Sports Law Blog
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Thursday, March 25, 2004

No Refunds, No Exchanges, No Fair: Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News has an entertaining piece on the accepted sports' practice of "no refunds, no exchanges." Especially this season, as the NHL's Rangers are woefully underperforming, why should fans have to stick by purchases made seven months ago when teams promised greatness?

    No refunds, no exchanges. The fine print on the stub is as culturally ingrained as the hot dogs in the stands. Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware. Sports franchises, by tradition, are permitted to rip off consumers like few other vendors. Even airlines, those dastardly profit-mongers, offer limited exchanges on booked travel. Yet sports fans have come to accept this policy as doctrine, as if it were handed down from the big Owner in the sky.

There is no legal remedy for this, unless Congress wanted to pass some sort of statute. So long as there continues to be a demand for sports tickets, people will buy them with whatever conditions the market can bear. In reality, many people attend sporting events, especially professional sporting events, not for the game but for a host of other reasons. Business deals are done during halftime. Kids are entertained by the gimmicks during time-outs. Everyone likes getting hot dogs and beer at the baseball park. Sports are a business and owners are businessmen who are not about to offer refunds should their star player be injured. And so long as fans continue to foot the bill, there is no reason to believe anything will change.


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