Promoters Respond To Dead Ticket Complaints

The promoters of the upcoming Grateful Dead farewell concerts at Chicago’s  have responded to criticism from some fans over the way ticketing was handled for the shows.

Complaints surrounding access to the hottest tickets of the summer may have been inevitable, but it appears much of the frustration surrounding the shows centered on the decision by promoters Peter Shapiro, Mike Luba and Don Sullivan to use the Dead’s Grateful Dead Ticket Sales Too for a portion of the tickets.

The mail-order service, created in the 1980s by the band, allowed Deadheads to decorate envelopes and send in mail orders for concert tickets, which would then be filled.

But when GDTS Too reportedly received 600,000 requests for tickets to the shows, which had 150,000 seats available, some didn’t get the tickets they’d requested and many others were left with no tickets at all.

Deadhead Dean Sottile got some press for calling out Shapiro on his blog, Grateful Dean, where he noted that “those who received their tickets by mail this week were met with surprise and suspicion when the pricing levels and seating charts mysteriously changed AFTER all their money orders were cashed.”

Members of the Grateful Dead 50th – Face Value Tickets group on Facebook also voiced complaints, with some even calling for a class-action lawsuit over the matter.

The reason for the seating chart change? The promoters had decided to add capacity to the concerts by changing reserved floor sections to GA and opening up the sections behind the stage after being flooded by the mail-order requests.

Sottile’s issue with the switch wasn’t that the seating charts had changed, but instead that the prices on the new seating chart featured jacked-up prices.

“The 300 level seats were all priced at either $79.50 or $119.50,” he wrote. “Here’s where the Switcheroo takes place! People receiving Mail Order tickets this week received 300 level tickets that were priced at $199.50. “Not only that, 300 Level seats that were released on Ticketmaster this morning were all priced at $199.50,” he continued. “That my friends is a real unethical, unkind, unrighteous maneuver. Whether it’s illegal, I’m not certain as I haven’t read through anything that may state that prices are subject to change without notice. What I do know, is it’s a move that stinks of greed and completely goes against everything that the band and its organization has provided throughout the years.”

In a statement on the Dead50 site, Shapiro, Luba and Sullivan explained that with the changes to the seating chart came several challenges for GDTS Too.

“Since the mail order process began in January, by the time we were able to make these ticket allotment changes and update our seating chart, the ticket requests and money orders had already been sent in,” they wrote. “Despite the extra work opening up the floor and adding more mail order tickets made for us and the GDTS TOO crew, we still felt this was the best way to get more core Grateful Dead fans into the shows, so we set out to make our new seating configuration work within the confines of the January mail order ticket request submission rules.”

It wasn’t feasible for GDTS Too to contact everyone who’d sent in money orders to discuss the alternative seating options that were available, it wasn’t right to force fans who’d ordered reserved floor seats to take standing GA tickets, and it wasn’t possible to accommodate every fan who’d ordered reserved floor seats as there simply weren’t enough seats available, the statement noted.

Thus, “in the spirit of trying to accommodate as many fans as possible, we decided to allocate those reserved floor and other specific requests to other available seats using the same price points. We know how disappointing mail order rejection letters are, especially since these are the band’s final shows, so we sought to figure out a way to get as many of you as possible an envelope with tickets in it.”

Full refunds are being offered to GDTS Too purchasers that received seats in a different section than they ordered and don’t wish to attend the concert. Partial refunds are also being offered to fans that still wish to attend the shows but received tickets that didn’t match the prices on the seating charts available at the time their orders were placed.

“Please understand that we did what we did in order to enable as many of you as possible to have your ticket requests fulfilled,” they wrote. “Given the lighting, sound and video elements we have created specifically for these shows, we are confident that all mail order ticket holders will enjoy an amazing experience.”