Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Yankees screw over fans -- again -- with new ticket policy

One of my favorite sayings in real life is "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." (I have been known to use the more profane version of this expression as well!) I stole it from Judge Judy. In case you don't know what the expression means, it is basically saying, "Don't screw me over and then act like you had nothing to do with it."

I couldn't help but think of that expression when I heard about the Yankees' new ticket policy. The team announced in a press release this week that they were finally going to accept mobile tickets. But the real story is that they're no longer accepting PDFs or printouts of online game tickets. Here is how the organization spun this news:
As the Yankees are continuously striving to implement technological advances to provide our fans with a ticketing experience that is unparalleled, convenient, safe and secure, the Yankees are excited to announce, as a complement to traditional hard stock paper tickets, the availability of mobile ticketing for the 2016 baseball season. Print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs) are being discontinued so as to further combat fraud and counterfeiting of tickets associated with print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs). In addition to traditional hard stock paper tickets, the Yankees will be offering the opportunity for fans to receive mobile tickets on a fan's Smartphone. For more information on mobile ticketing, visit yankees.com/mobile.
Mobile ticketing is an advance that is long past due. But the team discontinuing print-at-home paper tickets has very little to do with combatting fraud and counterfeiting and everything to do with yet another money grab. Because guess what? Hard stock paper tickets can be counterfeited as well.

The counterfeit tickets Michael Kay
had purchased for "Hamilton." Photo
courtesy of @RealMichaelKay
And how do I know this? Because I heard Yankees TV broadcaster Michael Kay tell his ESPN Radio listeners on the very same day as this ticket announcement about his disastrous Valentine's Day, in which he tried to use tickets to the very popular Broadway show Hamilton that were purchased on Craigslist, only to discover that the ducats were counterfeit. And, as you can see from the picture Kay posted on Twitter, these were traditional tickets, not PDFs of etickets!

No, the real reason the Yankees are eliminating print-at-home tickets is to put StubHub and other secondary ticket markets out of the business of selling Yankee tickets, and to move such sales to the Yankees Ticket Exchange, where the Yanks make money on every resale. (It wasn't enough that they make money on the initial sale of the tix; they have to make money on the resale as well!) And where the site has a ticket floor on prices, so that they don't get too low. (Savvy fans know that StubHub can have great deals on Yankee tickets, especially when it gets close to the day of the game, due to fans wanting to sell their tickets quickly.)

Funny how big businesses like the Yankees praise the free market -- until it can negatively affect them, and then they put in artificial measures to protect their businesses!

Incidentally, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a few weeks ago that he was looking into the Yankees Ticket Exchange, as well as the NFL's secondary ticket market program, because of that very reason -- the price floor being an anti-competitive measure. I will be curious to see what happens with that.

Anyhow, there are going to be several repercussions to the Yankees' new policy. Forget about buying tickets on StubHub on the day of a game. If you want to get tickets, you will have to go to the Yankees' own site to do so. This also means that they will gather your personal info when you sign up at yankees.com for an account in order to download the tickets. 

In addition, you'd better make sure your smartphone is fully charged when you get to the ballpark, or you won't be able to use your e-ticket. And given how quickly iPhones run out of juice -- I have gone from 100% to zero power on my phone just going from Staten Island to Manhattan! -- this can be a real problem.

And finally, the team doesn't seem to be aware -- or to care -- that not everybody has a smartphone these days, for various reasons: cost, fear of technology, etc. And that they are essentially shutting those fans out from being able to buy tickets online. 

You know, given the uninspiring product the Yankees are planning on putting on the field this year, the team ought to be looking for more fan-friendly ways to get people into games, not looking for ways to shut them out. This new policy is really shortsighted, and sounds like something Randy Levine and Lonn Trost cooked up to increase the team's bottom line -- and screw over their own fanbase.

The irony is, though, that it will mean fewer people will buy Yankee tickets online at StubHub at the last minute. Which means fewer people going through the door and buying food and drinks and souvenirs. Does anybody ever think things out in Yankeeland? 

These sorts of shenanigans are why I could at least appreciate the gesture the Mets made with their Spring Training Sendoff event that Jon and I attended this week. While the day was a hot mess, I can see the team was trying to give their fans something for free to show some appreciation for their loyalty. The last time I can remember the Yankees doing something similar to show appreciation for their fans was in 2009, when they opened up the ballpark for fans to watch Game 4 of the 2009 World Series in. And that was a long time ago indeed. Oy.

2 comments:

Bman said...

Total garbage. Hopefully NY State has something to say about it!

Dbar Ca said...

Surprising how short-sighted this decision is. This new policy will eliminate a big group of folks who would've been in attendance buying concessions, souvenirs, etc.

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