Every so often I like to point out marketing don’ts. Unfortunately, the New York Mets, my favorite baseball team, have provided a doozy of a don’t.
The Mets, a losing franchise that I have rooted for my entire life of 54 years, is stealing from unsuspecting fans, biting the hand that feeds them. Their behavior is unethical, and should be exposed and punished.
What did they do? They rewarded me for buying a limited season ticket package in 2021, a year in which the team underperformed and fans risked Covid to come out, by sneaking in a renewal that forces me to buy another package for 2022.
Apparently, the only way they can get people to watch them is to steal their credit card and force them to. This is not how any legitimate business conducts itself.
The Mets told me, in response to my emailed and phoned-in request for a refund, that they can’t do anything about this, that they cannot change their policy or cancel the renewal. I even tried to get American Express involved. But they said they could not undo this.
Because the Mets say my digital signing of their season ticket agreement in March has some fine-print clause buried in pages of legaleze, that references an automatic renewal for the next season. According to them, I need to opt-out during some unstated narrow window of time in the summer – otherwise I am forced to pay for another season of tickets.
It makes no sense.
Inspired re-enactment of New York Mets customer service and marketing practices
One should have to opt-in to do a renewal, not opt-out. One resigns a lease on their apartment, resigns for other membership fee services, resigns for renewing a newspaper subscription, renews a database subscription, renews a health insurance policy, renews an auto insurance policy, renews a new car lease, renews … anything. The only ones that renew automatically are monthly services like Netflix, but when you tell them to cancel, they do so and they immediately pro-rate a refund for that month and end the service.
Even if somehow what the Mets do is legal, which disturbs me if it is, it shouldn’t be. And certainly the Mets, portrayed as a family-friendly operation, should not need to resort to a trick, a deception, a theft in order to squeeze money out of its fans.
Does the new billionaire team owner, perhaps hurting from overspending on a terrible $340 million acquisition in Francisco Lindor, need a GoFundMe page?
Keep in mind, their offense is happening as the players ponder striking and the owners dream of a lock out, each group fighting over a pot of greed. Maybe we, the fans, need to boycott and remind the league it can't treat the fan like crap. Unfortunately, the Mets are not alone in what they are doing. Other sports teams -- not all -- including some baseball teams -- are looking to make the invisible automatic-renewal as commonplace as having a hot dog and fries at a game.
The Mets are a franchise in trouble. Sexual harassment and DUI at high management levels have been publicly exposed this year. They hired a cheater for a manger that they had to fire before he starts. Losing seasons, one after another. My own Mets sales rep changed hands three or four times this season. No GM. No manager. No one seems to want to work there.
My call with the Mets earlier this week left me feeling angry and sad that the Mets, a brand I have followed all of my life, sees it fit to swindle people. Now they resort to practices that resemble fraud to clutch onto their fan base. I am now held hostage by a baseball team.
It's not enough that I pay multiple handling and processing fees for an e-ticket, that I spend on overpriced foods from understaffed vendors that take an inning to process an order, shell out for overpriced parking that is hard to exit after game time due to poorly managed flow, and open my wallet for worthless memorabilia (ooh, get your third-place yearbook here!). It is not enough that I support a losing franchise that is inept from top to bottom. It is not enough to be a Mets fan in a Yankee town. No, these guys seem to need to rob the fans. Do the Mets want my piggy bank and first born, too?
Fans getting treated well by the New York Mets, say the Mets
Let's keep it simple. I have not benefited from my 2022 season ticket package that they signed me up for. No games were played. I didn't take anyone's seat. I didn't attend any events -- none were available. As soon as I discovered the Mets swindle maneuver on my credit card, I called the credit card company to object. I tried reaching the Mets and no one was immediately available. This is outrageous!
I just reviewed the scores of emails the Mets had sent me the last few months. Not one says in the subject line any language indicating that I need to opt out of something if I don’t want the season ticket package. One – just one -- mentions renewal in the subject line, as if they were encouraging me to renew. These emails don’t get opened up because they get tuned out. Too many emails constantly hawking something to a fan that is tired of being soaked. So, if that subject line doesn’t highlight that an opt-out period has begun or is about to end, they go on as if nothing is happening. They don’t want to call attention to it. They want it buried, ignored, forgotten.
They never even sent me an email saying the 2022 season package has been purchased – like a welcome/thank you letter. Why? Because they didn’t want to call attention to it. Sneaky. Most businesses gladly congratulate and thank their valued customers. Not the Mets. They operate behind the shadows, quietly infuriating their fans.
One email sent to me in August from the Mets, while I was on vacation, indicated my sales rep – another new one -- is available to “help me” with my renewal -- which further sounds like there is something I would need to do to renew it, not to cancel it. They purposely mislead people or remained silent where it suited them. These emails do not get opened up because I knew I was not renewing. I never suspected the Mets would expect me to opt-out of what they seem to feel is a lifetime deal.
What most fans feel like in dealing with the Mets
I consider the Mets to be stealing my money and acting pathetically. This is how they treat someone who invested in season tickets for a sub-par team in a year that began with limited capacity and me not seeing a game until June? The Mets are desperately feeding off of people that had until now supported them.
Why are they alienating fans by sneaking in a renewal? This is not how one does business. Is the only way they get someone to watch the Mets is to trick them and force them?
They can offer their $7500 batting practice package to corporations and rich suckers or $1500 to put one's name on a scoreboard in front of zero fans in the off season. They can charge 10 bucks for a sausage. But they can't take someone's credit card and trust -- and just rob them -- and then have the nerve to say they are in the right. Can they?
P.S. —I am happy to say that after another call to the Mets the other day, this time with a higher executive, they agreed to refund me without taking any ownership for a shady scheme. In fact, they doubled down to say more teams are doing this and that he feels the Mets communicated everything perfectly. If I hadn’t been persistent, passionate, and aggressive, they would have just kept my money. Folks, advocate for yourself and don’t trust any entity or person to act ethically. That does not exist. Just ask the New York Mets.
New Mets Promotion: Getting Billed For Things You Don't Want
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Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has 30 years of experience in helping thousands of authors in all genres.
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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum.
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