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Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Nationals And Orioles Are Not Refunding The “Service Charge” On Playoff Tickets For Games That Don’t Exist

And to think, Smithers, you laughed when I bought Ticketmaster. “Nobody’s going to pay a 100% service charge!”

There is some cognitive dissonance in purchasing tickets for a round of the playoffs that your team has no guarantees of even advancing to. The presale is a must, of course—the teams need time to sell out, and ticketholders would probably like to know more than a day or two in advance if they’re going to a game. But beyond the fear of a jinx (every time I’ve won the lottery for the chance to buy World Series tickets, my team has bowed out in the ALCS) is a social contract. I promise to pay you for these tickets if these games actually happen. You promise not to charge me if they don’t.

The Nationals and Orioles, each of whom went the distance in their division series and lost (the Nats in particularly heartbreaking fashion), had league championship series presales. So they’re refunding their fans for the face value of those seats, but they’re not refunding the $6 “service charge” that was tacked on to each order.

Some back-of-the-envelope math. Nationals Park’s playoff capacity is about 45,000, and Camden Yards’ is near 48,000. Multiply by four LCS home games for Washington, three for the Orioles. Assume two tickets per order. Each team just pocketed roughly $500,000 of their fans’ money.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 18, 2012 at 01:34 PM | 60 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals, orioles, playoffs, rip-off

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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4275480)
That's shitty.
   2. TomH Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4275487)
I almost bought Nationals game 5 tix, and only deferred because I failed to find someone to go to the game with me.
Now that I know the above, I'm glad I did not. Good luck getting me to try to do it next year, guys.
   3. AROM Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4275489)
That's a good way to encourage fans not to turn winning seasons into a sustained attendance boost.
   4. Chris Needham Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4275494)
This is pretty standard for Ticketmaster/Tickets.com. It's not the team doing it.
   5. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4275495)
Big-league sports franchises are little better than grifters at this point. It just never ends.
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4275500)
This is pretty standard for Ticketmaster/Tickets.com. It's not the team doing it.
It's the team not offering a refund.
   7. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4275507)
That is pretty shitty.

I think the back of the envelope math is equally horrible. To get to "roughly $500,000" you have to assume that every single ticket was sold as a pair of tickets as part of an individual sale. I imagine many people bought 3 or 4 tickets (let's assume a 4 ticket limit) and many people probably bought tickets to multiple games. Are ticket fees charged per game or per sale? Season ticket holders probably didn't have to pay a service charge and those are going to be for all four (or three) games, not for individual games.

So let's use the Orioles as an example. The writer is assuming 72,000 distinct sales events. I don't know how many season ticket holders there are in Baltimore, I'll guess 16,000 to make life easy. That leaves 32,000 seats and I think an average of 4 tickets/sale, not 2 is probably more reflective of what actually happened (either by virtue of people buying 4 tickets to a single game or 2 tickets to 2 different games).

Maybe some of my assumptions are wrong but that gets me to 24,000 distinct sales events and about $144,000 in the Orioles' pockets, not "nearly $500,000."

I'm no fan of how big business conducts itself in general but there IS a cost to generating the tickets, processing the orders and shipping them out. I suspect it is well south of $6/order but this doesn't sound terribly unreasonable to me either.

EDIT: If I'm the team I give the money back. The $144,000 is probably a reasonable goodwill cost to spend. Both clubs are probably raising ticket prices next year, they'll get their money back.
   8. Chris Needham Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:25 PM (#4275510)
[6] We're both half right, half wrong.
   9. Dave Spiwak Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:40 PM (#4275526)
Hate to sound like Mitt Romney's actuary here, but there's not much of an incentive for the Nats and O's to do anything different if they're making a tidy profit and only offending a small segment of their fan-base, most of whom are fickle consumers like me whose momentary outrage will have long since been forgotten come next time these teams sniff the playoffs.

Plus, you can back-of-the-envelope this one all you want, but in reality how many of those seats were sold directly to fans? I bet a ton were unloaded on brokerages and other mass-buyers.

