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Town Extend Opt Out Deadline
Thursday, 17th Apr 2014 11:36

Town have extended the deadline for existing season ticket holders who pay for their seats via direct debit to opt out of becoming Academy Friends.

Fans who pay for the season tickets via direct debit had the £120 cost of joining the Academy Friends scheme automatically added to their payment schedule unless they opted out before a deadline of today, despite their season ticket application forms erroneously having stated that they were required to opt in.

However, the club has now written to those supporters yet to opt out informing that the deadline has been extended until May 1st.

Via the new Academy Pledge, season ticket holders signing up to become Academy Friends would be entitled to a free season ticket for 2015/16 if the Blues are promoted to the Premier League next season.

Town joint-managing director Ian Milne told the official site: “The Club is placing a huge emphasis on the development of players through the Academy, which we believe is vitally important if we are to compete with clubs both with and without Premier League parachute payments.

“We have a long tradition of developing home grown players and the club wants this to continue.

“To assist the club in its push for category one Academy status we have launched various fund-raising initiatives, the key one being the opportunity for season ticket holders to obtain a free Premier League season ticket if we are promoted next year for those pledging £10 per month to the Academy for season 2014/15.

“We have had great take up for the Pledge but we are, however, conscious that fans were not aware from our season ticket literature that the Academy pledge was an opt-out scheme until payment schedules were sent out. This was a mistake by the Club at the publishing stage and we apologise for that.

“While wanting to encourage support for the Academy, we also want to ensure that only those that want to contribute do so. We are therefore extending the opt-out period from the original date of April 17th to May 1st.”

Season ticket holders on the direct debit scheme can opt out by sending an email to seasonticketchange@itfc.co.uk or by phone on 0844 8011555 before the new May 1st deadline. Town will then send out a new payment schedule confirming the change.

Photo: Action Images

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itfcjoe added 12:00 - Apr 17
So was it a 'printing error' or not? Seems like a big backtrack to me....

Marcus_Evans added 12:04 - Apr 17
Joe - printing/publishing error is the same i'd say and he admitted that!

SouperJim added 12:14 - Apr 17
Finally an apology then, full credit TWTD!

Marcus added 12:24 - Apr 17
There's a problem with the wording. What if we're promoted this season and are relegated next season. Also what if we're promoted and stay up. The wording presumes we will be a Championship club next season while we're only outside the playoffs on goal difference with 12 points left to play for.

BotesdaleBlue added 12:29 - Apr 17
To blame mistakes in the application form is not the whole truth.

I heard Mr Milne interviewed on BBC Radio Suffolk the day the season ticket prices were announced (and before the season ticket packs were sent out). He and his fellow director spoke about the £120 academy initiative but CHOSE NOT to mention the way it would be collected - through automatic enrolment into the scheme. He had every opportunity on the airwaves to mention this significant fact BUT CHOSE NOT TO DO SO. A calculated act on their part I have no doubt.

The automatic enrolment was a major new development in the season ticket renewal process and one that fans would not have been aware of up to that point and not once did he explain HOW it would work, instead giving the entirely false impression it was an opt in fund raising initiative.

There is no excuse that I can see for not explaining this to Radio Suffolk listeners at the time when given ample opportunity to do so and for that fact alone I cannot forgive the club for its actions.

I regard this as calculated attempt to

blues1 added 12:50 - Apr 17
botesdaleblue. the reason it wouldn't have been explained on radio Suffolk is pretty obvious really. at that point the club hadn't realised there WAS an error and so presumed(wrongly) that the forms stated the correct information. while this was shoddy and unprofessional, to suggest its something more is frankly uncalled for. can only assume youre one of those fans who just wants to criticise the people running the club, rather than look at the facts 1st. the facts being, that the error wasn't found until after his appearance on radio Suffolk, and after the renewals had already been sent out. that shouldn't have happened, but they have now apologised for that error and have given people extra time to opt out if they wish. so you could at least give them some credit for that, even though I would agree it should have been done earlier.

olimar added 13:01 - Apr 17
@blues1 - There is more to it than a "printing error" because its about more than just a misplaced box on an application form. Every Direct Debit customer was sent a letter telling them that they didnt need to do anything, UNLESS they wanted to add a membership.

