by Steve Annear | April 25, 2013 1:39 pm
Workers at The Wilbur Theatre were “disgusted” that brokers were trying to make a profit from the sales of tickets to a comedian’s benefit show at the venue, where all proceeds were supposed to help the victims and families impacted by the Boston Marathon bombing.
Comedian Aziz Ansari, known for his stand-up and character role on the sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” announced this week that he would be doing a last-minute appearance in Boston, and was donating all of the money raised from ticket sales to the city’s One Fund. The Wilbur Theatre is also donating $9,500 to the Officer Richard Donohue Fund. Donohue was the MBTA Transit Police officer wounded in a shootout with the bombing suspects in Watertown.
But soon after tickets went on sale Wednesday—which sold out in less than five minutes—they started appearing on other websites with a marked-up price tag. “Knowing this kind of show, we were hoping humanity would prevail in purchasing and doing the right thing for this,” says Andrew Mather, concert promoter and director of marketing for the Wilbur.
Unfortunately, it didn’t.
First, tickets showed up under an event listing on StubHub.com, which is a platform for event goers to sell and get rid of extras they don’t need. After being called out by several people on Twitter, and later, The Wilbur Theatre staff, StubHub removed the listing. “I called Stub Hub and talked to them, we just had to bring it to their attention. They weren’t like ‘lets get tickets to this and sell them,’” says Mather.
In a Tweet to Boston, StubHub said “the event was listed in error” and was removed from the site once notified by Mather. They apologized profusely to others on the social media site, and thanked them for their concern over the matter. “StubHub has employees and many customers in the Boston area. We are deeply saddened by the events at the Boston Marathon and our thoughts go out to Boston and all those impacted by that tragic event,” representatives said in an email. The Wilbur staff and StubHub were also able to quash the tension quite quickly:
But others were still trying to scalp tickets for a profit elsewhere.
On eBay—which owns StubHub— one person was selling a pair of tickets to the benefit show for $200, roughly a $100 cost increase if sold through the Wilbur Theatre and Ticketmaster. An additional user was selling two tickets on the site for $300.
Sales were also showing up on Boston’s Craigslist, but the listings were gone by Thursday morning, a day after people expressed concerns on Twitter and Facebook about re-selling the tickets for profit. Whether they were sold, or retracted by the seller, is unclear, however.
The Wilbur put out a message to its followers on Facebook when they found out about the scalpers, and urged people not to purchase tickets through third-party sites. They called the act “disgusting” and promised to rectify the issue, and get the tickets back from those who tried to scam the system by purchasing more than two tickets, which was the limit The Wilbur had for each paying customer. To do this, Mather says they worked with Ticketmaster representatives to weed out anyone “red flags” and people that may have used multiple credit cards, but the same address, phone number or email address, when making a purchase. Mather says the experts used an “algorithm” to sift through the ticket sales.
From their research, roughly 73 were “suspiciously” purchased, out of 1,093 tickets that were up for sale, all of which were refunded to the buyers, and will be put back on the market for “true fans” who want to do some good while having a laugh. “I haven’t talked to [Ansari] personally, I spoke to his agent, so I can’t say for sure how he felt, but I had made it clear we would do our damndest to make sure this was truly an event for fans, and a really positive experience. We were not going to let brokers dampen this whole thing. I think the actions we took yesterday really helped,” says Mather.
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