(I know that in spring training, some teams sell their tickets to brokers at bulk discounts. The brokers then turn around and sell the tickets outside the stadium for more than face value if the market allows. In effect, fans never even have the opportunity to buy tickets at "face value" from the club, since those seats never really go on sale to the general public. Tickets should probably bear the price label of "Market Rate" instead of a set dollar amount. Of course, the teams are happy because they sell-out the stadium well in advance and don't have to keep their fingers crossed that they'll make money on walk-ups, since the brokers are now taking the risk on walk-ups. Sleazy or not? You decide.)

Sure, this might be bad PR, but these teams know the bad publicity will die off long before they file next year's tax returns.
   10. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4275527)
That link in #8 says this:

The Orioles will keep some of the revenue from the service charge to defray costs, Bader said. Policies vary from club to club, with the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers joining the Orioles in not offering refunds for processing and shipping charges. Other clubs such as the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals offer full refunds for the purchase price of the tickets.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4275528)

Sure, this might be bad PR, but these teams know the bad publicity will die off long before they file next year's tax returns.


The bad PR easily outweighs the profit they are making off of it. I think Jose in #7 is probably right, but even assuming at most they make $500k, which is really a pittance for a team making millions.

Other clubs such as the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals offer full refunds for the purchase price of the tickets.


The link in the Deadspin story is this article:

Fans who purchased tickets online for the NLCS are being reimbursed for the face value of the ticket, as well as the per ticket convenience fee charged by Tickets.com.

They won't get back the $6 per order processing fee.

A team spokesperson says the costs involved with printing and mailing tickets are non-refundable.

The Nats policy is similar to that of the Orioles, whose online tickets are handled by Ticketmaster.


   12. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4275546)
Send Storen the bill.
   13. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: October 18, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4275547)
A team spokesperson says the costs involved with printing and mailing tickets are non-refundable.

You know what else those costs are not? They're not six dollars worth of expenses either.

This is Mickey Mouse nonsense.
   14. puck Posted: October 18, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4275564)
When the Rockies made the playoffs in 2009, the Rockies did not refund the "order charge" for NLCS tickets, which for me was $3.50 for 4 seats. They did refund the Ticketmaster fee, which was $21 per seat. I did not think to get upset about the $3.50, since I was probably happy about not having to pay the Ticketmaster fee.
   15. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: October 18, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4275567)
Other clubs such as the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals offer full refunds for the purchase price of the tickets.


The Yankees give and give and give, and what thanks do they get from the "takers"?
   16. JJ1986 Posted: October 18, 2012 at 03:23 PM (#4275568)
what thanks do they get from the "takers"?


A slightly used Heath Bell?
   17. bunyon Posted: October 18, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4275572)
This is

a) a despicable policy

and

b) pretty common.
   18. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 18, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4275577)
A team spokesperson says the costs involved with printing and mailing tickets are non-refundable.


Were any of the tickets available electronically?
Like those ones we saw where they scanned the barcode on your iphone?
   19. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 18, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4275579)
I'm no fan of how big business conducts itself in general but there IS a cost to generating the tickets, processing the orders and shipping them out. I suspect it is well south of $6/order but this doesn't sound terribly unreasonable to me either.
A cost to doing those things? No, there's a benefit to the team from doing those things: it's called "sales." The cost of making sales is called "overhead," and is built into the price. That's like a department store adding a surcharge to compensate themselves for the cost of buying cash registers.
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 18, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4275584)

Were any of the tickets available electronically?


I didn't even know they mailed physical tickets anymore. I can't remember the last time I had tickets I didn't print out myself.
   21. Chris Needham Posted: October 18, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4275591)
Season ticket holders got mailed nice tickets on fancy stock.

My NLDS tickets were printed generic MLB posteason stock.

