partypoker Finally Eliminates Account Inactivity Fees

Online poker room partypoker announced Wednesday that it has finally done something that was long overdue: it has eliminated account inactivity fees. The decision was made “….as part of its pledge to listen carefully to player feedback and respond positively to suggestions for improvements,” though one could clearly argue that listening to players when the fees were implemented ten years ago would have been a better idea.

Party Poker LogoIn a blog post, partypoker blames “previous management” for instituting the fee system in October 2007, but then again, it wasn’t until now that it was removed. The “small” fee was not really that small, either. If a player was inactive for 180 days – that is, a player did not make a deposit or play for real money in that time – a fee of €5.00 would be deducted from the account balance on day 181. That same fee was taken every 30 days thereafter.

Players with zero balances would not have any money removed; they wouldn’t be in debt to partypoker. Someone with a balance below €5.00 would have the rest of their funds taken, their balance being reduced to zero.

For some people with very large balances, €5.00 might not be that much, but most players are fairly low-rollers. When I used to play at partypoker, for instance, I played low stakes. At any given time, I might have had €200 in my account (I used U.S. dollars, but we’ll just go with Euro for consistency). Having a 2.5% fee taken from my account is not all that insignificant. And then, if I don’t go back, that fee gets larger and larger in relation to my bankroll. It adds up in a hurry.

People were understandably pissed when the inactivity fee was discovered; most didn’t even realize it existed until they logged in after a long time away.

What’s kind of nuts is that partypoker’s inactivity fee was far from the most punitive in the industry. Absolute Poker would take players’ entire account balances if they didn’t login for 90 days. UltimateBet would do the same after 180 days. Personally, I had my entire balance drained by an online poker room a few years ago. I hadn’t been playing after Black Friday but remembered I had some money on a site (I think it was Juicy Stakes); when I finally logged back in to play a $5 Sit & Go, I found that my balance was zero.

Partypoker says that it did reimburse players their inactive account fees if they started playing again, but that is not in their terms and conditions, as far as I can tell.

“The removal of the inactivity fee is just one of a raft of measures aimed at improving the player experience on partypoker,” the poker room said. “Last year, all withdrawal fees were abolished so players could access their winnings free of any charges, regardless of the payment option used.”

How nice of partypoker to do that.

In the blog post, partypoker ambassador Patrick Leonard gave his two cents:

It can be very frustrating for players who have taken a break from the game to find that the inactivity fee has been charged. It has always been super easy to reactivate accounts and get the fee refunded but often people are just getting on with their lives and totally forget about it. I think removing this fee altogether will be widely welcomed in the poker community and it also shows that partypoker really is making good on its promise to take players’ opinions into account. There are some big changes happening in the near future including further improvements to our new lobby and table design. Online poker is starting to become the cool thing to do after work and at weekends again and right now there’s no better place than partypoker.

Mike Sexton, who recently retired from his long-time post as World Poker Tour announcer to become Chairman of partypoker, said, in part, “Sometimes players wish to take a break from the game, for whatever reason, without having to worry about their account balances. Players should not be charged an inactivity fee and we are pleased to be removing this historical charge with immediate effect. We also want to reassure players that, of course, they will be welcomed back at any time.”

This announcement, along with the quotes from Leonard and Sexton, smell a little of patting themselves on the back. “Hey, look at how great we are, what with removing those shit inactivity fees and all.”

But I’ll admit that that might just be me being skeptical. It is definitely appreciated that partypoker management decided to do away with the punitive fees, even if it costs the company money. Sometimes there is just a cost to doing business; not every expense always has to be passed along to the customer. I may be a little snarky about it, but I will also give kudos to partypoker for doing right by its players.

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