Shapiro Does the Right Thing

Fare Thee Well promotor Peter Shapiro released a statement to fans on June 10, explaining the ticketing situation and addressing some fans’ concerns over receiving tickets for seats they did not request through GDTS TOO. In it, he talks about how he wanted to use the old mail ordering process to essentially make these shows feel just like they did in the 1980s and 90s, when fans sent in money orders in decorated envelopes in hopes of snagging tickets to see the Grateful Dead. He even offers refunds to those who are not satisfied with what they received from GDTS TOO.

The most encouraging piece is that he is offering to refund the difference between what a fan paid for the seats he or she received if that person does not get the desired experience from the shows. I have to give Shapiro a round of applause, as this has been a difficult situation from the start.

He also explains how promotors decided to open up the general admission portion of the venue to fit more fans inside. In a commendable response, Shapiro comes across as a true fan and seems quite sincere. I called for him to give an explanation, as did many other media outlets, of what has become a ticketing fiasco, and Shapiro delivered.

He closes out the note with a lyric from “Terrapin Station,” where Jerry Garcia sings, “statements just seem vain at last,” making it seem like it’s in the promotors’ self interest and not the fans’. Maybe he should have completed the lyrics: “Some rise, some fall, to get to Terrapin,” as that’s how it feels to some fans.

Either way, I pat Shapiro on the back. I won’t even call this damage control — he stood up, gave an explanation, offered a solution to unhappy ticket holders and offers encouragement in advance of the shows.

Dear Mail Order Ticket Purchasers,

It’s hard to believe that it’s already June. Soon we will be together in Santa Clara and Chicago celebrating 50 years of the music of the Grateful Dead. We think you know by now that we are fans too, and your experience at the event is important to us, so before we get there, we want to address an issue that has affected a number of you who ordered your tickets through GDTS TOO mail order.

We decided early on – even though it would have been easier for us to follow the well-trodden path of nearly every promoter in the past 20 years and sell 100% of the “Fare Thee Well” tickets online – that we wanted to honor the Grateful Dead spirit and make a portion of the tickets available through GDTS TOO mail order.

When it became clear the extent to which Dead50 was resonating with people and how many of you wanted to be part of it (over half a million mail order ticket requests), we added capacity by changing the reserved floor sections to GA and opening up the sections behind the stage – quadrupling the initial mail order allotment.

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. 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 was not feasible for the GDTS TOO crew to reach out to everyone who had sent in money orders for $199.50 or other priced tickets to discuss preferred alternatives to reserved floor seats or other selected seats that were no longer available, nor were partial refunds a practical option. Also, GDTS TOO did not think it was right to force fans who had ordered reserved floor seats to take general admission standing room tickets instead — anyone who had ever been to a Grateful Dead show would be at least 20 years older now and had probably ordered reserved seats for a good reason. Nor was it possible to fit everyone who had ordered reserved floor seats into the existing allotment of $199.50 seats; there simply were not enough available.

At that point, we could have easily decided that these orders simply couldn’t be fulfilled and returned the uncashed money orders without tickets. Instead, 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.

REFUND INFORMATION

If you received tickets by mail order for seats in a different section than what you ordered on your envelope or were charged more than the price of such tickets on the seating chart made available at the time your order was mailed, and you no longer wish to attend “Fare Thee Well,” you may return your tickets to GDTS TOO for a full refund. Tickets must be received in the GDTS TOO office by Monday, June 22nd to be eligible. See gdtstoo.com for more information on how to obtain a full refund.

If you received tickets by mail order and were charged more than the price of such tickets on the seating chart made available at the time their orders were mailed and still wish to attend “Fare Thee Well,” we personally encourage you to attend the shows and sit in the seats you received via mail order. If you’re not satisfied that you got your money’s worth, we will refund the difference between what you paid and the price of such tickets on the seating chart made available at the time your order was mailed. Save your ticket stubs, and in the week following the shows, check the FAQ section of dead50.net for information on how to obtain a partial refund. However, all requests for partial refunds must be received by Monday, July 20th to be eligible.

These refund offers apply to all GDTS TOO mail order ticket purchasers who received seats in a different section than what was shown in the initial seating chart or were charged more than the price of such tickets on the seating chart made available at the time their orders were mailed.

Please understand that we did what we did in order to enable as many of you as possible to have your ticket requests fulfilled. 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.

Statements just seem vain at last,

Peter Shapiro
Mike Luba & Don Sullivan (Madison House Presents)
Promoters, “Fare Thee Well”

Peter Shapiro’s statement on Fare Thee Well