Pretty much any NLCS tickets and NLDS tix bought in the last week or so were print-at-home only.
   22. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: October 18, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4275610)
Don't worry, the Nationals announced that they will defer the fees to cover the processing charges for the next few years in Mike Rizzo's window.
   23. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 18, 2012 at 04:09 PM (#4275622)
A cost to doing those things? No, there's a benefit to the team from doing those things: it's called "sales." The cost of making sales is called "overhead," and is built into the price. That's like a department store adding a surcharge to compensate themselves for the cost of buying cash registers.


Yeah, that was stupid on my part.
   24. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: October 18, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4275625)
I just have a problem with people paying for something when they receive _nothing_.

The unrefundable surcharge has nothing to do with covering costs, it's simply "beacuse they can" as Dave Spiwak pointed out. I think it's a lousy way of doing business, but I guess that's one reason (of many) why they're wealthy and I'm not.
   25. Just a Guy Posted: October 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM (#4275630)
#Nattitude !
   26. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: October 18, 2012 at 04:37 PM (#4275668)
I bought my NLCS tickets from stubhub...never even actually got charged
   27. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4275695)
So the teams should sell the tickets and refund them at a loss for the team?

How do you know there were no costs to recover?

   28. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 18, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4275705)
I just have a problem with people paying for something when they receive _nothing_.

They received ticket stubs that they can sell on eBay in a decade.
   29. jmurph Posted: October 18, 2012 at 05:06 PM (#4275724)
A cost to doing those things? No, there's a benefit to the team from doing those things: it's called "sales." The cost of making sales is called "overhead," and is built into the price. That's like a department store adding a surcharge to compensate themselves for the cost of buying cash registers.


I've always wondered about the logic of transparent fee structures. Was this the terrible result of a lawsuit or something? Like with airlines: why not just add $5 on to everyone's tickets for food and not tell us about it, rather than annoy me by asking me to pay the $5 on the plane? Seems like that would result in more money and less unhappiness.

EDIT: In other words, the cost of attending a game is $34, or whatever. I don't really care how much of that goes to the vendor and how much goes to the team until they start telling me how much goes to the vendor and how much goes to the team.
   30. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 18, 2012 at 05:09 PM (#4275730)
Like with airlines: why not just add $5 on to everyone's tickets for food and not tell us about it, rather than annoy me by asking me to pay the $5 on the plane? Seems like that would result in more money and less unhappiness.


I'm pretty sure that with airlines the ticket is taxable, ancillary costs are not. That's why they love the baggage fees.
   31. jmurph Posted: October 18, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4275737)
I'm pretty sure that with airlines the ticket is taxable, ancillary costs are not. That's why they love the baggage fees.


Ahh, genius. That would explain it.
   32. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: October 18, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4275745)
So the teams should sell the tickets and refund them at a loss for the team?

How do you know there were no costs to recover?

That's not what I said. There's costs to everything. There's costs to opening up the offices for the day. But those costs have nothing to do with fee pricing on tickets. The pricing has to do with whether they can get away with it or not. They apparently can.

And it's not a loss. They're refunding the money the people paid, not the money plus 5%. That there were costs in providing the tickets is a pointless argument. There's costs in the customers going through the trouble of trying to return the tickets too, you don't see them suing for $6 a ticket to cover those costs.
   33. zonk Posted: October 18, 2012 at 05:24 PM (#4275756)
We live in a fee-based economy...

If Furtado wouldn't keep threatening me for trying to do so, I would be taking a nickel out of all your paypal accounts just for reading this.

I flew Spirit air last week for the first time -- knew the deal with how they operate, read all the fine print, thought I did everything right... and still ended up forking over an extra $70 on top of what I got my ticket for (carry on bags, which I expected -- but they screwed me on check-in... you can pick your seats for $20+ -- or -- just let them pick... I didn't care, but apparently on checkin, the website defaults to select a seat and they wouldn't undo the fee).

   34. Dave Spiwak Posted: October 18, 2012 at 05:31 PM (#4275769)
I just have a problem with people paying for something when they receive _nothing_.

They received ticket stubs that they can sell on eBay in a decade.


