Leadership / 01.06.21
A Customer Asked You What?! True Stories from the Ticket Office
Has there ever been a dull day in your ticket office? Customers and fans can be pretty funny people, so we’ve looked far and wide to find some of the most comical questions you have ever been asked. Here’s what we discovered by asking INTIX members and seeing what you’re sharing in social media groups. Here, in no particular order but for your absolute amusement, we present funny questions from the ticket office.
Here’s an excerpt from an actual email received, shared by Jacque Holowaty of Seattle: “I ordered my tickets weeks ago, and I have still not heard from Will. I chose the option for Will to call me and he hasn’t yet.”
Will is indeed a popular guy.
David Kennedy of Pittsburgh has heard similar questions about will call: “Is somebody going to call me? Am I supposed to call someone when I get there?”
Or there is, “Who is Will? And when will he call me?” as shared by Jonathan Levy from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Katie Engel of Tacoma, Washington, remembers a time when she couldn’t find a patron’s tickets at will call. The usual questions were repeatedly asked, including whether they could be under any other names. “He was starting to get rude and yell at me,” says Katie. “I finally swiped his credit card and got to ask, ‘Any chance you put the tickets under Captain Picard?’ He got real sheepish fast and said, ‘Oh, I forgot I did that, ha ha’ as his wife smacked him and made him apologize.”
Chloe Watson of Arlington Heights, Illinois, has a fun will call story, too. “A customer looked at each of the windows, A-F, G-L, etc. She approached me and said, ‘But I don’t know what row I’m in.’”
As Heard on the Phones
“I used to work in customer support for a major ticketing platform,” says Krissy Spear of San Francisco. “An older gentleman called to ask, ‘What shows are happening tonight in LA?’ and wanted me to list every single event happening in Los Angeles — on a Saturday night.”
As a ticket agent, Kate Gargiulo of Los Angeles once had this conversation:
Kate: “This is a final sale; no refunds or exchanges.”
Patron: “Well, what if YOU cancel the performance?”
Kate: “Well, sir, as the person answering the phones, I don’t actually have the power to cancel any shows.”
When working in Chicago for the worldwide sensation show “Shear Madness,” which is set in a salon, Carol Havlik took a call from a man who was quite upset. Why? “His girlfriend had ordered from Sheer Madness and wondered where her lingerie was,” Carol says.
“We had ‘In the Mood’ scheduled,” says Stefani Schrader at Kansas State. “It canceled. During calls, a customer didn’t quite understand the teller and said, ‘What’s canceled? In the nude?! What?!”
Maureen Andersen, our INTIX President and CEO, shares this question from a customer call that she will never forget: “I saw the review in the Denver Post today and they talked about the dirty words in the play. Can you make sure they don’t use them the night I come?”
Maureen’s ticket agents had a great sense of humor, too. “One afternoon, a particular pesky customer kept yelling at one of my agents about her seat locations for some show, and in those days we could listen in on the calls,” she says. “The customer said, ‘Don’t you know who I am? I’ll use my clout.’ The wonderful agent quickly replied, ‘Ma’am we only take Visa and Mastercard.’ Then she hung up.”
Tiffany Equitable Feltner has had some funny conversations, too:
Tiffany: “Ma’am, I think you left your cane here after the concert last night.”
Guest: “Oh! Someone pissed me off and I tore the hell out of there!”
Tiffany: “You got so angry that you forgot you need a cane?”
Me: “OK, so I’ll just leave it at the front desk, I guess.”
Location, Location, Location
“I have always enjoyed the question, ‘What’s GA?’ or ‘Where is GA located’ while there is a giant grass area on the venue map labeled ‘General Admission,’” says Whitney Goulish of West Palm Beach, Florida.
Jane Everhart was once standing in front of the stairs in a venue. A customer approached …
Customer: “Excuse me, how do I get downstairs?”
Jane: “Do you see these stairs right here?”
Jane: “Go down them.”
“I’m aging myself here,” says Andrea Gow of Orange County, California, “but I had a lady yell at me from a line at an outlet. She wanted to know which outlet computer was getting the front-row tickets. Because I must print the tickets and take them to each computer.”
Nicole Raymond shares this question received by a ticket seller at Target Center: “How do I find my seats? I’m on Google Maps, but I can’t find my seats.”
Tiffany Equitable Feltner was once sitting under a branded tent, with two box office signs and a branded tablecloth. A guest approached …
Guest: “Is this the box office?”
Guest: “You guys should really get a sign or something.”
Sometimes customers can be very helpful at the ticket office, says Maureen Andersen. “While having a contentious conversation with some voices being raised, the customer behind the loud one said, ‘Ma’am, I have a gun in my car. Do you want me to go get it to help you out?”
Just the Fax
“I had a customer ask to fax me a check to hold the seat she wanted,” says Jamie L. Brouse.
“We once had a patron fax us $4 cash trying to cover their exchange fee,” says Kay Burnham.
