How Wehrenberg almost ruined our family movie day

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This definitely goes into the trebuchet.

Saturday afternoon we took the boys to see the new Pixar movie, "Up," as the kids had begged to see it since the film's promotion first began. We went to the Wehrenberg Ronnie's 20 Cine, the same theater I have gone to since I was a teenager. My parents used to drop off me and my gangling friends in our tight-rolled pants at the front of the theater (when it was only eight rooms instead of 20, gawd I'm old). I've never had a problem with Wehrenberg Ronnies, until Saturday.

We bought our tickets in advance and arrived 45 minutes early and because we knew that it would be a full house as it was the film's opening weekend. We stood in the first part of the line and the boys were very well behaved, mostly because they knew that they could eat all manner of sweet in the darkness of the theater and neither Chris or I would stop them.

When we walked in the first thing I noticed was that the first several very long rows were roped off with a sigh which read "RESERVED BIRTHDAY PARTY." The rows were the best seats in the house, front and center. It wouldn't have been a huge issue except that after we scaled the steps, we found it impossible to find four seats together. People were filing in, saving seats, and the largest number of seats together that we saw were three all the way up at the top and to the left. That meant that either Chris or I had to sit alone and let the other manage both children. It wasn't just us: other families were also struggling to find seats. One man was audibly angry, he remarked that he didn't spend the amount of money he did on five tickets to discover after purchase that a good portion of the theater was reserved. We looked to one of the ushers who sort of shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the seats in the very first row. The seats that would require my four-year-old to practically break his neck just to see the blurry screen. We did not spend $50 on tickets for that. Liam started to get upset.

"There isn't any place to sit!" He said. "I can't sit there, mom. I won't be able to see the movie. Maybe they'll let me sit on their stairs?"

No one was helpful. I finally asked to see the manager. I could instantly tell that she had no interest in actually hearing our concerns; we explained the seating problem, how we did not pay such high prices to be separated, how we were unhappy that we were not told that so many rows were reserved, how Wehrenberg did not give us the courtesy of informing us that immediately we would not have access to the center middle rows in the theater.

I tried telling her that we could not find four seats together at which point she literally held up her hand and interrupted me and said that yes, there were enough seats in that showing. That's when I began to get upset because I did not appreciate the woman's implication that I was just lying through my teeth about the entire situation and that the problem was my inability to just see.

The Wehrenberg manager nor any Wehrenberg staff offered to go into the theater at any time to help any patron find seats. The Wehrenberg staff, at no time, offered to transfer our purchased tickets to another showing of the film. I finally got huffy with them after tiring of the way in which they spoke to us, the way in which the manager held her hand up to my face, and after she and another employee seemed to roll their eyes at us. I demanded a refund and I think today or tomorrow that $50 will be back in my account, finally.

We weren't the only family that asked for a refund either and we weren't the only family that Wehrenberg refused to assist.

My boys were upset and began crying as we left the theater. Thanks, WEHRENBERG!

As it was explained to me by the manager and Wehrenberg, the rows were reserved because someone paid a premium price to reserve those seats. That's fine. My problem isn't that someone reserved rows, my problem is Wehrenberg's failure to inform their customers that they did not have access to the best seats and may not be able to sit together.

I wrote the company and informed them of the entire ordeal; they basically wrote back and said "so what." Since there is a privacy disclaimer on the correspondence I can't post it fully here and will respect their wishes on it, however, I will post my email.

Hi Lxxxx,
Thank you for the speedy response.

I understand that the theater was not "oversold," however it was impossible for us and other families to find seats together and absolutely no effort was made to assist us or the other families.

I neither asked or expected free tickets; I did expect the theater to be up front about seat availability. Patrons were not told in advance that so many seats were reserved and that we would lose out on choosing seats or the opportunity to even sit with our children. Had we known this we would have simply purchased seats for a different showing or perhaps another theater. The burden of communicating this to patrons belongs to Wehrenberg. It's unfair to
not inform patrons of such an occurrence, to allow them to waste time and purchase tickets unaware that they do not have the same chance at getting a good seat as others - especially when they arrive nearly an hour early before the crowds. If another party paid a premium price, that's fine - but you have a responsibility to inform your customers when this happens so they can decide for themselves if they would rather see another showing. That's just good business.

