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Denver Broncos Data Audit Throws Fan Off The Ranch

Justin Crotty and his son before the ticket snub.
Justin Crotty and his son before the ticket snub.

Justin Crotty is frustrated.

The Senior Vice President of NetEnrich is a lifelong Denver Broncos fan and has been a season ticket holder for more than 20 years. But after an audit of last year’s season, the organization cancelled his subscription.

Crotty isn’t alone. Various reports suggest hundreds of people had their accounts frozen or cancelled after an audit by the Broncos. The team was reportedly looking for anyone who may have been selling tickets for profit. Crotty says he received a form email a little over three weeks ago, cancelling his account. He was told it was because he hadn’t personally been to a game that season.

For Crotty, who was born and raised in Colorado, the news was difficult to handle. “It's frustrating,” he tells ChannelE2E. “At first I was very distressed. But then in the subsequent days I'm just kind of shocked that they would treat account holders like this.”

The Ticket Exchange

For the uninitiated, the NFL operates a ticket exchange. It’s an online marketplace where people can sell or exchange tickets for games they can’t attend. The seller receives a check from the team or credit in their account to towards future purchases.

In 2016, Crotty sold all his tickets on the exchange and kept the money in his account. It was the first year he never attended a game. “I was basically letting it sit in the account and funding future season ticket acquisitions through it. So I wasn't making any money,” he says.

He says the Broncos withdrew the money from his account and sent him a check. The check was cut before he received the email telling him of the cancellation. “The check didn't arrive until after I got the email, but it was cut before the email was sent.”

In the 23 years he’s had his season tickets, Crotty says this is the first time he can remember an audit. “There was no official rule that said you have to use your tickets yourself, or at least some portion of them yourself each year. But they cancelled all the accounts of anybody who had not personally attended a game.”

A Solid Defense

In past years, he’s given tickets to his father when he couldn’t go. But his dad is getting older and doesn’t like to attend games as much as he used to. In one instance, Crotty was actually in Denver with tickets, ready to see the Broncos play the Raiders. A few days before the game though, he came down with the flu and decided to give someone else an opportunity to go.

Since the organization made the decision to cancel his account, Crotty says it’s been impossible to talk to a real person. “I'm just trying to get a live human being on the phone that's empowered to make a decision. For or against me at this point. I just want the chance to state my claim,” Crotty says.

ChannelE2E reached out to the Broncos seeking comment on April 3. We have not received a reply.

The Big Data Blitz?

Was big data somehow to blame here? By closely monitoring where and how tickets are resold, the Broncos may have been looking to weed out scalpers and other unscrupulous ticket owners. But in the process, they gave Crotty -- a Broncos fanatic -- the boot.

For his part, Crotty thinks the organization was right in trying to weed out any dubious accounts. Those held by people reselling tickets for profits, rather than by fans. “It's stupid as a grown man to say it, but I enjoy following the team. Those Broncos tickets were cherished,” he says. “But I understand what they're trying to do, so as a business owner, a business executive, I understand the effort.”

Companies make mistakes. But they need to be open-minded and willing to talk to customers their policies impact. “When you do something like that you've got to be prepared to examine the one-off cases that turn up and potentially reconsider ,” Crotty says.

But in this case, he thinks the Broncos found themselves unprepared to address the legitimate reasons customers may have had for missing games.

The list of people waiting for season tickets is nearly 75,000 names long. So it’s unlikely that, even if the organization admitted there was a mistake, Crotty and people like him would have their accounts reinstated. “It's not like I'll ever get those tickets again,” he laughs. “I can't get back on the list. I won't live long enough.”