BBB urges parents to do their research with free circus tickets

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HILLIARD, Ohio - The Central Ohio Better Business Bureau is urging parents to do their research when it comes to some deals.

The Garden Brothers Circus has two scheduled performances Monday evening in Hilliard. Coupons offering a free circus ticket for kids with the purchase of an adult ticket popped up in communities around Central Ohio.

The BBB wants parents to do some research before heading out to catch the show. BBB President Kip Morse says the Garden Bros. Circus has an F-rating.

The BBB has 24 complaints on file against the company since 2016. Those complaints include parents saying they were led to spend a lot more money than anticipated to the event not being what was advertised.

"All of the sudden people realize, 'Wow I thought I was getting a free kids ticket and just pay for my ticket but I ended up spending a lot of money,'" Morse said.

Jim Davis, Executive Director of Stellar Entertainment Group, Inc., says Garden Bros. tries to respond to anyone who calls their customer service department directly. He also told 10TV's Laura Borchers that some of the complaints filed were based on issues they encountered with city permits and fire codes that were out of their control. In a statement, Davis wrote:

"We distribute the “free kids tickets” throughout the market to daycares, family organizations, elementary schools and many other locations. There are a handful of complaints with the BBB which we are not happy about. Our show Garden Bros Circus performs in over 280 cities each year, everything from the small town arenas to major markets working to keep the American tradition of the family circus alive. We had over one million customers attend our circus last year and have over 120,000 followers and likes on our Facebook page. Our staff is completely trained in crowd control along with when necessary we hire local police and security. We work hard to provide a very good show at a reasonable price."

The BBB said of the almost five million businesses registered with them, only 1.3 percent hold an "F" ranking. That calculation is made up of scores from 13 different categories including complaint volume and unresolved complaints. Of the complaints filed against Garden Brothers, the BBB shows the company did respond to some of those.

In another statement, Davis says the company does its best to provide a great family show.

"Does anyone take the time to realize the performers have dedicated their life to hone their craft, or the producer has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars purchasing equipment, trucks, lighting, sound, visas for performers? Or how we help the local economy purchasing fuel, eating at restaurants, purchasing supplies, securing permits and paying taxes? How about how amazing it is that our show will travel 50 to 60 thousand miles each year bringing the circus to over 200 cities? Garden Bros Circus performs seven days a week in a different city each day. Imagine the dedication of the performers and the staff to move a show every day and still smile and entertain to make sure the families have a great experience. Garden Bros Circus is dedicated to bringing the best in live family entertainment to families across America and will continue to innovate and create amazing productions as long as there is an audience that appreciates spending time enjoying live family entertainment. With over 120,000 Facebook likes and followers we must be doing something right."

"And then if the circus then leaves town that's a problem because... are they going to respond to the complaints or move on to the next city," Morse asked.

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