Those front row seats were
exactly the only seats available for larger families and it's frankly ridiculous to expect small children (such as ours) to crank their necks up to stare at a screen that their eyes will have trouble adjusting to at such close range or to have them sit alone.

Thank you for explaining Wehrenberg's policy more fully. Because I'm not sure exactly what to expect when I walk into a Wehrenberg theater, I will become a regular patron somewhere else.

Dana Loesch

I think it's amusing that any company would decline to just perform better customer service. Or that the manager at any time thought that my request for such translated into free tickets. Don't worry, Wehrenberg, I'm not asking you to go above and beyond anything.

I think its downright offensive for Wehrenberg to say well hey, snort, there are seats in the front. Yes, the seats where you have to do a backbend to even see the screen. Explain to me how this is good for small children? (To say nothing of anyone with a disability.)
I also was offended by how Wehrenberg tried to make their lack of customer service my fault. It was our fault that our family and others couldn't find seats together, it was our fault if we were dissatisfied with how they did not tell patrons about the limited seat choices - yet still charged the SAME price for their tickets.

1. If you're going to allow reserved seating, be courteous and inform your customers BEFORE THEY BUY THEIR TICKETS so they can make the informed choice as to whether or not they want to see a different showing or go to a different theater. It seems insanely rude to charge them the same high price when there is limited choice to seating. It would be considerate to offer a discount on ticket prices to patrons who purchase tickets for showings with reserved seats.

2. When you are told by a slew of customers that they are having trouble finding seats, believe them. Don't argue with them and refuse to help. They're not asking for red carpet treatment, they just want to sit with their kids.

3. This is a novel idea, but stick with me: actually HELP customers find their seats! I know, right?

4. The burden of good customer service is on YOU, the business, Wehrenberg. Don't, in a roundabout way, tell your customers to go service themselves.

So yes, I will not be going back to any Wehrenberg because I like to know what I'm getting myself into when I drop $50 on movie tickets. The reason that I'm writing about it is not to be ignorant, but because I hope to save you from the afternoon that I had with two crying children and a rude theater manager who rolled her eyes at me and stuck her hand up to interrupt me when I tried to ask for help.

This did end on a happy note! I mentioned the situation on Twitter and there were some incredibly nice people who were very generous with museum passes, pool passes, discounts on hotel rooms with pools, theme park discounts; it was very kind. Kids being kids, mine were still upset about the film and I was told about the new Great Escape theater in Fenton. I didn't even know that Fenton had a theater. So we went to see "Up," the ticket prices were a bit cheaper, the staff was courteous, and the entire place smelled like a brand new car. The seats were leather and they rocked. Like, literally, they rocked back and forth. One of their staff, when I relayed our experience at their competitor's, replied "Yeah, they should tell people when they do that."

Lastly, no spoilers, "Up" was fantastic, sad, and hysterical. The first twenty minutes made Chris sob so hard that an older lady seated nearby whispered to her friend "That man is crying."

What do you think? Wouldn't you like to know in advance if seats are reserved, especially a large number of them? Is that too much to ask? What is your worst and/or best customer service story? I'd really like to know, I want to keep a catalog of places to definitely go and places to avoid. Advance thanks!


What a bummer! We have also had this problem at this theater chain before. Walked into a theater to see Madagascar and the best seats were "reserved." I don't like to go to Ronnie's because of the teenagers, the ones who go and the ones working.

Yes, they should have told you! It would be differnt if there were a large number of presales, but when the actual physical seats are reserved that's a different story.

I can't believe they wouldn't help you find seats. My husband and I go there frequently, and one more than one occasion they've come in and made an announcement that everyone must move to the left or move to the right to open all the single seats. I have to say though, that people like me may be the reason they didn't do that. I've raised hell because we get their early to pick a middle seat and then find ourselves shoved to one far side. Note that I'm not faulting you or saying they shouldn't have helped you. The issue is the large block of reserved seats, and they screwed up.

That is a total bummer they did that...there is a Great Escape in Ofallon, MO that we had a terrible experience at and we wrote the company to complain and they mailed us 4 free tickets, which we didnt ask for. It is too bad they didnt at least do that.

