Excerpt from Boswell's online chat today:
Q: DC season tickets
The Capitals and Wizards have announced their plan for season ticketholders. The Capitals and Wizards informed season ticketholders that they are keeping all money paid for 2019-20, but crediting money paid for unplayed games toward 2020-21 payments. Monumental is also applying a bonus credit equal to 3% of the credit for the unplayed games. What are your thoughts on this? Have you heard anything about what the Nats plan to do? So far, the Nats have suspended April payments until July. I assume the Redskins will wait to do anything until closer to August, if necessary.
A: Thomas Boswell
This is simple. And applies to all teams.
There is only one ethical stand-up policy.
Many people who have season tickets --or season tickets which they split up with a whole bun ch of other other people in a group (like me and my wife w Nats tickets)-- do NOT need money right now. They are OK.
Well, those people --like me-- are totally IRRELEVANT.
Because, on the other side of the coin, there are people --and I've been getting e-mails from them-- who DO NEED MONEY and they need it NOW. They are out of work. Or they have sick family members who need financial help. Or they are super-fans who regard their sports tickets as, perhaps, their No. 1 Entertainmemt Expense BY FAR but, in a pandemic, they just can't AFFORD it any more.
THOSE people should ALL get refunds for 100% of canceled games IF THEY REQUEST IT. And there should be an easily accessible way --posted on the team's web sight, as well as other means on communication (e-mail, even "mail")== that explains how you get that refund.
Teams don't HAVE to do this. I suppose, legally, MAYBE they can just "roll out" the money you sent them for tickets into the future and try to make you happy by including some "discount" on future tickets that you get with the money they are keeping in their sticky hands.
But, during a pandemic, this is AWFUL policy. Everybody is re-evaluating how they live, how they spend, how financially sound they are and where they want to reduce future expenses.
Plenty of people don't give a damn right now about some ticket in '21 --or whether they get a 3% discount (or a 20% discount in the case of some MLB teams) in the future.
They need their money back NOW. I have so sad e-mails from good fans telling me the specific reason that they want their refund money for games that have already been canceled.
The team that may get clobbered on this first is the Nats. USA Today ran a story more than a week ago about how 29 or 30 MLB teams at least had made some public statement on how they would handle games that have already been canceled. Almost all the teams make a big pitch about how to get "apply" the money to future games with some "sweetener" attached --some as much a 30% kicker to induce you to let them keep your money. But ALL of them, somewhere, even if it is just a phone number to call for more info, have a way to find out How Do I Get My Money Back?
The only team that, at least as orf yesterday, still had made no such statement was the Nationals.
The Mets explanation to their fans ran more than 1,00 words. TRhe Nats have indicated that their policy will be coming soon. Well, I have seen it yet. GET MOVING.
I won't comment in depth on the Wiz and Caps because I haven't studied their policies yet. Dear Chatter, if your description of the Monumental policy is correct, they my first impression is that I don't like it.
I understand the rationale --it's like a "rain check" for a canceled game. You paid for a ticket. The team got the money and it is not giving it back. You can use the raincheck for a future game.
Well, we aren't in a rain storm right now, we are in a death and suffering storm. If big-time pro sports think that this is "business as usual" they are going to have a shock.
The new policy for every team better be simple: ACT RIGHT.
And the only way to act right is to refund money for any canceled games to the fans who say they want a refund. No explanation required.
In a sense, I wrote an entire column about this last week. The ecosystem of sports in changing after this natural disaster. The fans better not remain at the bottom of the food chain --or they may not come back in the same numbers post-pandemic. And maybe not ever.
If you want them back, you BETTER act right now. Some people NEED that refund money to pay bills, or rent, TODAY. Billionaire owners need to get that through their heads.