Desperate to See Dear Evan Hansen, Hamilton, Hello Dolly!? Be Prepared to be Ripped Off By Sites Reselling Tickets
By: Ellis Nassour
This rip-off business of some theater ticket sites selling “resale tickets” at outrageous prices by “bots” is now illegal; but the resale of tickets purchased by individuals at posted box offices prices to sites for enormous mark-ups, appears to be legal. Both practices are highway robbery. Interestingly, though this moneymaking scheme creates a great loss for producers, they have done nothing to stop sites from individual ticket reselling.
Whatever the name, these tickets are then offered at three, four, and five times face value. It’s nothing more than consumer rip-off, but it’s what some consumers are willing to do for seats to blockbuster shows.
There needs to be a rebellion! Avoid the price-gouging.
In a measure to stop the “bots” rapid purchase of tickets, legislation was passed late last year by voice vote in the Senate and House of Representatives that would crack down on computer software used by some ticket brokers to snap up tickets. This sells out performances to, say, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, or Hello Dolly! in just a few minutes according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Then, tickets are resold at upwards of $1,000 or more.
An AP report cited third-party brokers that resale tickets on sites such as TicketMaster, StubHub, and TicketsNow average margins of 49% above face value and sometimes more than 10 times the price.
The bill would make using the software an “unfair and deceptive practice” under the Federal Trade Commission Act and allow the FTC to pursue those cases.
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League [of producers], announced their support for NY’s Senator Chuck Schumer‘s sponsorship of legislation that would impose a $16,000 fine on those who use automated ticket purchasing software to purchase tickets online.
“However, “bots” rapid purchase is different from consumers buying up what they can at posted box office prices and selling the tickets to sites for resale.
The Broadway League was asked for comment on these sales, which dip into producers’ bottom line, but did not offer one.
However, an executive with the Shubert Organization informed that what these sites are doing is legal – even if greedy and unethical. However, the executive added that what theatre owners and producers are attempting to do is shut down sites which sell the same seat(s) twice or more; and also those issuing bogus tickets.
A solution is to go to the box office. Treasurers are eager to help you secure the best seats for a price you can afford. And if you go as a couple but don’t mind seeing a show in separate seats, you’d be surprised what you can get into.
Another safe option is Shubert Organization-owned TeleCharge, where service fees will apply but where you won’t be gorged in the wallet.
Heads up: a check of Hello, Dolly! Bette Midler dates the second week of July, and tickets are available at regular posted prices, plus service fees.
Since you have to pay rent or monthly fees and also eat, you might consider the numerous promotions for shows in previews. The Broadway League has the Kid’s Night promotions; NYC & Company, the bi-annual Broadway Week [usually two weeks] 2-for 1 ticket offers [www.nycgo.com]. Take advantage of the fact that 90% of shows are available for 40-50% off [plus $4.50 service fee] at the TDF booths.
Keep in mind when a show sells out, the box office offers Standing Room. Prices vary, but around $50.00 is a good bet. Just wear comfortable shoes.
Now, you can find bargains. For instance, just this week someone found second row orchestra seats for the farce The Play That Goes Wrong on Theatermania.com and Playbill.com for under $115.00, including service fee. Both sites have theater clubs that are free to join.
FYI: Tony and Drama Desk winner Donna Murphy will play the title role in Hello, Dolly! on Tuesday evenings beginning June 13; and these announced dates: June 27-July 2, July 5-9, July 30 evening performance, September 6-10, October 15 evening performance, October 30, November 1-5, November 24 matinee, and January 7 evening.
The posted box office price for Hello, Dolly! orchestra seats is $189.00-$229.00; Dear Evan Hansen, $189.00.
Here are recent examples of how people desperate to see the blockbuster hits are being taken to the cleaners by individual reselling tickets.
Over the weekend, a young patron reported her boyfriend paid $1,000.00 for two orchestra seats for Dear Evan Hansen on one of the ticket sites. When asked why, she replied, “It was last minute, and we really wanted to see it.” She added that both will go without lunch several days. Maybe even dinner!
Recent complaints include numerous complaints about sites such as
TicketMaster, where a recent purchase of a Hamilton ticket, rear Mezz, Row E, right, with a posted base price of $179.00 – $229.00 (front) was resold for $587.00 plus service fee of $93.92, for a total of $680.92. Where is the service in reselling a ticket at more than twice its value?
At VividSeats.com, resale prices for Hamilton ranged from a $79.00 ticket for Balcony, Row F, left, resold for $275.00 plus $90.00 service fee; $422.00 for Mezz, Row D, side; to $552.00 for side Orch, Row V or, get this, $2,760.00 for side Orch, Row W (second to last row). The site recently sent an e-mail blast: Save $50 On Hamilton tickets! Well, okay, then; but make it $100!
StubHub.com is offering Hello, Dolly! for $180.00-$420.00 [sides, Balcony] – $990.00 [center Orch]; Dear, Evan Hansen, $285.00 [sides, Mezz]-$800.00 [center Orch] in the intimate Music Box Theatre. BroadwayBox.com, usually the site for bargains, has offered weeknight tickets [prior to Donna Murphy performances] for Hello, Dolly! for $326.00 [Balcony]- $490.00 [Orch/partial view].
There seems to be no shame. Box office prices [which also average $145.00 for plays] can be daunting. Then, add another $2 facility fee [which still hasn’t gotten the Shubert Organization to install a handicapped restroom at their namesake Shubert Theatre, where patrons on walkers and in wheelchairs are directed to restrooms at the Marriott Hotel or Sardi’s, second floor, reachable by elevator].