06 March 2009

Sticking the "Plus" to Ten Pack

Single game tickets will go on sale soon, so I thought I'd grab me a "Ten Pack" instead. They've been a good value, even with silly, last minute fees that dont pop up until the invoice page. No blackout dates, buy a minimum of ten seats across as many games as you want- in any combination - for considerably less than what single tickets cost. ( One time, we scored club level tix for well below what season ticket holders pay, without the 83 game commitment. Nice! )

Anyway, I log in last night to buy the 2009 10 PackPlus; the one advertised for $120, where they toss in a $10 Fry's Gift Card. There was only one catch: it cost $173.50.

Ugh. I cancelled the order. It's not just the fees. Those were "only" $23.50 and are old hat. What's new is $30 of add-ons for so called premier games. Previous packs waived premier differentials since, presumably, you were committing to a ten ticket minimum - a pretty nice incentive to splurge for the bigger overall outlay.

Characteristically, the Dbacks dangled a $10 Gift Card to distract from a pair of underreported unpleasantries - the aforementioned premier charges, plus the $10 increase ($110 to $120) from the 2008 package base price, essentially negating the bright and shiny Fry's Card. These maneuvers have Derrick and his buddies' fingerprints all over it, yakking wide-eyed about value and affordability while quietly crafting derivative hikes on the cusp of a national depression.

To be fair, the premier levies arent completely hidden. The Ten Pack page does indicate upfront those games will cost you more (although it doesnt tell you which games, or how much more, until after you order). So while fraud isnt the issue here, being invoiced 44% more than the advertised $120 is a bit of a jolt, especially considering the mailing/will call fee is only $3.50 and there's no added tax.

The practical issue is: Why should a fan commit to ten tickets now, at $17 per seat in the upper bowl, when he can buy the same (or fewer) seats individually, for close to the same price later? Based on the row numbers offererd in my aborted order, many fans seem to share this hesitation. I received rows 8 and 9 for every game (including the Opener and the 4/10 Dodger Friday night premier), which are the first two rows in the relevant sections! That's not to say big games wont eventually draw well or even sell out - single game sales havent started and Opening Day is still four weeks away -but these packages have been advertised since before the holidays and it appears (from the row numbers) the club has sold next to none of them.

Which is interesting in that CEO Derrick Hall has, unlike most clubs, consistently exuded confidence projecting 2009 attendance. It could be warranted. He has propietary data to look at and we agree a depression in Phoenix could benefit local summer entertainments - escaping to an air conditioned ballgame (or theatre or bowling alley) will be cheaper than escaping to San Diego or elsewhere.

All the same, havent the Dbacks hiked the effective cost of their value packs at a most curious time? Why would any enterprise, particularly one relying on discretionary income, substantially raise the practical cost of their value packs now? In March of 2009, it's ironic to consider that such a firm sabotaging its most attractive deals, may also be the outfit least shy with the superlatives when it comes to their self-described value, affordability and sincere commitment to customers.


Cici said...

Still cheaper than Yankees games.

Matt said...

Depends where you sit. In the grand finale year of the most storied stadium in American sports, Yankee bleacher seats cost less than bleacher seats at Chase: every single seat, every single game, for seats purchased on a single game basis.

Base Yankee prices are closely tied to demand, as evidenced by major league leading attendance.

Diamondback prices have been tethered more to latter day execs' aspirations and market illusion, contributing to the well documented disconnect with Phoenix ballfans.

Russell said...

I hate "Premium" pricing. It's really only justifiable for teams who consistently sell out their games. But for a team averaging crowds in the mid twenty thousands it can't really be defended (and that's without taking the economy into consideration).

Matt said...

I hate high prices too, but think premium pricing can be defended if people come to the games, and for the most part, people do - even in Arizona.

It's the standard games, the balance of the schedule, that tends to be overpriced, as evidenced by consistently smaller crowds.

I'd feel better about MLB if they countered premium pricing with steep discounts for ordinary Mon-Wed games, especially in markets struggling to draw.

Jeff said...

No hidden fees my ass. We should start charging the ball clubs for our attention. I'd be bloody rich.