I’ve never had the urge to attend an autograph signing, but I’m assuming and hoping that anyone who does immediately regrets their decision. You just can’t get those hours of your life back, and you leave with the same scribbled signature as hundreds of other time-wasters. But maybe I’m just getting old and cynical, because regularly there are long lines for these events.
One particular signing event in Baltimore last Saturday wasn’t just your typical grin and grab with some quick ink. A handful of prominent Ravens players volunteered their time to sign autographs for the Red Cross, with all proceeds going to the relief efforts after the tsunami and earthquake in Japan. Fans paid $50 to attend the three-hour event that raised over $60,000.
Now, some of them want their money back.
A few of the most popular players at the event–Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and Ed Reed–left early, causing enough grumbling amongst fans desperate for their precious squiggly-lined signature that they’ve asked for their money back.
This isn’t just a refund. This is money being pulled back from a disaster area.
Linnea Anderson, the public relations director for the Red Cross of Central Maryland, told Ravens Insider that they’re aware of the complaints. She also said those who paid the fee were aware of another important fact: they were at a charity event.
“If people didn’t want to make a contribution to the Red Cross and they felt there was some misrepresentation, we will give them a refund if they have proof. If they were not interested in making a donation and were just making a fee for purchase, we’re sorry that happened. We thought people understood that this was money going to a charity. Our motto at the Red Cross is to satisfy donor intent.”
Doug Lent, another public relations representative, expressed similar disappointment.
“Our hope is people will entrust us with those donations and not want their money back because it’s going to help real people.”
Safety Haruki Nakamura and cornerback Chris Carr stayed until the end. Nakamura organized the event, but Red Cross officials provided the volunteers and man power. They’ve given those who are upset a hotline to call if they want a refund, and all that’s required is proof of their donation.
Flacco, Rice, and Reed will be slapped with the stereotype of the ungrateful athlete after leaving early, which is criticism they’ve certainly earned. But the fans hurling insults at the players have little merit to their claims of selfishness when they’re hauling back money from a ravaged area and a well-known organization.