I wasn't even aware it was possible to reserve seats and/or rows in a movie theater. I'm fairly certain that isn't an option here, but if it were, yes, I'd definitely want to *at least* be told ahead of time.

This is why eateries and family fun centers have specific rooms and other designated areas strictly for the use of birthday parties.

Take a note Wehrenberg..

It's not much different from walking into a store to buy a jacket that there are only two of and one is in layaway and the other has a busted zipper. You aren't getting the same product, or same experience, but you are still praying the same price. BOGUS.

A family trip to the movies isn't exactly an inexpensive outting and that's just walking through the door. They treated you horribly - I don't disagree with your position one bit.

I am finally de-lurking after reading this post! You are correct that they should have told you or at least help you find a seat! I have had issues with Wehernberg theaters in the past... mainly having to do with poor seating or them not intervening when some teens lit up in the back of the theater... even after multiple complaints. I avoid them if I can, and seeing as many of their local theaters have closed... I'd guess we are not the only ones with horror stories.

Wow! I followed this on Twitter and I was shocked. I live in S. Texas and the theatres here will go in to the individual theatre and ask folks to move to the center (and or side) so folks can sit together--they find you a seat. At the very least they ought to have happily offered your family a transfer to another movie showing. I am surprised at your response from Corporate. Most times corporate sides with the customer and bend over backward to apologise.

I agree, the only way to teach them that this is not appropriate customer service and that they survive on actual to never go again and spread your story. I love the internet.

I'm glad things finally turned out okay for you guys. Since the Great Escape theater opened up in Fenton last fall, it's the only one my family and I will go to. I especially love the (as you mentioned) big, fat, leather, rocker seats.:) I've got no reason to go back to Ronnie's again.

Wow, thanks for the heads up. If I ever go to a Wehrenberg on opening weekend, I'll know to ask. Not that they'd be courteous enough to inform the box office so they could answer.

My husband recently discovered the Great Escapes theater in Fenton, I went there for my first movie on Sunday. It really is an incredible experience, even if you aren't in one of their larger theaters. Clean, friendly, reasonably priced too! It's our new favorite theater, even though it's not the closest.

Time and time again, it seems as if eight of my Top Ten Worst (non governmental) Customer Service Experiences happened at movie theaters. My favorite moron is the Seat Rearranger, the guy who shows up 2 minutes before the movie begins and starts ordering people to move over so he can fit his brood into one long string of seats.

Ten years ago... without exaggeration, I was AVERAGING two movie theater visits per week. Averaging. Every Friday, Saturday, and most Sundays. I saw absolutely everything that came out.

But there were just too many experiences like the one that happened to you. It's the "cumulative weight of feathers." A ton of feathers dropped on your head will kill you sure as a ton of bricks.

So I broke down and bought the big screen TV, progressive scan DVD player, and surround sound. I remember how absolutely sick I was with buyer's remorse on the way home from Best Buy. I couldn't believe I just paid the value of a good used car for a television.

It was a painful six months while I waited for the first "lag time" of movie releases to hit DVD.

After that, I never looked back.

The only time we darken the door of a theater any more is to see art house releases during Oscar season. And damned if instead of urban yokels shouting at the screen there aren't Old Ladue Ladies sitting in Plaza Frontenac Theater, talking like they were sitting in their living room.

It's amazing. Simply amazing.

Glad the kids were able to see the movie after all that mess. Kudos on being relentless and demaning accountability.

My worst story is that my family and another family went to old Bush for a Cubs/Cards game and were seated just below the overhang of the upper deck when some teenagers dropped -- I'm not kidding -- their one-hitter and it fell right between my legs from the upper deck. Well we just laughed and left it there - about 10 minutes later there were 5 teenagers asking us to give it back; they were threatening and less than polite and I refused. Seriously -- it was like "we demand that you give us our drug paraphernalia back!" ...5 minutes later they were dumping beer on our heads from the upper deck. Apparently they were friends with the local usher and he did NOTHING as 2 other teens hovered behind us. The usher did NOTHING. Just shrugged his shoulders(!). Once we realized the kids were not getting kicked out we left (and missed a bottom of the 9th game winning HR by Shawon Dunston). At least two other families also left as they were just as upset.

