life in and around NYC is insane

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Disgusted

Scalping tickets used to be illegal. Now it's big business.


What happened last week... absolutely repulsive. I took a vacation day Tuesday to get some stuff done around the house. I decided to read the morning headlines on my tablet while enjoying my first cup of coffee. And I saw something absolutely wonderful. Billy Joel was planning to do a surprise concert at the Paramount, in Huntington, NY. The concert would be the following night, October 16, and would benefit Long Island Cares.


Long Island Cares was founded by the late Harry Chapin, one of my favorite performers  Its mission is to end hunger on Long Island.  (If you remember Harry and what he was all about, you didn't need to ask what the charity's mission is.)

So what could be better, a charity concert for a cause I care about, right in my proverbial back yard, with one of my favorite performers?  And I've never seen Billy in concert, except for his guest appearance at the Paul McCartney concert in Citi Field.

 Billy chose the Paramount because he and the band have been rehearing there in anticipation of his upcoming European tour.  Yes, Billy still lives and works on Long Island, and we are proud to claim him as one of our own.

Tickets went on sale Tuesday at noon, with a price range of $80-$150, and a limit of 2 tickets per household.  You could get the tickets only by calling Ticketmaster or by using the Ticketmaster website.  The Paramount is a very small venue, seats about 1500, so getting tickets was going to be luck of the draw, but at least everyone had a shot...

Or did they?

The concert sold out within minutes, as expected.

But by mid-afternoon, Stubhub and Ticket Liquidators and all the other brokers on the secondary market had tickets for sale.  Lots of tickets.  Blocks of tickets.  Selling for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.    At one point I saw over 100 tickets available on the Stubhub site, with the lowest ticket price listed as $800.  And you know that the profit on those tickets is going to the broker, not to the charity.

In other words, the real fans never had a shot at tickets, the event has become a party for the rich at the expense of Long Island's poor.

What truly irks me about all of this...Ticketmaster has two mechanisms at its disposal which could have prevented this fiasco.

The first is called "credit card entry".  The patron cannot enter the venue unless he or she produces a photo ID and the credit card which was used to purchase the tickets.

The second is Ticketmaster's ability to resell tickets purchased by a patron.  If, for some reason, you cannot attend the event, you can sell your ticket on the Ticketmaster website.

So why are brokers even needed anymore?

I admit, I have an account at Stubhub, I've sold unwanted tickets as well as shopped for tickets I couldn't get elsewhere.

But after what happened this time around...a noble impulse to entertain the fans, a generous effort on behalf of a charity, has turned into a horrible, disastrous, display of greed.

Yes, I am disgusted.

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