The Minnesota Timberwolves are not the worst team in the NBA. They are not the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers, nor is their future as suspect as the Phoenix Suns. But the Timberwolves have the league’s worst home attendance. They rank 30th in their ability to fill the seats, the worst attendance in 13 years, and now we know why, and it has nothing to do with an aversion to seeing Karl-Anthony Towns play and everything to do with the Timberwolves greed.
This season, the organization instituted a paperless ticket system which may sound convenient to the customer until you are the one screwed by the fine print. You can’t transfer your ticket without paying a fee. You can’t sell the tickets on traditional resale markets like StubHub or Ticketmaster. The Timberwolves shut down all competition in order to increase profit margins. The collateral damage is high. No one is at the games anymore. The resell market is dead. The season tickets enthusiasm is depressed.
So the season ticket holders did what all disgusted people do in this country. They sued.
These are the facts of the lawsuit.
Season ticket holder James Mattson and marketing firm GLS Cos. paid $21,000 and $32,000 respectively for season tickets. When they made their initial investment they assumed they would be able to re-sell the tickets on sites like StubHub and make a profit. But the Timberwolves changed their ticketing to a paperless system after the season tickets holders had plunked down their dough. That means no more StubHub profits, and if you want to transfer your ticket you have to pay a fee.
So, let’s examine this. I have the flu. I can’t go see the Blazers when they come in town. I tell my sister. For her to get my ticket I have to pay a transfer fee when I have already plunked down 21K for the tickets in the first place. Way to treat your customers Timberwolves. It’s business clever to funnel all tickets to a paperless system. In theory, the customer doesn’t own what he doesn’t possess.
If I want to sell my tickets on the re-sale market, I am forced to sell it at something called Flash Seat. Unlike StubHub, I don’t get to name my price. Flash Seat determines the price and- shocker- that is 75% of the ticket value, with a portion of that value going straight to the Timberwolves. It’s nice to know greed is good in Minnesota.
A $200.00 ticket must be sold for $150.00. Not even a die-hard Andrew Wiggins fan is going to do that. Might as well hunker down and watch the game at home.
There is cause and effect here. The Timberwolves are a horrible product so no one comes. The Timberwolves have made it impossible to resell tickets so no one comes. The lust for money, by way of season ticket holders financial investment, hurts the product. It’s bad p.r. not to mention a reminder of how banks nickel and dime you for access to your own money. Also, it’s counterintuitive. A young team feeds off the energy of the crowd. But there is no crowd energy because no one is there.
James Mattson gave an example. February 22nd was a nice day to go to the game. He had tickets for Boston and had intended to sell them for $100.00. But Flash Seats required a $180.00 minimum price. Tickets went unsold.
The lawsuit is very specific of how the plaintiffs in the case are being screwed by the “draconian” policies.
“Because the Timberwolves have performed so poorly, plaintiffs and class members have been left holding the bag, since reasonable market purchasers have no interest in paying premium prices for a team mired at the bottom of the conference standings with no hope of making the NBA playoffs.”
Is this new policy a breach of contract, and thus, a violation of the Minnesota Prevention of Consumer Fraud Act, Minnesota Unlawful Trades Act, Minnesota Uniform Deceptive Trade Act and the Minnesota Antitrust Law?
All is quiet on the Timberwolves front. No one is talking profit, price gouging, trade violation, deception and fraud. Except for the season ticket holders, who are screaming technical foul.
photo via llananba