The Nationals and Orioles had great seasons. They each made the playoffs for the first time in years – in the Nationals’ case, for the first time since moving to Washington. They had the types of seasons that energize fanbases – and now, both franchies are going about alienating many of those same people who were feeling the best about their fandom they have in years.
Because while both franchises had great seasons, neither had a season quite great enough to advance to the LCS. Many fans, though, bought LCS tickets in advance, when the teams’ fates were still up in the air. This is common practice, so fans can get tickets (and teams can sell all their tickets) comfortably in advance of the actual games. When the teams lost, their money for those tickets was refunded. No big deal, right? Well, it wouldn’t be… except that not quite all that money was refunded.
Washington Nationals fans who bought tickets for the National League Championship Series that never happened will have to swallow a slightly less-bitter pill — a $6 per order service charge.
Some Orioles fans who purchased playoff tickets for games that never occurred have complained about the lack of refunds for a $6-per-order service charge from Ticketmaster.
One thing that should be noted: this policy was outlined beforehand:
Both the Nationals and Orioles online sites specify that while refunds for games not played would include the ticket price and convenience fee, “all other fees are non-refundable.”
So there was information to let the fans know what they were getting into. BUT: that doesn’t mean that what the fans were getting into wasn’t a load of complete crap to begin with. Why would a $6 “service charge” on any tickets – tickets that, as Deadspin noted, are in many cases received as attachments to an email (big distribution cost to the ticket companies on those) – need to exist to begin with? $6 per order doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but added up, we’re talking many, many thousands of dollars in both teams’ cases. Is that really necessary to cover costs on tickets for nonexistent games?
This all has happened before, and hasn’t always worked out to teams’ benefit:
After the 2002 playoffs… the New York Office of the Attorney General pressed the Yankees to refund 90 percent of the revenue from service charges on tickets for games that were never played. The Yankees initially declined to refund the service charges.
…and based on it happening with both the Orioles and Nats this year, it’ll happen again. Which is too bad. Even if enough of a commotion is raised that refunds are handed out in these cases, too, it doesn’t stop the ticket surcharge racket. Ticket companies and teams can warn customers in advance to protect themselves legally, and say “Told you so” when customers wonder why they’re not getting all their money back. They can do that, and if you buy the ticket, you ought to be aware of what you would and wouldn’t get refunded. But informing customers of a bullshit policy doesn’t mean it’s not a bullshit policy.