I was soooo pi$$#! off that I wrote several emails demanding nothing more than the name of the usher who did nothing on the grounds that I needed to know that they were aware of exactly WHO the usher was that allowed all of that to occur. The Cards front office was very responsive - sent replacement tickets to another Cubs game (we weren't after tickets - just accountability); they wouldn't tell us the name of the usher - only that he had been reprimanded. They even followed up with us personally when we attended the make up game to make sure everything was fine. I just had to take their word that they knew who the user was.

Wherenberg could take a lesson from the Cardinals -- no one is perfect but sincerity after-the-fact can go a long way.

There is one exception to theater suckage, now that I think about it.

The Moolah. If they are playing your movie (they only have one at a time), you owe it to yourself to see it there.

It's no more expensive and your family can get their own big comfy couch.

Patrons are generally upscale and well behaved.

yes, that is unacceptable. in a situation, such as a movie theater, where open seating in expected (as opposde to somthing like Broadway where your ticket ir for a specific seat), it is the management's duty to inform patrons that there may be limited seating. And regardless of teh reserved seatind fiasoc, refusing to help a customer or acting like it's all your problem you can't find seats together is inexcusable. As is acting like its a virtue they didn't sell more tickets than they had seats. I can only hope that the curren state of te economy will cause companies to rethink their lack of customer service - it is a problem that is too widespread these days.

Just wanted to chime in to say that I think poor customer service is a plague in this country. Good for you for taking the time to voice your concerns. If more people did this, companies would not be able to get away with treating their customer so poorly. Unfortunately, too many people either don't have the time or don't take the time to complain, which has allowed companies to pass more and more responsibility and headaches onto the customer.
Also, while I'm on my customer service soapbox, I would also like to add that it is always nice to talk to a manager or send a nice email/note to a company when you recieve exceptionally good customer service.

I'm glad that you were able to still go see the movie. I've personally never had a problem with a Wehrenberg Theater myself, (Except I always grit my teeth every time that horrible Wehrenbeg song plays right before the movie). But I probably won't go inside another one after hearing about your incident. I'm sorry they were so ridiculously rude to you. I'm sure I would have smacked that lady that put her hand in your face (JOKING!). Probably the worst theater I've ever been in is the one in my hometown of DeSoto "The Melba". The previous owners of that place just so happened to be my neighbors. The lady that owned it was a total vamp who made the sky crackle with an evil, bitter aura of disdain and discord. I feel sorry for the poor sap that ended up with her. The theater itself would make the 9th circle of Hell (The Icy Lake, Cocytus) look warm and inviting. My shoes sometimes would be cemented to the floor due to all the gum on it. The bathrooms had evil Penelopes rubbing their million arms together just itching to bite you as you went to do your business. If you looked in the bathroom mirror and said "Bloody Mary" thirteen times...well you get the picture. Anyways, it was awesome seeing you, Chris, and your kids at the Great Escape and I'm glad ya'll enjoyed the movie! Peace, Comrade!

LOL at Dwight Wannabe. I gotta second a lot of what he wrote.

With my guy being an absolute film nut, we could easily see a movie a week in the theater. And for the first several years of our relationship, we did. We even had a few stay-cations where we'd see 6 or more movies in a weekend leading up to the Oscars.

Now? We haven't been to a movie theater in two years. Neither of us is a patient person, but we'd rather test those skills than deal with the movie theater experience any more.

When the Ladue Ladies at Frontenac talked all the way through Little Children, and when I had a woman chase up the aisle after me and grab my arm-- all because she was TALKING during the film and I gave her the old evil eye-- we decided we were done.

NetFlix is our new best friend.

We, too, watched UP this weekend. It was a beautiful movie. If you didn't tear up at the beginning or the end then you don't have a heart.

We watched at St. Clair Cine 10 in Fairview Heights. It's an old theater so it's never oversold. We purposely view movies here because it's never overcrowded and, predominantly, people seem to be there to SEE the movie, not talk, meet and disrupt others.

Rock on, St. Clair Cine 10.

This is why God made Netflix....

I moved to St. Louis about 14 ago from Los Angeles, the movie capital of the world. The movie theaters in L.A are awesome! I used to go to the big chains like AMC or small movie houses and always had a great experience. When I moved to StL, my husband and I went to the Wehrenberg theater in Des Peres. Silly me I thought all movie theaters would be the same. What a nightmare this theater was!!! No customer service to speak of, stale popcorn, overall horrible!!! I havent' gone back to a Wehrenberg theater since.