On the Season Ticket Application Form, it says that memberships CANNOT be added to a direct debit and need to be paid for separately. It also lists "Academy Friends" as an option under "memberships".

And furthermore, the back page of the Season Ticket Booklet also says fans have the choice to become Academy Friends.

Everything implies the same thing. Even if the Application Form was a printing error, what about the other documents too? Three different printing errors?

mutters added 13:28 - Apr 17
This whole thing blows as much as a norfolk lass on night out

mickymacsbarmyarmy added 13:33 - Apr 17
already spoken to the ticket office as to regards what happens if we get promoted this season....the rules of this season regarding promotion apply...half price season tickets to all that have them this season...to that i replied but you already due to start taking out money on 1st may for all 12 month direct debit fans...that will be knocked off the price of next year i was told...but even that i would say is a con,the price will no doubt go up so in reality you will probably still be paying near enough what you were anyway...will just be so funny if we did get to the promised land..all this admin work the club has done would be rendered obsolete !!

Paulc added 13:48 - Apr 17
Finally an apology!

It is still an abhorrent practice and very underhand, would be so much simpler to allow fans to 'opt in'. I wrote to the club on this matter 2 weeks ago tomorrow and am still waiting for my reply.
As I pointed out in the letter, Football is the only customer service business that knows it's customers simply can't take their business elsewhere, and exploits that loyalty to the hilt.

Still a case of SHAME ON YOU TOWN.

Paulc added 13:50 - Apr 17
To be clear the issue is NOT the 'printing error' it is the OPT IN PROCESS ITSELF, it's devious at best.

olimar added 14:30 - Apr 17
Whilst I agree that the Opt In process is very poor, the issue is exacerbated by the fact that it was entirely unrecorded anywhere. Not just that it was forgotten on a specific document. Every other reference to memberships, academy friends, the direct debit renewal did not mention this at all and, judging by the reaction, its evidently something that people would have wanted to know about. As mentioned above, nor was it brought up in media interviews. It seems remiss to say the least to talk about something and not feel, at any point, that it would be reasonable to point out how it was being sold.

As a friend was saying to me about this last weekend, there is an expectation that this would be highlighted and it would be bad enough if it was hidden amongst small print. But instead, much of the documentation actually intimates the complete opposite- you dont need to do anything, memberships need to be applied separately elsewhere.

BotesdaleBlue added 16:36 - Apr 17
blues1. You obviously have not understood my post. Ian Milne MUST have known on the day the prices were anounced to the public, that the club would try to add the subscription to the season ticket cost in the way that it has. BUT - and this is my point - he chose NOT to explain that to the supporters via the radio when he had the opportunity. That was all I was saying in the post; the printing error on the forms is a secondary and agrevating factor that has nothing to do with the point I was trying to make.


Mark added 16:56 - Apr 17
I think the whole principle of charging people for a 'product' they have not specifically opted-in to buy is wrong. It goes against good ethics and, I thought, the law. I suspect that if anyone later questions this on the basis they did not opt in that the club will have to refund them, regardless of the 'deadlines' the club tries to set.

Super_Cooper added 16:58 - Apr 17
Paulc - I am still waiting for a reply too.

RonFearonsHair added 16:59 - Apr 17
At last, an apology.

