A day after the Globe presented the Bruins with the questions of frustrated season ticket holders, the team announced a change in its payment policy.
Early Friday evening, the Bruins sent a message to season ticket holders on monthly payment plans, saying they were canceling the upcoming December installment.
“We realize there is uncertainty regarding whether fans will be allowed to attend all home games, what the return to play will be like for TD Garden and how these changes may impact your 2020-21 Season Tickets and payments, including total cost,” the e-mail read in part.
“While we await further details from the NHL regarding the 2020-21 Season, the Bruins have made the decision to cancel any scheduled payments for our Season Ticket Holders. This means that you will not be charged in December.”
As soon as the 2020-21 schedule is settled, the e-mail read, the club will relay options for season ticket holders regarding refunds, “as well options for Season Ticket Holders to accrue interest on money which they leave in their account,” and any options for fans should games be impacted by local or NHL restrictions that limit attendance due to COVID-19.
Thursday evening, the Globe brought to the Bruins the concerns of several longtime season ticket holders, who were irritated that their credit cards were continually tapped in the lead-up to an uncertain 2020-21 season. Even if fans are allowed at TD Garden in 2021, social distancing rules likely will not permit all of the approximately 12,000 season ticket holders to gather at once.
The Globe asked in part if the Bruins had considered pausing monthly payments — as several other NHL teams have done — and whether fans who had committed thousands of dollars during the pause could see some of that returned in a small interest credit.
In an e-mail response Friday afternoon, Bruins chief revenue officer Glen Thornborough said the team would not be charging for December.
“Payments continued as we hoped to have plans for the season announced,” he wrote, “but we recognize with the uncertainty we cannot continue with the December payment.”
It has been eight months since NHL rinks were open to the general public, but before making the change, the Bruins had collected 95 percent of 2020-21 season ticket costs. Fans were frustrated to keep paying, with no dates on the calendar and no plan communicated to them.
Bob Foote, a 25-year season ticket-holder from Rowley, committed in February to buying 2020 playoff tickets under the “pay as we play” option. To get that installment plan, he had to purchase season tickets for 2020-21 (with a 5 percent hike, following the 2019 run to the Stanley Cup Final).
“They have nothing yet to sell me for the money collected,” Foote wrote in an e-mail to the Globe last week, noting that “a large amount of interest-free money” had been flowing into the Delaware North coffers.
Jaci Donahe of Cambridge, a Loge 19 denizen since 2009, said a lack of transparency from the club during the pause “left a bad taste.” Even fan-exclusive Zoom calls with players and management were communicated on short notice.
“If and when the season does start, we haven’t been given any options about where our money goes and if we will get anything back,” she said. “Seems like a lot of money to have tied up with no promises of a product, or even any real benefits to them keeping our money.”
Bill Veiga has split Bruins season tickets with his family since 1989. Every February, he renews his seats in Section 19 for about $4,000 a year. He has had to “delay car payments” to fit playoff seats into his budget. The 2019 Stanley Cup run cost an additional $3,800.
These days, that’s money that could be used elsewhere.
“With COVID, people being away from the game, having other priorities in life . . . unless they do right by the fans and put a great product on the ice, you might lose some diehards,” said Veiga, of Winthrop. “You’re definitely going to lose a bunch of casual fans.”
On Monday, the Bruins sent season ticket holders a well-wishing e-mail that asked for patience.
“Once we receive official communication from the league, the state, and the city, we will be back in touch with updates,” the message read in part.
“I get it,” said Steve Anzuoni of Plymouth, who estimates he spends $20,000 a year on tickets for himself and his business clients. “But to send us an e-mail saying, basically, hang in there, and not give us some contingency plan, while they’re sucking money out of my wallet every month, is a little annoying . . . I expect to be treated better.”
Last week, the Devils reportedly became the latest team to suspend payment plans for season ticket holders amid the uncertainty of the upcoming season. The Canucks, Maple Leafs, Kings, and Rangers have offered fans a deferral on their installment payments.
The Bruins refunded money for the six canceled home games in March and April. Meanwhile, the Red Sox offered a full refund for 2020 season tickets, or a 10 percent bonus added to those who kept their games in April and May. The Patriots offered full refunds or the option to apply it as a credit in 2021.