As most of you know I recently had some very unpleasant dealings with the ticketmaster people. I bought my tickets for the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang show on a Friday and somehow stupidly managed to misplace them by the Sunday. Totally my fault and I can blame no-one but myself for that. In my defense I had bought them at the end of a very long and tiring week which saw me haul myself daily across the city, in order to get my son to a summer camp that I knew would be of huge benefit to him. It was the week that I lived out of my car and out of many bags from 8.30am to 4.40pm every day . All for my son who is on the Autistic Spectrum.
Not that any of that is of any interest to the machine that is the ticketmaster organisation.
I bought the tickets at the ticketmaster (Joe-El Tickets) booth in the Omni Centre, with my laser card. I was given the tickets AND RECEIPT in an envelope that I immediately put into my bag and minded carefully all that day. They made it home, of that I was 99% sure, but after that no sign. I searched everywhere numerous times but could not locate them.
I immediately contacted ticketmaster and this is how it went....
My initial contact was with Joe of Joe-El Tickets. I rang him a number of times. He is a very nice man who was terribly sorry that he could do nothing for me. Like Manuel of Fawlty Towers fame he had nothing, could do nothing and knew nothing. All I have is a printing machine... I just print the tickets..... no records of cards used etc....you have to ring Head Office....I have to go there's a big queue/the machine is printing/I'm putting a credit card payment through...etc; etc; etc.
Seriously, every call was ended in this fashion. If I didn't know better I'd think he was trying to get away from the mad/distraught lady on the line. Yeah, that would be me. Maybe he was uncomfortable about the fact that I always questioned why he had no supporting bank receipts (apart from till rolls, perhaps) for his sales? But hey, that might be just the ex- Revenue Auditor in me.
I also rang Head Office. A number of times. They were very nice also, well, they were on the first call. Not so nice after that. The first guy was very sorry but..... nothing we can do without a receipt..... or Account number....and NO...it won't help at all if you got your bank to confirm precisely when and where your card was used ..... erm, sorry, nothing I can do etc; etc; etc.
The last "sorry" was in reference to me mentioning that my son was on the Autistic Spectrum and would be particularly upset if we couldn't go.
Never one to give up I phoned my bank (in between manic searches of the house) and established that my card was used at PRECISELY 11.42am on a certain date in.....Joe-El Tickets.
I then rang the Grand Canal Theatre , after a very good friend had made initial inquiries on my behalf. It took the Theatre all of three minutes to establish what two phone calls to ticketmaster could not. They found my seats....it was easy..... they were the only seats on that row that was not given an account i.e. they had no name attached to them. The Theatre ALWAYS makes an account for every sale.The Theatre had no problem in accepting a bank statement as proof of payment.
The Theatre made the next contact with the ticketmaster machine (that was slowly morphing into a monster) and was told, in no uncertain terms, that they were NOT to re-print those tickets and ....there's nothing we can do.... yes...those two seats were sold at that time, on that day and at that shop...nothing we can do.... she has no receipt .....she's already been told no....etc; etc; etc.
I baulked at the she's already been toldno bit. My hackles were raised.
I checked their website . They can help in some cases, very rarely, but it's discretionary. In cases where they do agree to reprint tickets you turn up with your account number, photo ID and.....the credit card used to purchase the ticket! I kid you not. According to our National Consumers Agency concert tickets do not fall under the Sale of Goods Act 1980 ....in actual fact the tickets themselves are deemed to be the receipt. So they don't have to accept the Bank Statement then. Or my actual Laser Card.
They don't HAVE to. But they could use their discretion...right? After all, these are hard recessionary times, lots of businesses are struggling and want to keep the customers that they have....right??
I contacted head Office again and this is where the Machine that is ticketmaster became more of an army. A veritable well trained Gestapo. They battened down the hatches, closed ranks...all-for-one and one-for-all and all that malarkey... and the shutters came crashing down one by one.
This time I spoke to Louise, who was extremely well trained in ticketmaster-speak. Sigh. That deja-vu feeling all over again ... sorry...nothing we can do...no you can't speak to the manager....you won't be told any different...no receipt means no re-printing of tickets.... etc; etc; etc.