What a horrible thing for your poor boys to deal with. I remember learning this little gem in college...when a customer has a good experience with customer service they tell maybe one person, but when they have a bad or negative experience they tell on average 9 people! With turn around like that I don't understand why bad service still happens.

Yes that was rude. The onus is definitely on the cinema to inform and help their customers. You'd think they'd be absolutely thrilled to have so many customers in this day and age - the sliding economy, downloading movies off the net and the fact that you can make your own cinema experience at home with a ridiculously large TV or a projector... idiots.

I personally don't go to the opening night of a movie. I wait until it's been on for a little while, then either watch it in an empty theatre (seriously, just us in a cinema in Sydney!) or when my university shows two movies in the hall for $5 - and everybody claps at the end for some reason.

"That man is crying!"

So funny.

We have a Great Escapes in O'Fallon, MO and we LOVE it. It is a hidden gem among thorns in the way of movie theatres. Especially considering we have the Wherenberg Galaxy complex and another Wherenberg in Lake St. Louis that people can attend. For our money it is Great Escapes - the staff is great, the place looks great, and it never seems to be overly crowded. We've attended several opening day features there and have never had a situation like you described. I hope the one in Fenton is as nice as the one in O'Fallon. I'm sorry they made your kids cry. Wherenberg, especially the Ronnie's location, lost our business a long time ago.

When I was 16 (about 10 years ago) I worked for Ronnies 20 for the summer. They were horrible. Last time I checked, it's the same general manager and she's not a very nice person. They treated their staff pretty much the same way they treated you, which probably accounts for (although doesn't excuse) the lack of help from the ushers. Best theaters I've been to recently around here are the Moolah and the big theater over in Edwardsville (brand new and CLEAN!)

ugh, Ronnie's sucks. I get anxious just walking into that place, it's always crazy.

I'm not a huge Wehrenberg fan myself, as they serve Pepsi, and going to the movies means I get to treat myself with soda and popcorn, so if we end up there, no Diet Coke for me: boo! It is probably completely lame that I patronize movie theaters based on their beverage agreements, but there you are ...

Terrible, TERRIBLE customer service. I cannot believe they weren't more accommodating AND that they didn't have a plan in place to communicate to their customers about the situation.

But....but...Fenton is outside the "ring of safety!!!"

(Gregg ducks as the outlanders start throwing stuff at him)

Wow, that's disgusting.

I am a regular patron of AMC and I have never had any problems. I will regularly march my butt up to customer service desk and ask for a refund if there is a shortage of good seats. I am not going to pay 20 bucks to see a movie and get nauseous in the front row or not be able to sit next to my husband. They always give me a refund, they don't even ask why. Brilliant.

I'm surprised that you would honor the privacy statement in their email. That statement has absolutely no force. One cannot send an email and bind the recipient to keep it private. Email privacy statements are designed to intimidate but they are in no way binding on any recipient and the sender has absolutely no recourse should you decide to share the email with others.

Considering how they've treated you and others I would expect you'd want to share what they had to say. You are fully within your rights to do so.

We are out in MoFallon, but always prefer the Great Escape over the other. They were both built at the same time but the Great Escape is a better experience.. I'd pay more for it.

I hate when that stuff happens. I wish customer service was better at a lot of places. The other day I went into a store in the mall to look for work pants, and I asked where they were in the store...(Didn't see any...) and the lady looked right at me..and said "You don't shop here alot do you?" Not in a very nice tone..and really judgemental.
Okay...sorry i'm not wearing what your store has in it..just show me the work pants.. haha.

I haven't had too bad of a time at thing that does stick out though that annoyed me.. We went to go see Ratatouille..and since they serve alcohol @ Ronnies..Oh course there were these 5-6 people in front of us DRUNK and not having a filter at all. Really nice..I felt really horrible for the parents with kids in there.

Wow. Had that lady stuck her hand up in my husband's face I would have been posting bail. (I realize it was yours but my husband is the 'handler' in our relationship LOL)

Yes, they should have informed patrons that the area was roped off. Actually, I disagree with someone paying for reserved seats during a premiere weekend. There should be some rules on that, if you ask me.

