Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Last week we reported about a change in Monumental’s policy for season-ticket holders. Under this new policy, ticket holders would not be able to print out their tickets until 72 hours before the event. The team stated that the policy was changed for security reasons, though some fans felt that the Caps were trying to eliminate competition on the secondary market.
Ticket-reseller websites like StubHub have cutoff windows for the delivery of resold tickets. To resell, the original owner must provide the ticket usually no less than five days before the game. With a 72-hour-window instituted by the Capitals and Wizards, reselling on StubHub was effectively made impossible. The NHL’s partner reseller, TicketExchange, was still a viable option.
Since this story broke, StubHub has changed its rules to accommodate Monumental’s new restrictions on ticket printing.
StubHub tells me that while there is no formal policy in place yet, they have adjusted their delivery cutoff date to as little as 48 hours in the markets where it is necessary. When StubHub learned of the change to Capitals STH rules, they modified their rules for Caps tickets.
“We believe in open and free competition,” a representative for the company told RMNB on Monday. “We defend a fan’s right to resell tickets on StubHub or anywhere else.”
The StubHub spokesperson told me that the company makes adjustments like this on a one-by-one basis in reaction to team policies regarding ticket printing. According to StubHub, restrictions like the one the Capitals instituted are becoming more and more common in the industry as teams attempt to box out resellers.
The Capitals maintain that the change in policy was made strictly for security and fraud reasons. “We’ve seen a rise in counterfeit and duplicate PDF tickets over the past few seasons,” the Capitals told RMNB via email (The full message is at the bottom of this story). “On a nightly basis last season for both teams, customers were unable to enter Verizon Center due to having PDF tickets that were invalid, fake, or mistakenly duplicate. We think that by reducing that time in which customers can print, we’ll have less instances of fraudulent tickets.”
Complaints of long lines and security snags outside Verizon Center have been increasing in recent years. The Caps intend the new policy to ameliorate the problem.
— Ryan Kelly (@RyanJKelly) April 25, 2014
with 99% of the @washcaps fans standing outside of the verizon center trying to get in…
— atalie a (@ataliea) April 23, 2013
But the Capitals’ statement does not address or even acknowledge the appearance that this policy change was business-driven.
“It makes it much more difficult for customers to have flexibility,” the StubHub representative told me of the policy, echoing the letters and comments on our original story. “The point of StubHub is to strongly, firmly, and enthusiastically help customers do whatever they want with their tickets.”
For now, Caps ticket holders can again sell their tickets on the reseller site, though neither StubHub nor the Capitals would call this situation optimal. The Caps still have a gauntlet of security, which, by definition, is not convenient. And StubHub has to be responsive to every market in the country in order to stay viable.
Among the fans we’ve spoken to about the issue, cooler heads seem to have prevailed.
Just got off the phone with my boy @brandonpyle2. He talked me off the ledge. We are cool again, @CapsSTH I can't stay mad at you ::hugs::
— TimothyJimothyYoshie (@tjyoshie77) September 11, 2014
Here is the Capitals’ full statement to RMNB about the policy change.
This is a new policy for both the Capitals and Wizards for the upcoming seasons. We notified Caps season ticket members via email yesterday when we activated their tickets online for management. In the past customers have had the ability to go online and print their tickets at home, without restrictions. This year we’re adding a time limit where they can print at home 72 hours in advance of a game. All other online abilities (transfer to friends/family/clients, transfer to an alternate card, donate to charity, post for resale) remain available with no time limits put in place.
Our reason for doing this is for the security/safety of customers buying and using PDF tickets. We’ve seen a rise in counterfeit and duplicate PDF tickets over the past few seasons, and this is a measure that allows us to address that. On a nightly basis last season for both teams, customers were unable to enter Verizon Center due to having PDF tickets that were invalid, fake, or mistakenly duplicate. We think that by reducing that time in which customers can print, we’ll have less instances of fraudulent tickets.
Due to our switch to digital ticketing two years ago, we do have a lot of customers who opt for printing out their tickets instead of using the card we provide. They still have the option to manage their tickets via PDF, but just need to wait until the 72 hour timeframe. Our season ticket members have a variety of ways to enter Verizon Center on game nights beyond PDFs, including our Membership card, mobile ticketing, and the option to transfer tickets to an alternate credit card.
All elements of online ticket management have remained the same for the upcoming seasons. We think all of our online ticket management tools provide customers a great variety of options for managing their tickets. The only change is the timeframe in which a PDF ticket can be printed.
We ask and encourage our customers to contact their guest services representative if they have any comments and concerns over this change.
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