Hill is one of 125 season ticket holders who asked to be released from multiyear contracts and were sued by the Redskins in the past five years. The Washington Post interviewed about two dozen of them. Most said that they were victims of the economic downturn, having lost a job or experiencing some other financial hardship. Redskins General Counsel David Donovan said the lawsuits are a last resort that involve a small percentage of the team's 20,000 annual premium seat contracts. He added that the team has accommodated people in hard-luck circumstances hundreds of times.
No business can survive without taking care of it's customers. The businesses that truly excel are the ones that recognize that their customers are their lifeblood. If you treat your customers like family, that devotion will very likely be returned to you in terms of repeat business. Most successful businesses recognize this, and manage to view their customers as family, not just open wallets. And then there's Daniel Snyder's Washington Redskins, who apparently never got the memo that we're in the middle of one of the worst recessions in this nation's history. Yep, this story comes straight from the "How not to take care of your customers" department. You just can't buy PR like this, knowhutimean?? Not that you'd want to....
I understand the sanctity of a contract. Neither party should be able to simply walk away from their commitment. Nonetheless, would it kill the Redskins to display some humanity and compassion? Season tickets are nothing if not a discretionary expense, and if you've lost you job the income that comes with it...well, you're probably going to be primarily concerned with feeding your family and paying your mortgage. A business such as the Redskins would be well served to remember that we're in the middle of a recession and be cognizant of the impact this economy is having on their customers.
Fans willing to sign a long-term contract for season tickets are committed to the experience. After all, there's no small expense involved in purchasing those tickets, and most fans view season tickets as a badge of honor. It's very unlikely that a fan who's signed a long-term contract is making a casual, ill-considered, spur-of-the-moment purchase. No, these are people who LOVE the Redskins. Some of these folks have stuck with the Redskins during times when the product on the field was definitely NOT worth the price they were paying for their season tickets. Now that the tables have turned, however, Daniel Snyder's Redskins have proven conclusively that they view fans with suspicion and disdain.
OK, so I understand that an NFL team's business model is not quite the same as a widget factory. Nonetheless, no business can thrive without the good will of it's current and potential customers. If you own a business and think you can succeed and thrive despite treating your customers as afterthoughts, well...you're going to be in for a helluva surprise. The businesses that will survive this recession and thrive in the long run are the ones who recognize and understand that many of their customers are in dire straits. People are hurting. When your primary concerns are feeding your family and keeping a roof over your head, NFL season tickets can, and in some cases do, become an unnecessary luxury. No one who loves their team is going to walk away from their opportunity to spend Sunday afternoons cheering their heroes on as they drink watery $9 beers with 70,000 of their closest friends. Then again, if it comes down to a choice between paying for season tickets or paying your mortgage...well, you can always hope the game's on local TV, no?
I'm not about to advocate that a business allow customers to casually walk away from a contractual commitment. From a PR standpoint, though, would it kill the Redskins to at least act as if they understand that this country is in the midst of a deep recession? Or does Daniel Snyder just not care?