Early in my career–golly, almost 20 years ago–a senior colleague once told me, “No one ever remembers if there’s a problem. What they remember is how you handled it.” I still remember that to this day, and my own office staff is probably sick of hearing me repeat it.
Yesterday, the SWB RailRiders handled my ticket problem with aplomb. Yes, I threw a hissy-fit on Twitter. For that I am not proud. But let me start the story at the beginning:
On March 15 I ordered a block of eight single-game tickets for a SWB RailRiders game. It was the first day that tickets went on sale, and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure if they were available at the office or not–perhaps only online. But, I’ll get back to that in a minute. The game in question is Saturday, July 6. It’s the first time the IronPigs will visit the newly remodeled PNC Field in Moosic. That’s kind of unusual, you know, as we usually face our in-state rivals very early in the season; it makes for a quick road trip during a time when all franchises are anxious to get Opening Day under their belt and get the season started. Perhaps they’re saving something special for us. Who knows.
Within a couple weeks of the order, I received the physical tickets from Ticketmaster. They’ve been in my briefcase ever since. Yesterday, just before 5PM, I received an email telling me that my tickets had been “canceled” and that new ones would be issued and sent to me at “no additional shipping charge.” The new seat location was on the opposite side of the field from the original seats. Part of the reason I ordered the tickets so soon in the season was in order to insure that my seat/group location was on the IronPigs side of the field. I was not pleased that it was changed. The email came from Ticketmaster and the only contact information was to reply to the email. I did, but received no immediate response–not even an auto-reply.
As 5 o’clock approached, I did not know whether the RailRiders were home or away for the evening (turns out they were home) so I picked up the phone hoping to catch somebody there during business hours. A nice young lady tried to help me–even put me on hold to check–but ultimately I was directed back to Ticketmaster, because that is where I bought the tickets (online, via TicketMaster). She gave me a customer care number for Ticketmaster.
After an on-hold wait of about 10 minutes, a nice young man from Ticketmaster attempted to help. I had to provide him with my name and address, my credit card number, and my order number. He said that he could not help because there were no other seats available. I asked him to explain what happened. He said that the tickets had been “double sold” at the venue and online at the same time. I asked him why it took almost three months to contact me about such a problem, because the transaction occurred on March 15. He did not know.
My hissy-fit ensued. It’s not that the new seats were that bad, just that they were the complete opposite location of what I had planned for back in March. And it wasn’t just for me, but for seven others as well.
But, by the time I made my way to the back yard to get the grill started for dinner, I had a tweet-reply from Doug in the RailRiders’ ticket office. I sent him an email and he gave me a call. He apologized profusely for the mix-up. He promised he would fix the problem, and more. He gathered a bit of information, then promised to call or email back. Within a few minutes I had an email with an offer for new, better tickets on the IronPigs side, along with some goodies for my trouble.
Doug wouldn’t elaborate on the problem; he was too professional and courteous to point fingers. I would guess that the problem stemmed from a ticket package that was sold recently at the stadium, which over-lapped my original tickets–but that’s only a guess. I’d also guess that Doug would like his ticket staff to try to handle the problem directly or kick it up the ladder there in Moosic rather than referring folks back to Ticketmaster. But again, conjecture on my part as to the source of the problem. I did get the impression that this was an isolated incident and not an ongoing problem.
My lesson, though, and one I’ve learned before but not always heeded: When possible, purchase tickets directly from/at the facility. It often saves on fees and could prevent confusion. As we’ve seen recently with the IronPigs, there are sometimes additional seats available which may not show up in the online system. It never hurts to ask. When I went to a Reading Royals hockey game last season, the staff at will-call could not believe the amount of fees I had to pay. They were adamant that I call them directly in the future to purchase tickets.
But I digress; Doug really handled it well, and quickly. I’m certainly looking forward to the game, and will probably go to more than one up there this summer. Of course, I’ll remember how he handled the problem. Kudos to him and his staff for getting things done and doing it so quickly. Now, if Doug can just get me into the sold-out club level next time.
Epilogue: I got an auto-response from Ticketmaster later in the evening–long after Doug had solved the problem.
See you at the park–one of them anyway…