A few unscrupulous jerks piggyback off charity effort
Disasters bring out the best and the worst of human nature, and unfortunately Hurricane Sandy has been no exception. On December 12, the 12.12.12 Concert for Sandy Relief will take place at New York's Madison Square Garden, where Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, Chris Martin, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, and the Who will perform to benefit the Robin Hood Relief Fund. In the meantime, on the secondary market, a small number of walking pieces of human filth are robbing from the disaster-stricken to give to themselves. 'Tis the season!
Ticketmaster waived its usual fees for the sold-out tickets, which originally cost from $150 to $2,500. However, tickets are still available through secondhand ticket-sellers such as StubHub, where as of this typing you could buy your way into the 12.12.12 concert for up to $59,999.99. As the Wall Street Journal and CBSNewYork have reported, the scalping of tickets intended to help storm victims has drawn heated criticism. "They should be in jail, those people," one Staten Island man who lost his home to Sandy told CBS.
StubHub, an eBay subsidiary, has said it would donate all profits from scalped tickets to the relief fund. "We chose to partner with the Robin Hood Relief Fund for this event rather than remove ticket listings, which would turn fans and relief dollars away," StubHub said in a statement. Still, for an organization smart enough to employ a head of corporate social responsibility, not making money off of other people's misery seems like a pretty low bar.
StubHub has said it's also giving all 12.12.12 sellers the option of donating their ill-gotten gains to the Robin Hood Relief fund, the American Red Cross, or other nonprofit organizations leading Sandy relief efforts. And it's true, $60,000 would buy a whole lot of food and blankets. But it's unclear how many scalpers have actually donated their profits back to Sandy victims, and you don't need to know a lot about human nature to suspect the answer is: not a lot.
A more practical question is how ticket sales can be more efficiently directed to charitable groups in the future. Jon Potter, the head of ticket consumer site Fran Freedom, suggested to the Journal that it's tough to determine exactly why tickets sold out so quickly and at such lower prices than their apparent resale value. David Saltzman, executive director of the Robin Hood Foundation, told CBS he hopes resellers take StubHub up on the donation offer. "Too many people need all of our help," he's quoted as saying.
Patricia Smith, Robin Hood's marketing and communications director, told the Journal the group expected "high demand" for tickets, which is why they set up a live broadcast of the event. With a projected audience of up to one billion, the event will air live on 34 U.S. television channels, plus a network of international TV stations, and Clear Channel radio. It will also be streaming online. As another option, movie theaters in areas affected by Sandy will be offering a free simulcast. See? That's how people are supposed to treat each other. Now let's look forward to the music.