I would never go back. What makes the whole thing just unbelievable was the managers lack of customer service and respect and from what you say it comes from even higher up. Obviously they aren't worried about customers so I'd take my business elsewhere. End of story!

We love the Great Escape in O'Fallon and avoid the competition because seriously, I have two small children. I'm not about to make my life more complicated when we're trying to have a fun family night out.

yes the staff was rude but working at movie theatre i know how insane the movie theatre goers can get. there is usually nothing a staff member can do in that situation. it was wrong of her to put her hand in your face and to not warn you about the birthday party. she should have just offered you a refund as soon as you had a problem. we would have just given you a refund and since you seemed overly peeved probably would have given you free passes to see the movie another time. however it seemed like you approached the situation in a very DO SOMETHING NOW way...obviously there is nothing that can be done if the only seats are in the front. she probably was busy and couldnt see a resolution to the problem because perhaps she was just bad her job...but in my experience 90% of people are. also around here movies are ALWAYS sold out its a pain in the ass but what can you do??

I feel so powerless when faced with bad customer service like that. Worse yet, I know deep down that it won't matter to this clerk or manager that I won't go there again. However, word of bad customer service is like a weed, it grows and spreads. Last week I was ordering pizza from Elicia's on Hampton and Southwest. The manager wouldn't accept a coupon that was posted on their website because it would be too much trouble to enter it into the computer. There was a $1 difference between the coupon I had, that was not expired, and the one he had programed in his computer. He said, "well it's just a dollar." And I said, "exactly, it's just a dollar. honor the coupon!" Now I just tell anyone who might be interested - "Don't go to Elicia's on Southwest and Hampton."

Try Keller theater off Lemay.
I hate going to ronnie's because of the teenagers, and yes saying that makes me feel REALLY old.

While I understand why your experience was frustrating, am I the only one here who thinks that every time you pay for a movie ticket, especially on opening weekend, you risk not being able to sit together? I mean, I'm sure you were MORE frustrated since you DID arrive early; in plenty of time which SHOULD have helped you all get decent seats, but let's say that those seats weren't reserved, but were filled, by people who arrived even earlier than you? It's just the chance you take when you walk into a theater, no?

In other words, when you purchase 4 movie tickets, the theater guarantees there will be at least 4 seats available to you; they stop selling if no more seats are available. But they never guarantee that the seats will be together, or in your desired location. That would be impossible as they are not sitting in one of their 20 theaters monitoring the seating situation; they are just selling the # of tickets they have available.

I'm not saying you shouldn't have been frustrated, but I really don't see how this is any different from walking into a theater without reserved seats, but filled seats. Or waiting 25 minutes for a table at a restaurant at the height of the Saturday night dinner rush; you might be near the front door; you might end up in the back; you might end up near the kitchen....

Farrell - it's different because you pay for the same price of ticket for an instantly diminished chance of getting a good seat. You at least have a chance without a reserved section.

We had a miserable experience at the O'Fallon IL theater (whatever chain it is) the night Sex & the City opened. I bought our 9 tickets online the day they were available for sale. We got to the theater an hour and change early. I went to the kiosk to print off our tickets, and they all had some dumb error message on the tickets. I checked at the ticket window, and the girl said our tickets were fine, we could get in line.

So Auntie and I got in line very near the front, while the rest of our party was outside smoking. I was giving them their tickets as they came in, and they got into the back of the line. Auntie and I were going to save our seats (4 in one row and 5 in another). When they started seating for our showing, they said they were showing it simultaneously in two theaters, so we could go either left of right. We went left, and the ticket-taker guy told us it was not showing on his side. WTF?! So by the time we finally got over to the correct theater on the right, we could not get our seats together. I do realize that nine people is alot, but I bought our tickets way in advance and showed up very early. Had we been sent in the correct direction from the get-go, it would have been a non-issue. But as it was, we were sitting in the two-seat rows against the wall. Nine does not divide evenly by two.

I was really unhappy because we'd been planning this for a month. While we still got to see the movie and it worked out reasonably well in the end, don't let me stand in line for an hour just to not let me get to pick out my seats.