If I'd been playing a record it would be broken by now.
I battled on bravely, in the face of immense adversity.... I queried all sorts of things like why am I paying a booking fee if he doesn't keep any supporting records to link a customer to a particular sale?
Because he's the agent..... apparently.
They are Head Office but he's his own company. A Franchise as it were. Responsible for his own records then? Quite a confusing set-up, I thought. So I asked what instructions they give their franchises as regards the back-up records they require them to keep? That is not information we give to the public...it is none of your concern... etc; etc; etc.
Oh yes it is darlin', when I'm in a dispute with you over frigging tickets! Okay, okay...I was stupid enough to lose them but this can't be the first time this has happened. Don't you even try to ensure that back up records are retained to support your customers? Like...providing good...what's that phrase again? Oh yeah.... Good Customer Service?? (Of course, it was afterwards that I realised they were only only concerned with following their strict policies ...to the letter...regardless of circumstances.)
I have to go...we only deal with phone and online bookings.... Right...you wanna get away from the mad/distraught lady too then?
Anyway suffice it to say although she was reasonably polite, Louise was very unhelpful. They are trained that way I guess. It seemed to me that once you're told "No" it STAYS "No" and therefore no discretion allowed. Under ANY circumstance. The only person that can allow discretion, I reckon, is a manager and I was refused access to a manager...even though I asked a number of times. I guess if the Louises of the company passed a caller on to a manager it would be akin to committing a cardinal sin and would be relentlessly punished. So good customer service goes by the way side.
The maddening thing is that I know of other similar situations where duplicate tickets were issued, or they were allowed into the venue without tickets. Yeah, that's right...no tickets. They phoned the shop and the shop could confirm that those seats were bought there. See....it CAN be done.
For some unfathomable reason they were brutally intent on being as unhelpful to me as possible... even though I blatantly played the Autism card and the recession card... in desperation. It seems to me that the main stumbling block was that I didn't have an account number with them. The shop I bought them in didn't support their sales with such supporting documentation and the one thing that displayed that information THEY put in an envelope WITH the tickets that I subsequently mislaid.
Was it really to much to expect that they should accept my Laser Card with supporting back up from my bank as proof of purchase? After all my card could not have been used to purchase anything else other than those tickets that the shop sold at the exact same time my card was used.
In my opinion ticketmaster dealt with my inquiries in an under-handed, short-sighted, pedantic way. Morally reprehensible I feel.
They should take a step out from behind the many shutters they hide behind and realise...that there's a recession on. Value your customers.
Shame on you ticketmaster.
Although I got nowhere with ticketmaster and my issue went unresolved, Grand Canal Theatre displayed a far better business sense and showed how much they value their customers. I had a personal contact who made alternative arrangements for me to see the show. As a result of that fabulous Customer Service I bought my tickets for FameThe Musical directly from the Theatre. It's okay, I know exactly where I put these tickets!
I know the Grand Canal Theatre Box Office is run by ticketmaster but I was making a statement. Besides, it's run far better than Head Office with pleasant, understanding and customer orientated staff. With excellent business sense. Take a bow GCT. I will be frequenting your premises again.
But I will be avoiding ticketmaster and their shopping Centre booths as much as possible.
Here's some tips to avoid getting caught like me...
1) Don't lose your tickets! Simple as that. Never distractedly put them away...be aware of where you are putting them.
2) ALWAYS keep your receipt separately from your tickets.
3) Buy them direct from venues whenever possible. No handling charges either and they make customer accounts.
4)NEVER buy your tickets with cash. Absolutely no proof if you lose the receipt.
5) Avoid buying them in ticketmaster booths that don't keep records to link customers with individual sales. If this is unavoidable INSIST that they take down your name and details. I was advised that they have an option on their system to allow them do this but most choose not to. Joe-El Manuelknows nothing about this....
6) If you must buy them with ticketmaster then buy them online. More expensive but at least you get an email with an Account Number on it making it easier to provide proof of purchase.
And yes, the tickets did finally resurface. Two days ago, a week after the performance. Down the back of the settee. That I searched numerous times.....
NOTE: Names have not been changed to protect the guilty...they were advised, more than once, that I would be writing about this and neither made any objections.