In ten years, I don't think anyone will pay anyone $6 for an easily duplicated 10-year-old PDF of a "ticket" that is otherwise identical to every other electronic ticket except for a unique bar code -- and to a game that never happened.

But I don't know. Maybe there is a big market right now for unused game 1 stubs to the 2002 NLCS between the Braves and D-Backs.
   35. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: October 18, 2012 at 05:52 PM (#4275822)
We live in a fee-based economy...

Right, but part of that is our own fault and part of it is government and tax regulations. For some reason we have it in our heads that if a company charges a fee with an explanation that it's to pay for some sort of service we're getting, we are more accepting of it than if they just rolled it into the general price. The cost isn't any different to us, and the object is the same in both cases for the company, but somehow we convince ourselves there's a difference when there is none.

Under normal circumstances, I would not do business again with a company who did to me what the teams did in this instance. But also, in this instance, they are the only games in town when it comes to baseball which helps prevent the customer flight that would surely arise in a more competitive industry. They're doing it because it's legal and they can get away with doing it. But don't ask me to agree with it.

   36. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: October 18, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4275839)
A man orders a quarter pounder with cheese at McDonald's. He takes one bite and it's rancid and has multiple hairs in it. He storms to the counter.

"I want my $1.79 back, this burger is rancid and inedible"

"Okay sir no problem, we apologize for that. Here's your $1.69."

"$1.69? Where's the other ten cents?"

"Well the burger was bad, but as far as I can tell the wrapper was fine. So you can keep that and I deducted the ten cents for the wrapper."

"I didn't pay you for the damn wrapper, I wanted the burger."

"I realize that sir, but there are costs associated with that wrapper. We need to pay our distributors, store the paper, I need to spend a little bit of time wrapping up your burger, time that could have been spent serving another customer. These costs add up and so we have to charge for the wrapper."

--

Now, should the guy say:

a) "What are you out of your god damned mind? Give me my dime back."

or

b) "Well I guess it makes sense when you put it that way."
   37. zonk Posted: October 18, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4275842)

Right, but part of that is our own fault and part of it is government and tax regulations. For some reason we have it in our heads that if a company charges a fee with an explanation that it's to pay for some sort of service we're getting, we are more accepting of it than if they just rolled it into the general price. The cost isn't any different to us, and the object is the same in both cases for the company, but somehow we convince ourselves there's a difference when there is none.

Under normal circumstances, I would not do business again with a company who did to me what the teams did in this instance. But also, in this instance, they are the only games in town when it comes to baseball which helps prevent the customer flight that would surely arise in a more competitive industry. They're doing it because it's legal and they can get away with doing it. But don't ask me to agree with it.


I don't agree with it, either --

My stepmother, who's one of those types that pores over every last piece of fine print for everything from cupcakes to airfare -- loves crap like this.

Me, I've taught myself to do it -- I'm very, very careful to read every last communication I get from banks, airlines, etc -- but I hate it.

Some people like spending oodles of time being expert consumers... me - I'd rather have the time and just be a moderately sophisticated consumer. Unfortunately, in industries where feegasms have taken up root, you have no choice -- there are just absolutely no options anymore in a lot of places where you can just settle on paying a modest premium in exchange for not going blind with fine print.

Airlines and all areas of finance are the worst... but I'm quite certain that it's only a matter of time before we see things like, say, restaurants charging a tap water fee if you don't remember to tell the hostess you won't be needing water, or silverware fees if you don't choose only meal-appropriate silverware.

   38. BDC Posted: October 18, 2012 at 06:02 PM (#4275844)
carry on bags, which I expected

Spirit is funny about that; they charge you if you intend to stow carry-on bags, but then don't check to see if you've paid the charge. I reckon experienced Spirit travelers just ignore the charge.

StubHub happily refunded everything associated with my {sob} Rangers ALDS and World Series tickets. Of course nothing physical or even virtual ever changed hands, and the original purchasers may well have been stuck with a nonrefundable fee for all I know.
   39. zonk Posted: October 18, 2012 at 06:07 PM (#4275860)
Spirit is funny about that; they charge you if you intend to stow carry-on bags, but then don't check to see if you've paid the charge. I reckon experienced Spirit travelers just ignore the charge.