I was going to send them a letter, but never got around to it. But the time I could think about it without exploding with expletives, it was so far past the incident that it wasn't worth it to me anymore.

I completely understand your frustration. When you spend that kind of money and plan properly, it sucks to be thwarted by the incompetents.

How frustrating! They totally should have warned you when you bought your tickets about the several rows of seats being blocked off and when you went to an usher, they should have been cooperating. It's not like you showed up 5 minutes before show time! Maybe if they let smaller groups of people in at a time rather than the whole line, they could avoid that problem.

I do have to say that a few years back (managers and ushers have probably changed since then!), I went to Ronnies on a Thursday night for a 10pm showing of some random movie. Walking towards our theater, there was a boy, probably 6 or 7, sitting in the hallway with his kids tray of snacks. He stopped us and asked what movie we were going to see and he said, "Oh, I'm going to see Wallace and Gromitt, but there's no one in there and it's scary." We found out from the boy that his Dad and sister were in "Exorcism of Emily Rose" and that his Dad had gotten him a ticket for "Wallace and Gromitt" ALONE. We talked with the ushers and they confirmed that no other tickets had been bought for that show and my boyfriend and I decided to watch Wallace and Gromitt with the little boy. He was SO happy and grateful and all he wanted to do was share his snacks with me. I found Ronnies to be very helpful in that situation, though it's very different from yours and the ushers/managers have probably changed! If I could've gotten my hands on that poor little boy's father, though...

Dana, great piece! Sorry to hear that happened to your family. I'm going to have to try out the Great Escape now per your recommendation. I've stopped going to Ronnie's awhile ago.
One of my last experiences there pretty sums up their version of customer service. My wife and I went to go see a movie, purchased our tickets and then went to get popcorn and sodas. (I'm a huge popcorn freak!) We walked up to the teenager behind the counter and he said nothing. No 'hi, can I help you?", or "is there something I can get for you?" Nothing, just silence. So I said "hi, how are you tonight?". He just stood there like dude why are you bothering me. So I gave up and just said I'd take the jumbo popcorn and a soda. I told my wife I want to start a Customer Service consulting business to teach businesses that hire teenagers how to train them in good customer service!

Glad you found the theatre out in Fenton, Dana. To echo what's been said, you had every right to complain and ask for a refund; I've found Ronnies to be hell around the weekends. (Go to the Keller theatre too, off Lemay. Cheap show = awesome)

As to Beth, I'm glad you report good customer service, because speaking as someone who works in retail, has worked as a waiter and even at the Magic House in high school, it's definitely a two-way street.
I've seen people go to sane to crazy in no time flat because of the smallest of problems, and myself and my coworkers the epicenter of their four-letter word based hatreds. I've been threatened with lawsuits and physical violence in the parking lot. Yes, customer service can be bad these days, but so can customers.

That was a great letter to the theatre company! When our kids were younger, my girlfriend and I took my 3 kids and her 3 to a matinee of a Disney movie. Someone forgot to change the reel and our kids were subjected to the first 3 mins. of "Bridget Jones' Diary 2" before they got a clue and stopped it. The "F" word was a-flying. I wrote a similar letter to that theatre company and have not patronized them since. What other clout do we have than our entertainment dollars? We'll remember that company the next time we visit St. Lou.

Went to a nearby Carmike Theatre here in Nashville to watch Revenge of the Sith a few years ago. Some screw-up happened, and the film finally started about 15 min. into it. Mgr. offered refund for it (good on him), but I ask: WHY didn't they just start from the beginning after the screw-up?! Anywho, finally saw it w/ my buddy in STL a few weeks later. Can't say off the top of my head who owned the theater (Mid-Rivers Mall, I think? Who owns that?), but Wehrenberg is definitely on my sh*t list now, right after Carmike. HULK SMASH PUNY CARMIKE AND WEHRENBERG!

Wow! Sorry to hear this story! I think Wehrenberg has gotten too big & they rally do not care about customer service! That will come back to bite them...there are enough other theaters around that are just as good IF not better than Wehrenburg. They should know that bad business will get around a lot faster than good deeds. They should put customers first & remember that a customer is ALWAYS right (whether they like it or not!) Bite your tongue & help the customer(s) out! I think a sign should have been posted at the ticket window stating the movie & time is limited to number of seats together due to a large party reservation that was made in advance & then let the customers decide if to see that movie at that time. There would have been a lot less headache for everyone.
Better luck at the new theatre!