When it Rains, it Pours
“I’ve been asked several times if Yankee Stadium and Citi Field could close the roof instead of a rainout or delay,” says Rae Anne McLaughlin of New York City.
There are definitely some great minds that think alike out there, based on this story shared by Danny Frank:
Q: “Can you tell me what the weather will be for the game on Saturday?”
A: “Sorry, ma’am. I am not sure of the weather.”
Q: “I need to know whether I need to bring an umbrella to the game in case it is going to rain!”
A: “Ma’am, the game is in the Georgia Dome.”
Q: “Sir, I know the game is in the Georgia Dome, but if it is raining during the game, I need an umbrella.”
“I guess they didn’t understand the meaning of the word DOME!” laughs Danny.
Timing Is Everything
“I loved getting yelled at by ticketholders when the show would start on time and they arrived late,” says Katie Clow. “People thought that we would just wait for everyone to arrive before starting the show. No, curtain time is curtain time. We already have your money, so it’s up to you when you want to join us.”
In the U.K., there appears to be an interesting understanding of the time on the tickets, too. “So many times [I’ve heard], ‘I thought it was arrival time,’” says Evan S. from London.
Regarding artist appearances during specific show times, Shawn Robertson has been asked:
Q: “Does Will Rogers perform in the matinees for ‘The Will Rogers Follies’ as well as the evening shows?”
A: “He’s dead.”
Q: “So, that’s a no?”
A: “Umm …”
We could be singing some famous Beatles lyrics, “Here comes the sun, do, dun, do, do,” after hearing this question shared by Danny Frank:
Q: What time is the Paul McCartney concert tomorrow night?
A: 8 o’clock.
Q: Is that a.m. or p.m.?
A death or serious medical emergency in the house brings up customer questions that you will not believe, even if you hear them yourself. “I had a subscriber die in his seat,” says Maureen Andersen. “The next day another subscriber called and said, ‘I was in the theater last night, and I know that the guy in Row E on the aisle died; can I have his seats?’”
Or there was the night at the sold out “Phantom of the Opera” performance, Maureen remembers. “A man suffered a heart attack in the sound lock, and a patron came over and said, ‘I know he’s not using his seats tonight; can I have them?’”
Someone Actually Said That?!
Tiffany Equitable Feltner has more all-time favorites when it comes to hilarious ticket office tales. This one is not a question, but it is too funny not to share: “I’m sorry, I can’t renew my subscription because you moved the concerts to Thursday night, and Thursday night is sex night.”
Also, from Tiffany and related to a renewal, but this time on a form: “No fat people nearby. Or tall people. I bet you’re laughing now, huh?”
Jacque Holowaty shares this story as experienced by Danielle Pope. It’s one of Jacque’s favorites! The show was “Walking with Dinosaurs,” and Danielle was in the ticket office. A guest leaned in closely and in a quiet and slightly scared voice, asked, “They aren’t real dinosaurs, are they?” Danielle’s response, “Umm, no ma’am. I think dinosaurs are extinct.”
“And then there are the customers who always asked about every Broadway show we ever had,” says Maureen Andersen. Their question: “Is this the original cast?”
This story comes from Hash Bash in Ann Arbor in 2009 where Cheech and Chong were playing an 80% full house. Natalie Hensel shares, “Patron takes a big drag and puts his mouth up to the box office hole and says, ‘Ehhhhh, what are you doing in here?’”
I guess we can call this a request for a payment plan: “I need tickets for the concert on Tuesday, but I don’t get paid until Friday,” a customer told Brent McNamee of Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. “Can I just pay for the tickets then?”
Equally puzzling is this customer question as shared by Shawn Robertson: “I received an email earlier about a show or an offer or something. Can you tell me what the email said?”
Gary Lustig shares these four funny questions, in no particular order: “Can I bring my pet rabbit to the concert? Will there be fireworks at the July 4th Fireworks Picnic concert? When you say the seat has an obstructed view, do you mean my view will be obstructed? If a box has four seats, do I need to buy all four tickets if I want to bring four people?”
Yes, I’m shaking my head too!
When Age Matters
Here’s another customer conversation as recalled by Brent McNamee: “Hi. I would like two tickets for Metallica, please. Are there any age restrictions? These are for kids that are 8 and 10.”
Brent has also been asked, “I understand there’s a discount for children. How old are my children?”
On the topic of age restrictions, Shawn Robertson has had this discussion:
Q: “Your website says, ‘No children under 6 allowed in the theatre,’ but my child is well behaved.”
A: “Well, it isn’t a children’s show. It’s ‘August: Osage County.’”
Gone to the Dogs?
And to close things out, we look to a paws-itively wonderful example that not everything goes awry, or to the dogs, in the ticket office.
“We have a box office dog,” says Rachel Harper of Baltimore. “He is incredibly popular, and people often ask if he is at work. But the most common question is, ‘Is that a real dog?’ The answer is yes. And he has his own Instagram account.”
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Tags: Leadership , Ticket Office