Leadership / 09.01.21
Tales from the Ticket Office: The Reopening
By all accounts, ticketing professionals are overjoyed to be back at work and once again welcoming customers and fans as venue doors reopen. Many are also remembering the joy of dealing with those guests. There is glee, there is anticipation, and then there are those conversations and questions that make us laugh and laugh and laugh!
So, with the return to live comes the next edition in our INTIX “Tales from the Ticket Office” series. And, yes, these are all true stories we have collected from vast corners of the INTIX universe and social channels for your amusement and delight.
Rachelle Walsh has been in ticketing for 25 years. “Here is a first for me,” she shares. “A patron called about a show that was just announced. They said, ‘I see that the price is depending on location. I am in [insert name of city 25 miles away]. How do I know how much my ticket will be?’”
Ticketing professionals are always working to make their customers happy, and Amber Patton is no exception:
Amber: “I’d be happy to put you in the rear of the theater on an aisle if it makes you more comfortable.”
Customer: “What’s an aisle?”
Amber’s contributions to our reopening story do not stop there.
“This is an email I received,” she shares. “Anyone familiar with the ‘e d Doo Doo’ show?! Of course the 10-year-old child that lives inside of me was like, ‘heh heh … doo doo …’”
Actual snippet from email
Of course, we had to find out where the story went from there!
“The guy who sent the email ended up being a real jokester and charmer,” Amber says. “I ended up calling him.”
This is how the conversation went down:
Amber: “Hey, [name]. I heard you’re interested in our doo doo show here.”
Customer: (Laughs) “Yeah, I laughed to myself after I sent that. Autocorrect sure is sh!&%y, isn’t it? See what I did there?”
Amber: “You’re a gas!”
Customer: “Amber, I am not putting up with this crap!”
“We got a huge laugh out of the whole thing,” Amber says. “These are the customers who make my day so much better!”
We wish we could say that Ashley Voorhees’ customer experience ended similarly. Handing tickets over through the box office window, a customer said, “There may or may not be urine on these tickets. Could you reprint them for me?”
On the Phones
Angie White Blaisdell received a call, “Can we go inside when the doors open?”
I’m shaking my head at that one!
An actual customer voicemail, as shared by Carolyn Andrews: “All of my tickets arrived except for the one at the other theater you are performing at this season. Where is this ticket? Maybe you sent me an email about it that I didn’t read or maybe deleted. Call me back.”
Carolyn explains, “In the email the tickets were sent with, it specifically said ‘we are still finalizing seats with this theater, tickets will be coming later.’”
Maryse La Baronne has received some angry voice mails, too, ending with, “I demand you call me back!” And they leave neither their name nor their phone number.
Then there’s this conversation, as shared by Pam Hamrick.
Assistant Box Office Manager: “NASCAR Hall of Fame, how can I help you?”
Customer: “Hi, I need to change the seats for my ticket.”
ABOM: “OK, we do not have assigned seats at our facility. What type of tickets did you buy?”
Customer: “Season passes for all of the home games.”
ABOM: “OK, did you receive a confirmation email from us? If so, what is your order number?”
Customer: “I don’t have an order number.”
ABOM: “OK, what is your first and last name?”
Customer: *provides name*
ABOM: “I do not see your name in our system. Can you read to me the subject line from the email you got from us?”
Customer: “Sure! ‘BANK OF AMERICA STADIUM SEASON PASS CONFIRMATION.’
ABOM: “OK, ma’am, the NASCAR Hall of Fame does not handle any tickets or seat reservations for other venues.”
Customer: “But I need to change my seats.”
ABOM: “The Bank of America Stadium should be able to assist with that.”
Customer: “THAT’S WHY I CALLED YOU?!”
ABOM: “We are not affiliated with that venue. I can look up their number for you if you would like.”
Customer: “NO, I WILL BE CALLING THEM MYSELF TO LET THEM KNOW THAT THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME WAS OF NO HELP!” *hangs up*
This. Isn’t. A. Joke.
Jane Everhart finds the NASCAR Hall of Fame conversation funny and sad at the same time, saying, “I had a guy argue with me for about 15 minutes [recently] that SeatGeek and Ticketmaster were all on the same network now, and I should be able to find his SeatGeek order ‘no problem.’ I sure wish someone would have filled me in on that information.”
Karen Tomlinson Sullivan “did the same dance with StubHub and Ticketmaster” at a recent Guns N’ Roses show. “Never ends,” she says.
Not to be outdone, Lori Murphy shares that a fan showed up to a recent concert with soccer tickets. “Wrong event, wrong venue!”
Apparently, this sort of thing is happening a lot these days. Looks like customers have forgotten how it works and need a re-train as well.
“I had someone come with Yankees versus not the Orioles at the Yankees to an O’s game Saturday. We were playing Tampa,” says Molly Hopkins.
