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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Orioles and Nationals not refunding $6 service charge for playoff games that were never played

If you were lucky enough to have an opportunity to purchase ALCS or NLCS tickets for the Orioles or Nationals, it was disappointing that your team’s season came to an end in the divisional round. The only plus is that it saved Washington and Baltimore fans some money, as they received a full refund once their teams lost. Or did they? Not exactly.

The Baltimore Sun reported on Tuesday that Orioles fans were not given a refund for their $6 service fee that went along with purchasing ALCS playoff tickets through Ticketmaster. WTOP in Washington said on Wednesday that the same is true for Nationals fans. Some teams provide full refunds while others do not return the cost of shipping and processing.

In an email to the Sun, Orioles spokesman Greg Bader explained that there are “significant” costs that go along with printing and shipping tickets for games even if they aren’t played and that the $6 fee helps offset those costs. As Deadspin pointed out, a $6 service charge per ticket would net teams roughly $500,000 for a series of games that never existed.

In 2002, the Yankees were forced to refund 90% of the revenue they took in from service fees on tickets to unplayed games. The New York Office of the Attorney General determined that 10% of the money was sufficient to cover their costs.

While I don’t doubt there are fees associated with printing and distributing tickets, isn’t that part of a team’s basic operating costs as a business? Someone has to cover the cost of the team being eliminated, but why should it be fans who bought tickets to games that never took place? The¬†product — or in this case the team — didn’t do what it was supposed to do. The consumer shouldn’t have to pay when that happens.



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