Yeah - that's what I discovered... I think they rope in new Spirit travelers by splashing all over the online check-in that you can save $10 in carry-on fees by buying them prior to arrival... so I did... and no one looked at my ticket to see if I bought bags or anything like that.

I'm not sure I'll do Spirit again - but if I do - I think I'm going to gamble.
   40. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: October 18, 2012 at 06:09 PM (#4275864)
Airlines and all areas of finance are the worst... but I'm quite certain that it's only a matter of time before we see things like, say, restaurants charging a tap water fee if you don't remember to tell the hostess you won't be needing water, or silverware fees if you don't choose only meal-appropriate silverware.

But the brake on that is that with restaurants you can always go to a different restaurant with a different policy. Almost nobody wants to put up with that nonsense.

Now if the government were to start charging high taxes on the costs of meals but would leave water and silverware fees untaxed, you'd see the change almost instantly.
   41. zonk Posted: October 18, 2012 at 06:12 PM (#4275875)
But the brake on that is that with restaurants you can always go to a different restaurant with a different policy. Almost nobody wants to put up with that nonsense.


Once upon a time, you had that choice with banks and airlines, too... I suppose there's still Southwest on the airline side.
   42. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 18, 2012 at 06:18 PM (#4275889)
Like with airlines: why not just add $5 on to everyone's tickets for food and not tell us about it, rather than annoy me by asking me to pay the $5 on the plane? Seems like that would result in more money and less unhappiness.


Well, that's the way they used to operate for years, decades. Then, history's greatest monster deregulated the industry, and a whole bunch of upstarts came in, didn't offer the services, and charged less. Passengers then voted with their feet and picked the airline with the lowest published fare. Time was you could fly from LAX to MIA nonstop with assigned seats and 2 meals for X fare. But then Southwest offered the same route, albeit with 2 stopovers, no meals, and first come, first served seating, for $30 less, and people flocked to it. The legacy carriers had to follow suit to compete, and thus here we are.
   43. Poster Nutbag Posted: October 18, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4275918)
So the teams should sell the tickets and refund them at a loss for the team?

How do you know there were no costs to recover?


A loud and emphatic YES.

No matter to me what costs they incurred by trying to sell tickets to something that was not even guaranteed to take place. they wanted to jump early to make good money. Just because their plan failed, does NOT mean the fan should incur the cost so that the company loses nothing. The company took the gamble and should incur the cost. Back when I took basic HS Econ, that was what we referred to as "the cost of doing business", just exactly when did things change and businesses become entitled to making the consumer pay for their failed investments/ideas?

Also, I like the "cash register" analogy above, fits well.
   44. Sunday silence Posted: October 18, 2012 at 07:13 PM (#4275950)
show of hands; how many of you work for non profits and/or communist organizations and how many work for capitalist entities?

It should also be pointed out that playoff games, and any sort of performance really are non fungible things. Being first in line etc. actually means something to people who go to these events. So the hamburger analogy, is quite flawed.

To use analogies you might want to argue about purchasing a DVD to be made about a future series or future game. One can understand how a full refund might be obtained for a DVD about the series that would be just as good as any other DVD, ie. it is a fungible good. Having a seat at a big game is not fungible, there's nothing that replaces it.

We dont live in a communist society folks, maybe they give full refunds in Cuba or somewhere.
   45. Poster Nutbag Posted: October 18, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4275952)
#44 - Where does Gov't lie in those two? Am I working for a capitalist entity or a communist organization? ;-)
   46. Poster Nutbag Posted: October 18, 2012 at 07:24 PM (#4275962)
#44 - Actually, the harder I try to follow your argument, the more it seems to fall apart. Why is the company entitled to it's refund then? Why are they entitled to make their money back by way of the consumer? Also, one assumes a "service charge" would be a charge that covers a service, since no event took place, there is no service being provided. I can't follow your DVD analogy either, as it actually fits worse than most presented.
   47. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: October 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM (#4275970)
show of hands; how many of you work for non profits and/or communist organizations and how many work for capitalist entities?

