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Florida Panthers' lockout ticket policy has rewards, drawbacks

With no end to the NHL lockout in sight, Florida Panthers season-ticket holders are facing an Oct. 1 deadline to decide whether or not to let the team hold on to their money for the duration of the labor dispute.

The three choices outlined in a letter to ticket-holders are clearly designed to discourage fans from asking for refunds.

Those who agree to keep their full account balance with the team can opt to receive a 10 percent credit or a 5 percent payment for games that are canceled and not rescheduled.

While those are among the most generous options being offered by NHL teams, the Panthers’ third choice is raising the ire of some fans. Those who want their money refunded must wait for it until the NHL finalizes the 2012-13 season.

There’s an additional kicker:

"Upon selecting Option 3, your account is subject to cancelation. In the event the entire 2012-13 season is canceled, you will be offered the option to renew tickets at the market price at the time of your renewal for the 2013-14 season, however seat location cannot be guaranteed and seat/location cannot be held."

Thus, those who ask for money back for games that aren’t played forfeit their advantages as recurring season-ticket holders. It is being regarded as a slap in the face by an organization that has a knack for awkward customer relations.

Once the labor dispute is settled and the fate of the upcoming season determined, the Panthers will provide refunds to those who request them for games canceled, whether it is a portion or the entire home schedule.

For those who do agree to let the Panthers hold their funds through the lockout and receive 10 percent credit, it will be applied to playoff tickets or tickets for 2013-14. For those who choose to receive the 5 percent payment, it will be issued at the time the 2012-13 season actually begins. It is unclear if payment will be made if the entire season is canceled.

The NHL has left it up to each team to set its own policy for handling ticket money during the lockout. The Minnesota Wild are also offering a 10 percent credit on canceled games that can be applied to future games.

Other teams aren’t allowing nearly as much for the inconvenience. The Washington Capitals are offering 1 percent interest on funds for game that are not played. Most are offering between 1 and 5 percent interest to those who leave ticket money with the team.

Buffalo Sabres ticket-holders can opt for a 4 percent interest credit or a refund, which will be paid at the beginning of each month for games canceled the previous month. No mention of any punitive repercussions or loss of standing for those who simply want their money back for lost games.

During last year’s NBA lockout the league ordered clubs to pay 1 percent interest for lost games. The Miami Heat did better than that, giving a 5 percent payment and a discount on playoff tickets to those who left their money with the team.

Categories: Florida Panthers (111)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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