January 3, 2017 Darnell Goldson
It’s a story we hear all too often in the ticketing industry; a customer is “duped into buying” overpriced tickets to a show from a secondary market vendor, subsequently does not receive those tickets, and is then forced to make another purchase from a “legitimate” ticket seller.
According to December 26 and December 27 news articles, Anne Milograno of upstate New York was “duped” into purchasing four $30 tickets for “nearly” $400 to a Jay Leno show, and when the tickets did not arrive by show time, she was forced to purchase a second set of tickets, a “double whammy” she is quoted as saying by the Observer-Dispatch.
When the renowned comedian Jay Leno heard about this fan’s dilemma, he jumped into action and personally called Mrs. Milograno to offer her four tickets and backstage passes for the next time he was performing in the area. Stated Leno, “So I just want to give her some tickets, maybe if she wants to bring some friends, I can give her a set of four…whatever I can do.”
A feel good story with a villain (the ticket seller), victim (Mrs. Milograno), and of course, our hero (Mr. Leno). In the end, the hero saved the day. Great ending, right?
The only problem was that once we gathered all the facts, it appears that the story’s victim was really never a victim, the villain wasn’t a villain, and it appears that the hero may have ended up being the victim. Or maybe the villain was the victim. If so, then who was the villain?
When we investigated this case, we reached out to the ticket seller (the originally identified villain) to get their side of the story. It appears that they were never contacted by the original reporter for the Observer-Dispatch articles. Their telling of the story is very different from the version told by Mrs. Milograno and the reporter, and they provided written documentation to prove their case. Let’s review the differences in the two tales.
The Price Paid
Milograno/reporter story – the customer paid nearly $400 for 4 tickets for the show, which had an original face value of $30 per ticket.
Ticket Seller Story – the customer was charged $329 for four tickets, well below the $400 cited by the reporter. Further, the reporter’s newspaper in an earlier article listed ticket prices at $49, $44 and $39, without the fees added by the box office, well above the $30 cited.
Milograno/reporter story – the customer never received the tickets.
Ticket Seller Story – a link for the tickets was uploaded to the customer’s email address on March 9, the day before the March 10th show.
Milograno/reporter story – “’I was surprised at how authentic everything looked,’ Miligrano said, now months later and understanding she got duped by a third-party vendor. ‘I truly thought I was on the Turning Stone website. You have to really be careful.’”
Ticket Seller Story – the customer was very familiar with purchasing from ticket brokers, she and/or members of her family had purchased from brokers four times, once in 2009, twice in 2013, and of course this purchase.
The Double Whammy
Milograno/reporter story – the tickets “never came”, forcing the customer to purchase another set of tickets, essentially being charged twice.
Ticket Seller Story – the customer called to inquire about the tickets on March 8 at 11:22 AM, and again on March 9 at 9:21 AM. The customer was sent an email with instructions on how to download on March 9, at 11:20 PM, the night before the March 10 show. The customer never downloaded the tickets and eventually tried to contest the charges with her credit card company. The ticket seller proved their case to the credit card company and the customer was forced to pay for the tickets she ordered and never used.
The “Terror” of Third Party Vendors
Milograno/reporter story – Third-party theater vendors are a “’terror’ on local community,” by overcharging for tickets and not delivering.
Ticket Seller Story – we spoke with several ticket exchanges to get an idea of the cost for the Leno show that evening. We found that the average ticket prices sold on other exchanges varied between $67-$79. This ticket seller was selling tickets at $64, below the average of other sellers.
We reached out to Mrs. Milograno to get a firsthand account of her story. She is a board member of the Broadway Theatre League of Utica, a fact which was conveniently left out of the articles. She also mentioned that her husband sometimes buys from StubHub, she is no stranger to the ticketing industry. She said that she did not want to appear to suggest that the broker was scamming her, but since she received the link for the ticket download the night before the show, she felt “very uncomfortable” and “didn’t think they would come through” with the tickets. She made the decision to purchase a new batch.
Clearly the facts do not match the narrative. It appears that the reporter for the original story did a sloppy job of researching the story and gathering the facts. Or perhaps there was another agenda to be pushed, which was so successfully recently used by US Senator Chuck Schumer, and the Hamilton producers Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeffrey Seller, which is the popular yet unproven version that paints the ticket broker as a creepy “terrorist” out to rip off unsuspecting victims. When we called the reporter to question her on the “facts” in the article, she stated that “you can ask Mrs. Milogrando, I’m not going to write your story for you. What is this all about?” When we answered it was about getting to the truth, she suggested that we “have a good day” before hanging up.
The facts did not equal the narrative in this story. The tickets prices she was offered were not greatly overpriced, in fact they were below the average cost on the secondary market; the tickets were delivered to the customer, though a little later than originally stated; the customer was denied a chargeback (refund) by her own credit card company, since the ticket seller fulfilled their end of the bargain and delivered the tickets as promised; and the customer was a sophisticated secondary market purchaser, she and her family previously have made multiple transactions on the secondary market.
Out of all of the customers who attended this and other shows hosted by Broadway Utica and the Turning Stone Resort Casino, how is it that the article quotes just one person who was allegedly “scammed” by ticket resellers? How is it that one person, Mrs. Milograno, also happens to be a member of Broadway Utica, a producer of these shows, with a natural inclination to be opposed to ticket resellers? Why didn’t Milograno nor the reporter inform the readers, and Mr. Leno, of that pertinent fact? Why wasn’t the ticket reseller contacted to get their side of the story? Someone with a conspiratorial inclined mindset could very well believe this to be a “set-up” between Broadway Utica and the reporter to damage the competition (ticket resellers) in the market.
The victims in this whole affair? The ticket seller, whose reputation was tarnished by the apparent misrepresentations written in the article, and of course Jay Leno, who was fooled into believing that someone was conned out of their money for his show. Will Milograno decline the offer for free tickets? Will Jay Leno rescind his offer? Will the Observer-Dispatch correct their story?