The Nationals and Orioles effectively do. It's at least partly because of the lack of capitalistic competition that they can get away with not giving you your money back.

No one is saying they can't do this, we're saying they're jerks for doing this. Telling people to bend over and take it or else they're "commies" is dumb.
   48. cardsfanboy Posted: October 18, 2012 at 08:51 PM (#4276084)
I didn't even know they mailed physical tickets anymore. I can't remember the last time I had tickets I didn't print out myself.


UGHH... I would hate that, I keep all my tickets, and a printout is not the same thing. Sure I use a printed ticked for the train, but that is something different. I would never want a self printed ticket for an event.
   49. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: October 18, 2012 at 11:42 PM (#4276320)
...just exactly when did things change and businesses become entitled to making the consumer pay for their failed investments/ideas?

I refer the right honorable gentleman to the economic unpleasantness that occurred around Autumn 2008 and thereafter. Lehman Bros., J.P. Morgan, et al
   50. McCoy Posted: October 18, 2012 at 11:52 PM (#4276323)
The service they are providing you is the opportunity to buy a ticket to a game that might be played at a future date for face value. Think of it as futures trading.

Instead of saying to you and everyone else that tickets for this game will go on sale only when they know a game will actually be played they are allowing you to purchase tickets ahead of time. That's a service.
   51. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 19, 2012 at 12:42 AM (#4276352)
Time was you could fly from LAX to MIA nonstop with assigned seats and 2 meals for X fare. But then Southwest offered the same route, albeit with 2 stopovers, no meals, and first come, first served seating, for $30 less, and people flocked to it.

The pre-deregulation fares were considerably higher - enough that many couldn't afford to fly. I'm not a big fan of being in a flying sardine container but the old days weren't that great unless money was no problem.
   52. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: October 19, 2012 at 08:28 AM (#4276407)
The pre-deregulation fares were considerably higher - enough that many couldn't afford to fly. I'm not a big fan of being in a flying sardine container but the old days weren't that great unless money was no problem.


My point is, start up cheapie airlines started cutting out services and charging less, and people flocked to them. The majors had to follow suit to compete, but since they also had business and premium passengers who still wanted those services, they came up with the model that offered competitive fares and ala carte services. And so the cheapies got even cheaper and started charging for even basic services. And now the people who caused this change are the ones complaining about being nickle and dimed on services.

People fly Spirit Air for $9 one way and complain about all the add on charges. It is to laugh.
   53. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 19, 2012 at 09:01 AM (#4276422)
A man orders a quarter pounder with cheese at McDonald's. He takes one bite and it's rancid and has multiple hairs in it. He storms to the counter.


At least in your scenario the customer gets a burger. This is more like:

Customer: I'd like a Big Mac please.
McDonald's: That'll be $1.69.
Customer: Great (pays money).
McDonald's: Ooh, I just forgot, we are all out of meat. I'd be happy to offer you a refund though.
Customer: Oh, ok.
McDonald's: Here's your $1.59 back.
Customer: But its $1.69.
McDonald's: Yes, but I handled your transaction!
   54. musial6 Posted: October 19, 2012 at 09:01 AM (#4276423)
My freshman econ prof boasted about how he bought tickets to game 6 of the World Series, but recognized he'd be eating the $9 service charge if they didn't make it.

That was in 1999, and the team was the Reds. That's right, a team that had yet to even qualify for the postseason proper had put World Series tickets onsale to the general public with non-refundable service charges.

This is a scam that's been going on for a long time.

The Cardinals have sent out playoff ticket applications to season ticket holders every year since 2000 - incl 2003, 2007, 2008, and 2010 seasons when they failed to qualify. There's always a fixed non-refundable service charge for the entire package (that seems to rise marginally each year, $35 last year - $36 this year).