What a bunch of dick heads! That is the email you should have sent.

Could this type of extremely helpful customer service have contributed to Wehrenberg's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last year? Hmmmmmm?

We had this exact same thing happen!!! Half of the theater was occupied, and roped off, with birthday parties. This meant there was one or two adults to every dozen kids or so and they all had the best seats! My dear husband was pissed! Management was very flippant about the entire thing being a terrible inconvienience.

Im Tired of hearing people cry over this silly stuff why didnt you just ask one of the other guests to move around. Obvisouly the theather was busy maybe thats why the manager was distracted, did you bother to think that you might not be the only people in the theather she was trying to help (idiot). Take care of your own problems get the manager when you have exhausted all possiable solutions. I doubt that walking around the theater a few times was enough. Why should somone else help you when you wont help yourself. People of america take a stand for yourself grow up and be adults

Sooo.. what SHOULD have the ushers and managers done? You got your money back.. you big goof. They helped you in the best way they possibly could. "Uhh ohh. I can't find seats, and these ones are reserved. Best thing to do now is start bitching and complaining." You have no idea how many idiots those employees have to deal with on a daily basis. Think about.. they deal with people 5-9 hours straight. They deserve credit, and can't make everyone happy.

"Could this type of extremely helpful customer service have contributed to Wehrenberg's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last year? Hmmmmmm?" - Right, you are an idiot. Wehrenberg almost filed bankruptcy because of the money spent on an IMAX projector, 3D projectors, DBox seating, and Digital Projectors to every theater. They did this to make assholes like YOU happy.

Thank you for your posting. It was very detailed and polite. After reading your post I decided that I won't go there anymore. It is wrong the way the handle the situation. I understand mistakes happen but I never excuse when they are badly handled. I am sorry that happened to you and your family.

Pardon the late reply to all this; your blog came up when doing a search for something else entirely, but this caught my eye...

As an employee of Wehrenberg, I'm disgusted with the way the staff/management handled this, as well as the customer services' brush-off. Rest assured, that note you sent them was most likely emailed to the theater, which all staff got to see, and they determined exactly which staff members were involved.Their official policy when a theater is heavily booked is to send someone in to ask guests to move, as to make room for others and families. Also, tickets automatically cannot be sold once most seats have been purchased (I forget the exact cutoff point, but it's when there's around 7% of seats remaining). This is for fire safety reasons, as well as customer comfort. The manager in question acted shamefully, in my opinion. If it's the person I suspect, then she probably got an unusually small reprimanding, because her husband is the company's vice president. Then again, I could be entirely wrong in my assumption and she was scolded harshly by the home office. Unfortunately, all theaters within our chain hold the policy to rope off prime areas for birthday parties. If you paid extra for your kid to have a party, how would you feel if the the theater just set aside seats in the worst section of the house, even though you were required to pay in advance months in advance?

Like a few others have mentioned, it is difficult to be polite at times, because a manager's average shift consists of 9 hours filled with people complaining over the silliest reasons, wrangling kids who desperately need their parents' supervision, and teaching too many teenagers how an employee is expected to act at the workplace. You'd be shocked by how many people come in thinking they know everything about projection because they own a widescreen tv and blu-ray player (and NO, digital cinema's not made of a dvd, folks! haha...)

I wish I didn't work for this racist, sexist company (you wouldn't believe how often the owner sends out offensive forwarded emails to everyone in the chain), but the fact of the matter is that they run the greatest equipment and as far as theaters go, this is one of the best chains to work at. I'm embarrassed at how many kids fresh out of college have to come here for work as a result of the crummy job market, and that we can only offer them minimum wage while those at corporate get fantastic pay, benefits, and holidays off. These kids (and young parents) are stuck being required to work every single holiday at standard (minimal) pay-- who wants to spend their Christmas cleaning up puke from someone else's kid who ate too much popcorn?

Still, that does not make the way you were treated ok. Please give Wehrenberg another shot, just try a location other than the chain's "crown jewel." We can do better-- I promise.

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