Panthers Announce Season Ticket Holder "Protection Plan"

52459847: NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 20: Fans show their feelings regarding the NHL lockout as the Florida Gators take on the Villanova Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Gaylord Entertainment Center on March 20, 2005 in Nashville, Tennessee. Villanova defeated Florida 76-65. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Every NHL fan's worst nightmare is here: another work stoppage. While those of us who, for whatever reason, are not season ticket holders will be missing the Panthers on television, the season ticket holders have another problem. Namely, what about that huge chunk of money I paid the team for tickets to games that might not be happening? This week, NHL teams have begun to notify season ticket holders of the answers to just this question.

Teams' answer to this question is far from uniform. Days of Y'Orr has a good round-up of many of the teams' plans here. Most teams are offering credits for games cancelled and many are offering additional interest or bonus credits of some sort, which is generally higher if you elect to leave your balance with the team and accept a credit rather than refund for cancelled games.

The Panthers, as always, have their own unique spin on these plans, which they refer to as a "Protection Plan." What exactly is this plan designed to protect? As is so often the case with anything involving the Panthers, it is designed to protect the Panthers. Season ticket holders have been given three options as to their account balances, and they must pick an option by October 1.

The three options are as follows:

"Loyalty" Option 1:

Retain your full account balance with the Florida Panthers and earn 10% loyalty CREDIT
on your account. By selecting this option, you agree to leave all monies for your 2012-13 season
tickets in your account in the event any 2012-13 preseason and regular season games are cancelled and
not rescheduled by the NHL. ln such an event, you will earn 10% loyalty credit for the amount of games
cancelled and not rescheduled by the NHL.

"Loyalty" Option 2:

Retain your 'full account balance with the Florida Panthers and earn 5% loyalty PAYMENT.
By selecting this option, you agree to leave all monies for your 2012-13 season tickets in your account in
the event any 2012-13 preseason and regular season games are cancelled and not rescheduled by the
NHL. In such an event, you will earn 5% loyalty payment for the amount of games cancelled and not
rescheduled by the NHL. Loyalty payment will be issued in the form of a check upon the start of the
2012-13 season.

and "Option 3":

Receive a refund in the event any home games are cancelled and not rescheduled by the
NHL. By selecting this option, you will receive a refund of the monies on your account for games
cancelled and not rescheduled. Refunds will be issued upon the NHL's official announcement of the
entire 2012-13 season.

In short, If you pick one of the first two options, the team holds on to your season ticket payment until a new CBA is in place, then your account receives a credit for each game not played. If you picked option one, your credit is increased by 10%. If you picked option two, your account is credited for all games not played, plus you receive a check for 5% of the credit amount. If you pick option three, you receive a full refund. This seems pretty straightforward, right?

Not so fast. There's a little matter of the fine print.

By selecting this option, you agree to leave all monies for your 2012-13 season tickets in your account in the event any 2012-13 preseason and regular season games are cancelled and not rescheduled by the NHL. In such an event, you will earn a 10% loyalty credit, for the amount of cancelled and not rescheduled games by the NHL. Loyalty credit can be used towards your 2013 Stanley Cup playoff tickets and/or 2013-14 Panthers ticket purchases, as applicable. In the event the entire 2012-13 season is cancelled, you will be automatically renewed for the 2013-14 season at your 2012-13 season ticket prices.

Your selection of the loyalty option 1 is final and cannot be changed.

Option two is basically the same:

By selecting this option, you agree to leave all monies for your 2012-13 season tickets in your account in the event any 2012-13 preseason and regular season games are cancelled and not rescheduled by the NHL. In such an event, you will receive a 5% loyalty payment, for the amount of cancelled and not rescheduled games by the NHL. Loyalty payment will be issued in the form of a check upon the start of the 2012-13 season. In the event the entire 2012-13 season is cancelled, you will be automatically renewed for the 2013-14 season at your 2012-13 season ticket prices.

Your selection of the loyalty option 2 is final and cannot be changed.

Important things to note here are that your selection is final, and that, apparently, if you select option two and the entire season is cancelled, you don't get the five percent payment. The fine print on the first option only says that if any games are cancelled, you will receive an extra 10% credit. The print for option two states that you will receive a credit at the start of the 2012-13 season. So, if the entire season is cancelled? Your balance will cover your season tickets for next season, but you may not get that extra 5% in return for allowing the Panthers to hold on to your money for a year.

Then there's lonely option three:

By selecting option 3, you will receive a refund of the monies on your account for all home games cancelled and not rescheduled by the NHL. Refunds will be issued upon the NHL announcement of the entire 2012-13 season. Upon selecting option 3, your account is subject to cancellation. In the event the entire 2012-13 season is cancelled, 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.

Interesting. So, if you ask for a refund, you will receive a refund for all games cancelled. But you won't receive it until either there is a new CBA in place, or the NHL announces that the entire season is cancelled. Plus, the Panthers might cancel your account. So, to be clear, if the season is cancelled, the team might hold on to your money until January or February before they return it and they also might cancel your account to boot.

That's a nice way to repay your fans for sticking with this team while it was terrible for about ten years or so. If you're loyal enough to have renewed your season ticket even with a work stoppage looming, but not so loyal that you're happy letting the Panthers hold on to your money until whenever it is that the league and the PA get around to finishing up their negotiations, then too bad, we're holding on to your money at least until the season is cancelled and then we may cancel your account just because we feel like it.

A few more terms and conditions:

The account must be in current standing in order to participate in the loyalty program. The loyalty payment and/or credit are based on amount on deposit with the club at the time of the cancelled games.

The loyalty credit will be applied towards 2013 Stanley Cup playoff tickets and /or 2013-14 Panthers tickets; it cannot be used at third party outlets in the arena, i.e. food, beverage, retail, parking, etc.

Unpaid fees, NSF or declined credit card payments may prevent your account from being considered in current standing.

Any remaining credits will be applied to future renewal payments or to offset the cost of your 2013 Stanley Cup playoff tickets, if applicable. If you do not elect to purchase seats for the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs the credit will be used to offset your next 2013-14 season ticket payment. For non-renewed accounts, the credit can only be used for 2013 Stanley Cup playoff tickets and/or Panthers tickets, and any balance will be forfeited.

The restriction of use to tickets makes sense, since that was what the original payment was for, but know that your credit is only good until next season. In fact, it might be best to use the credit during the playoffs, provided the Panthers make it again. The only people the team treats worse than its season ticket holders are its non-season ticket holder fans.

As is so often the case, the Panthers once again look to squeeze their fans when they're hurting the most.

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