That's the cost of doing business.
   55. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 19, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4276603)
My point is, start up cheapie airlines started cutting out services and charging less, and people flocked to them. The majors had to follow suit to compete, but since they also had business and premium passengers who still wanted those services, they came up with the model that offered competitive fares and ala carte services. And so the cheapies got even cheaper and started charging for even basic services. And now the people who caused this change are the ones complaining about being nickle and dimed on services.


I don't know about cheap/non-cheap major/minor airlines, they all seem pretty terrible to me, but I am fairly certain for a large number of consumers it's all about the lowest initial purchase price. Everything else, seat comfort, time of day, baggage fees, service, etc, has proven to not ultimately matter. Can't find the analysis of the buying habits, but I believe this greatly influenced the low price, then add fee model that exists today.
   56. BDC Posted: October 19, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4276629)
I am fairly certain for a large number of consumers it's all about the lowest initial purchase price. Everything else, seat comfort, time of day, baggage fees, service, etc, has proven to not ultimately matter

It's interesting – what matters is what happens on aggregate, and one can see why the base ticket price wins out on aggregate. I've flown a great deal in the past decade, and as a frequent commuter with limited time to mess around going by way of Kansas City, I often paid a little more for direct flights at convenient times of day. But I won't pay several times more, and for every person who will pay a little more for some feature (schedule, connections, convenient airport), there must be several who don't mind a bit of inconvenience. And obviously, every time of day is convenient for somebody, and for lots of people seven hours flight time is as good as four, Grandma can just spend more time baking anyway :)

As for the food, I would have paid extra not to have to eat the American Airlines "Bistro Bag."
   57. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: October 19, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4276651)
One thing that annoys me is the fees that they charge for something that makes both my life harder and their life easier. For example, I've bought tickets and at the end I get a choice: pick up at Will Call for free or pay to be able to print my tickets from home. I guess I have to stand in line for Will Call, but at least I don't have to worry about losing my tickets. So it's more convenient for me and more work for them, but that's the free option. Or under the same concept, it's often free to get the tickets mailed but a charge to print them. Ends up being kind of the same for me, but isn't it a lot more costly for them to mail me the tickets?

   58. zonk Posted: October 19, 2012 at 01:37 PM (#4276658)
It's interesting – what matters is what happens on aggregate, and one can see why the base ticket price wins out on aggregate. I've flown a great deal in the past decade, and as a frequent commuter with limited time to mess around going by way of Kansas City, I often paid a little more for direct flights at convenient times of day. But I won't pay several times more, and for every person who will pay a little more for some feature (schedule, connections, convenient airport), there must be several who don't mind a bit of inconvenience. And obviously, every time of day is convenient for somebody, and for lots of people seven hours flight time is as good as four, Grandma can just spend more time baking anyway :)

As for the food, I would have paid extra not to have to eat the American Airlines "Bistro Bag."


In my case of choosing Spirit -- it was simply a last minute decision to join a few dozen friends for annual Vegas weekend... Decided the Saturday (6 days before) that I wanted to go -- and the face value/booked price for Spirit was just $200 cheaper than other legitimate option.

I don't like to fly at all -- not the whole airport thing, I just get nervous flying -- so after price, non-stop is the biggest thing for me. If I book far enough in advance, I'll also pay attention to timing....

I agree, though, on food and such. Zero desire to ever eat another airline meal again and I don't mind paying for a cocktail or two.

The one thing I do dislike about the discount airlines is the lack of a true 'first class' -- not that I fly first class all that often at all, but even with my dislike for flying, I do tend to fly about 4 or 5 times a year. I never fail to see if I can get a cheap upgrade at the gate - and about 1/3 the time, I can do so for a pretty cheap price. The bigger seats, extended legroom, and cocktail service always make that worthwhile.
   59. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: October 19, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4276662)
So People Express sucked ?
   60. Gamingboy Posted: October 19, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4276665)
Glad I never bought LCS tickets.

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