The Green Bay Packers are among the many teams using the disruption of COVID to force customers to an exclusively mobile-only ticketing system, and some of the team’s fans are venting their frustration over the decision. Green Bay, which has a unique “community” ownership setup, announced earlier this month that it would be exclusively mobile-only for its ticketing plans in 2021, having done mobile-only for its playoff games in 2020.
Stripping fans of their rights to choose the method of ticket the team provides doesn’t sit right with fans.
“I think they are forcing us old guys out,” says Bob Deringer, who has been a season ticket holder of the team for nearly 60 years and doesn’t own a smartphone or wish to purchase one. “I’m very upset they are forcing me to have a smartphone.”
“I’m not really tech savvy with phones – so that’s one of the reasons I liked the ticket form better,” adds Packers fan Dean Bolle.
Green Bay is just the latest professional franchise or venue to force the switch to mobile-only ticketing systems. The technology allows teams and event organizers to harvest massive amounts of data, due to forced opt-in for data access through the required smartphone apps involved in the process. They also enable the application of restrictive technology that limits consumer choice on what they can do with their tickets should they choose not to attend the game – either restricting the sale or transfer to one platform of the vendor’s choosing, or removing the right to sell or even give away your tickets altogether.
In several states, event organizers are required by law to offer consumers the option to have their tickets delivered in a manner that is not controlled end-to-end by the primary ticketing vendor. New York just extended its existing law providing such protections, and is considering additional protections in the coming year. Connecticut, Virginia, Colorado and Illinois also feature those protections for their residents. New Jersey is considering similar consumer-friendly legislation in its current session as well, but Wisconsin has not yet taken such steps to ensure consumer freedom and choice in their ticketing purchase, which makes the Packers’ transition legal even if their longtime fans don’t welcome it.
“We do understand that for some of our fans, for them this will be a big transition,” says Green Bay Packers spokesperson Aaron Popkey. “We’ll work with them to determine what is the best solution for them.”
That effort by the team includes some educational materials on their website designed to walk ticket-holders through the process of accessing their tickets through a smartphone rather than the way they’ve always done it. And there are apparently exceptions to their rule, should the consumers involved be saavy enough to fight for them.
“It’s a pain, it’s a pain,” Deringer says. “I don’t think they should force you to have a smartphone to enter a game or do something else they should do.”