VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A group of teens in Vancouver said they were tricked by a local promoter who hired them to work, but never paid them their wages.
Genesis Miner, 14, said she was one of the teens who heard about a job with Blackboard Music in October, promoting a haunted house in Vancouver called Confront Your Fears.
"We had to pass out these Confront Your Fears coupons to people," said Miner, showing a postcard-sized flier.
The teens said the promoters also paid them to put up posters at restaurants and at their schools, and to post positive statements about the haunted house on their Facebook pages twice a week.
"We had to make it all exciting so a lot of people would want to come," said Miner.
She read a Facebook post from another teen, Miriam Kirk. "Miriam posted, 'Everyone go to Confront Your Fears this weekend. You will have a blast,'" said Miner.
Miner's mother said her daughter was enthusiastic about the work.
"She was excited because she's never worked before," said Debra Miner. "It's her first job, her first chance to make money other than babysitting."
The teens told us they did the work, but Blackboard Music did not pay them.
"Genesis had inquired about her check and they said, 'We sent your check, your check is in the mail. We sent everybody's checks,'" said Debra Miner.
Kirk agreed, "They kept, like, adding on, 'Oh, it should be there tomorrow. It should be there on Wednesday.'"
"They were just making up all these excuses and stuff," added Malachi King, another teen who said he also was hired by Blackboard Music to promote the haunted house.
Despite the promises, the teens said the checks never arrived.
"No, no check, no phone calls," said Debra Miner.
The teens said the man who hired them was Mike Cox, who was working for Blackboard Music. The head of the company is Kris Martin.
Cox told us in an email that he was simply doing what he was instructed to do by the people in charge.
Martin told us by phone that the haunted house, Confront Your Fears, did not pay him enough money to in turn pay the teens.
The attorney for Confront Your Fears, Mark Sampath, said the haunted house already has paid Blackboard Music more than $20,000. Sampath said there were questions about whether Blackboard Music actually fulfilled what was in the marketing contract, so they requested in November that Martin provide documentation of the marketing work before they give him the final payment of $3,000 to $4,000. Sampath said Martin has not contacted him with that documentation. He added that the $20,000 already paid should be enough money to pay the teens.
Martin did not respond to our requests to explain why the teens did not get their checks out of the $20,000 already paid to Blackboard Music. He claimed that he did the work as laid out in the contract and should be paid the full amount. He said he was waiting for the haunted house's attorney to contact him regarding requirements for the final payment. He did not explain why he did not contact the attorney himself.
"I think it's kind of scandalous," said Genesis Miner.
"I'm disgusted," said Debra Miner. "Be an adult. Contact parents, contact kids. Say, 'This is what's going on, let's work on something.'"
Debra Miner said she wished her daughter's first job had taught her a better lesson about life and work.
"Especially if you're working with teens, your job is to be an example," said Debra Miner. "If nothing else to show them prosperity, to show them what hard work does, not use them up and throw them to the side now that you don't need them."
Mike Mudgett, an owner of Confront Your Fears, told us Monday afternoon that if Martin does not pay the teens, he would like to find a way to help them with at least part of their wages.