining only 10% in escrow for potential consumer credit card chargebacks and ticket refunds and a transaction service fee.
“Despite announcing that ‘all festivalgoers this year will be refunded in full’, festival organisers never remitted a penny to Tablelist to pass along to consumers”
“After the event’s cancellation, Tablelist immediately demanded that Fyre Media return the millions of dollars they had received through ticket sales. Despite announcing that ‘all festivalgoers this year will be refunded in full’, festival organisers never remitted a penny to Tablelist to pass along to consumers. […] Ticket purchasers are now pursuing millions of dollars in chargebacks – working through their credit card companies to receive refunds – which vastly exceed the depleted escrow fund.”
As well as McFarland, Atkins and Fyre Media itself, the lawsuit lists marketing director Grant Margolis and investor Carola Jain as defendants.
Julian Jung (pictured), Tablelist’s CEO, comments: “Like so many other companies, investors and endorsers, Tablelist – and our customers – are victims of a fraud.
“Fyre Festival organizers completely left us hanging out to dry as the middle man between this disastrous event and our ticketholders. All the money sits with Fyre, and we’re fighting back to get those funds to our customers, where they belong.”
Since what it calls the “spectacular failure” of Fyre Festival, Tablelist has laid off 40% of its workforce on the consumer side of its business while it focuses on the lawsuit.
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