23 April 2007

Free Interest Loans To See the Braves? Think Twice

The Atlanta Braves are trying out something new I'd never seen before. They are offering ticket packages with 90-day, interest free financing. Want a package valued at over $200? The Braves have a deal for you! This financing can be used for as few as four games!

"We've heard from lots of fans who say 'We want this ticket package and we don't have that amount of cash on hand as we speak,"' Braves senior vice president for sales and marketing Derek Schiller said.

This is a great deal for the team, and a terrible one for the fans. If you don't have the money to attend the games, DON'T GO! Or buy cheaper tickets. Or attend fewer games. Or watch on TV. The fan only stands to lose. If you don't have the money now, what makes you think you'll be able to in the span of three short months? What about all the expensive ballpark food? Can you get a loan for that to? And what happens after the 90 days are up?
Dennis Murphy, GE Money vice president of sporting goods industry, said the finance charge on balances unpaid after 90 days is between 20 percent and 25 percent and based on the prime rate.

That's right. The team makes off like bandits.

All this for a product that last year was neither appealing nor in demand. On average Turner Field was only 65% full last year, and finished in third place. If people weren't seeing the team last year, does the team really think this loan will help things?

Sadly, it probably will. People are always tricked by the prospect of free money, even if the pratfalls are devastatingly close behind. In this case, the short span of three months. Credit is one of this country's biggest problems, and the inevitable success of this program will just be another example of it.

The 90-day free interest program is a great idea on paper, and perhaps a great deal for the team in practice. They'll find some fools to do it. I just hope these fans get to see some wins.

But hey, maybe the Braves will finally re-sign some of their free agents now?