Monday, June 27, 2011

MLB's Money-Making Scheme

Would you pay just for the chance to buy these?
NOTE: My friend Jim Lynch is an actuary and wrote a blog post explaining how this works and why it can be a good opportunity for fans. I don't know if I totally agree with MLB doing this, but check out his blog.

Major League Baseball evidently subscribes to the theory that there's a sucker born every minute. And it's hard to dispute that assumption based on the MLB postseason reservations auction.

Fans are given the "opportunity" to purchase "reservations" for playoff games that their favorite team might play in. In other words, they get to pay money for the chance to buy the actual tickets. Oh, and if your team doesn't make the playoffs? Well, that's too bad. No refunds.

For years I have been disgusted by the ridiculous "handling fees" teams add to the price of each ticket. One year when the New York Mets added the fee (a few dollars per ticket) to playoff tickets, I called up the ticket office to complain. I was told that it was a lot of work to get the ducats sorted and sent out. I pointed out that I thought that was what the ticket office was for. Got nowhere with that bit of logic.

Then there's Stubhub.com, a fine service that allows fans with extra tickets to sell easily. And the buyers are given guarantees. But even Stubhub can't resist gouging consumers. If you choose to print the tickets out on your own printer (with your own ink and paper) you have to pay an extra fee. I haven't met anyone who thinks that sounds fair.

But I may have to rethink all this. If MLB can get fans to pay them, just for the chance to maybe get tickets later, it makes me wonder why they bother playing the games at all. If they work at it I bet they could get some fans to just hand over the money. They could save a bundle by not paying players or needing stadiums.

They might as well try. After all Bernie Madoff got the Mets' owners and others to fork over millions for nothing. At least he pretended to be selling something.

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