It's a shame we can't request that £10 of our normal season ticket money goes straight to the Academy.

docsavage52 added 17:02 - Apr 17
Was this raised at the AGM, if not, why not. They must have known about doing it then.

ipswichtillidie added 17:49 - Apr 17
It went something like.... I would like to opt out of the PPI academy pledge... Many thanks blah blah blah

JustSpivvyChops added 20:11 - Apr 17
One can't help but notice the striking similarities to the underhanded tactics of Sports Direct, who last year decided to take the step of automatically adding a large mug with "Sports Direct" written on it, or adding a Sports Direct magazine to every online order made by customers, in the process also adding £1 to the cost of goods in the basket......these automatic additions weren't stated anywhere on the order and the customer had no idea what was going on until the order arrived along with the invoice showing the charge of an extra £1.......of course this is doubly sneaky, because, as they know, many people are simply not going to go through the aggrevation of the hours of phone calls (which would likely cost more than £1) to their head office for the sake of £1??

This of course forms the basis of the fraud (yes it's fraud IMO to be charged for something you didn't order) as they know they will likely get away with it in most cases.

This automatic "opt in" is clearly IMO against the basic principles of contract law which says that both parties need to know what product and what price they are agreeing to.

It is clear in the Sports Direct case that the customer had no idea of the extra product that was being placed in their basket as it wasn't mentioned anywhere.

IMO this ITFC academy funding malarchy is far far worse, as it doesn't seek to not tell you about it, it actually gives the customer completely the wrong information and claims that it is an "opt in" scheme, when in fact it is an "opt out". This is misselling at the very best and blatant fraudulent activity at the very worst.

As others have pointed out this was no printing error, the very same information was peddled by the club through many information outlets. It was a clear attempt to misle fans out of an extra £120 and it seriously backfired (Sports Direct antics did not go down well with Watchdog and i'm sure ITFC don't want to be thrust into that same light).

Lastly, is it just coincidence that the owner of Sports Direct (the first household name to attempt this underhanded practice) happens to be a certain Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle FC?? Perhaps......perhaps not

JustSpivvyChops added 20:22 - Apr 17
*I meant to say founder, large shareholder and leader of the business....rather than owner, which wouldn't be strictly accurate

amurtiger added 20:44 - Apr 17
I cancelled my direct debit after a row with the ticket office. After having a season ticket for 20+ years I am not gona be conned.Big mistake Town, after the Sheff Wed game I will quite happily follow from a safe distance where I can't be ripped off. Loyal customers should be looked after not alienated, your loss

blues1 added 21:24 - Apr 17
botesdaleblue. I totally understood that he would have known how the money would be added. what he hadn't realised at that point was that the forms sent out had the wrong information. seems you've missed the point, if youd read his statement properly when this story 1st appeared youd have seen that he said these letters that you talking about should NOT have been sent out with the incorrect information over this. a cock up? yes, undoubtedly, anything more? no, don't think so. amurtiger, think youll find its ur loss not theirs. ur not being conned, they made an error. sure you've made them in the past, as have we all, and when you want to come back in the premier league, its gonna cost you an arm and a leg,so ur loss I think.

froudy added 21:32 - Apr 17
Blues1 - are you Marcus Evans/Ian Milne? If not, I fail to see why else you would stick up for the club in what is an abhorrently underhand practice, which I am not sure is legally permissible. Make no mistake...this was not an error.

amurtiger added 23:17 - Apr 17
Blues1 was you the muppet I had the row with lol. Premier league, pigs might fly. It is their loss, my cash with be safely in my pocket pri@k. Since Evans took over, this club has lost its spark, its a chore going to footy now, boring with the hope of a goal hopefully in the last few minutes. The club is underhanded, I will not be cheated.

Beattiesballbag added 00:27 - Apr 18

The printers don't change what they are asked to print, the printers don't make up these letters on their own accord & send them out with no approval.
Some one at ITFC thought it would be a good idea to try the underhand practice of hoping the customer will be to lazy to opt out ..........or even notice the extra charge has been added until it is to late!
For them to say this was an error is not an apology this is just avoiding admitting the truth, now there is a back lash.
I guess it will brake your heart to be told that the tooth fairy doesn't exist as well, but I think you ought to know that even parents can tell porkies.

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