“I’ve had them show up with Britney Spears, wrong date, wrong venue and wrong city,” Pam Hamrick says.
Christy Grantham is now getting calls from guests who have bought resale tickets to events at other venues and want to complain or commiserate about it. “So, not only do I have to take time to explain to our guests about resale tickets because the resellers can’t be bothered to take care of their customers, but now I am doing it for other venues as well? I guess I should be glad they’re coming to me; it means they trust me, right? That part is nice.”
Colleen Moriarty has had calls from customers who bought tickets from resellers, too. “My last call like this, I tried explaining everything to the caller, and they just got mad and hung up on me. At least I know I tried to help.”
Christy Grantham continues, “I had a guest keep me on the phone for over half an hour once, trying to convince me that we should ‘make it right’ — either refund her money or just give her tickets to that show. I tried to explain that she paid someone else for the tickets. It is like buying a Big Mac from Arby’s and expecting McDonald’s to give you the sandwich or money. She did not get it! She even said we should set up a fund to help pay people back when they get shafted by unscrupulous resellers. A fund? From where? Does she think we just MagicWavyHands™ and money appears? If we could do that, why would we even bother to sell tickets? Why not just give them away? I suggest[ed] she help us fundraise for said fund, but she wasn’t interested.”
Ashley Dillow would like to know when this fund is established. “I have a lady that we ‘owe’ money to because she came to an event and ‘didn't have money to make it back home,’ so we were supposed to pay her back money to get home. It will be nice to settle that account.”
“I had someone drive over an hour to buy tickets from the box office — for a different venue that they live 10 minutes from,” says Octavia Benson.
Allison Walker had a customer huff into the box office. The issue? He was upset about having to fill out the renewal form for his subscription of over 10 years, telling Allison he has “never had to pick his own seats and fill out a form.” Allison kindly pointed to the “We held your seats!” box in the upper corner of his mail-merged renewal form, complete with exact seat locations. He angrily huffed, “Well, I wish I had seen that before I drove down here!”
Amber Patton had a customer arrive at the box office recently when she was “in the area.” Shares Amber, “I had a lady come up to the window and complain and rant and whine that she was charged $2 to mail her physical tickets, and that a stamp only costs 55 cents, and she wanted her $1.45. And she was dead serious. So, I have a drawer to my desk where I keep change found in the hallways, randomly from the depths of my work bag, etc., and I counted out $1.45 in pennies, dimes and nickels, handed it to her and then politely told her next time she should choose print at home or mobile tickets.”
What would a Tales from the Ticket Office story be without something about that guy named Will?
“I missed the show because you never called me. You said you ‘will call’ with the tickets.” That’s a good one, thanks, Aren Murray!
As told by Tish Garrett: When asked for identification to pick up tickets, fan responds, “I don’t have any, but my name is sewn on my shirt.”
Just the Fax
As told by Mark Arata: “Customer faxes their order in, then calls me and asks me to fax the form back to her because she ‘doesn’t want me to be able to keep her information.’”
Throwbacks, Just Because We Can!
Reopening customer antics are hilarious and oh-so-LOL-worthy, but who doesn’t love a great throwback or four?
“At least once a year, we get asked if our outdoor amphitheater is air conditioned,” says Rebecca Gordon Simmons.
From Hatti Simpson: “One of my favorites from when I worked in Cambridge was working the daytime box office desk in the venue, which was about a 10-minute walk away from the train station. A customer comes in asking for a return to Kings Cross, to which we just stare at him for a few seconds trying to figure out if we have an obscure band or circus act or something by that name, before realizing he was asking for a train ticket. Honestly, the box office could not have looked less like a station, but it took a surprising amount of convincing that he definitely could not get trains from here. He was pretty insistent that he had bought train tickets from us before!”
Hatti continues, “While I was working at Cambridge Junction, we would often get confused with Cambridge Corn Exchange — a fair mistake to make and not too far away to get between. While I was working at another theater in Cambridge, we had one couple arrive from out of town about 20 minutes before curtain up one evening for a performance of a big musical that they were really excited to see for their anniversary. Very unfortunately for them, their tickets were for Cambridge Theatre in London, which was about two hours away via bus and train. I am sure they could laugh about it later, but they understandably were not happy at the time!”
And then there is this document, which seems like something every ticketing professional should have.
“I have been carrying this piece of paper around since 1998,” says Rebecca Gordon Bloom. “The staff at House of Blues Orlando started this, and it still makes me laugh. Some are definitely specific for Orlando on Disney Property but most are the usual crazy questions.”
A scanned document titled “Real Questions Asked at the Box Office.”
The tales we tell are part of our collective history, and they illuminate the fun and games we get every day in a ticket office. Indeed, the public never fails to give us a laugh or two! INTIX is always looking for great customer stories, so don’t be shy — if you have one (or many), feel free to share with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Leadership , Workplace , Ticket Office