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.
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.
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!