Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Monday, July 24, 2006

Commercial: Of three brands, two tickets and one exasperated punter

The mission: to book two tickets to see ‘Frost/Nixon’ at the Donmar Warehouse, in the next few months. And to try and do it in 15 minutes, before ‘The Daily Show’ on More 4 starts.

The early stages: find the Donmar Warehouse site OK, and manage to check out ticket prices – think I’ll splash out on the stalls.

So, to try and book online: I can’t book from the page about the play, so I need to find the tickets link in the navigation below. On the far side of the screen is a link for the Ambassador Theatre Group website. Well, there’s nowhere else to go, so I guess it’s here…

A new screen, which doesn’t look like the ones I’ve been in before. But I can see the name of the play, so that’s OK. Go in, and select the date I want. It’s saying there are limited tickets. Well, I’ll still have a look. I have to click an additional link to do so; why can’t I do so automatically. Oh well, let’s see.

Well, there are two types of tickets: I want two… but now I’m told that it’s sold out for this night. Why didn’t it tell me this earlier?

Repeat times three, and finally I find a date where I can get some tickets. OK, I’ll seize those, and enter my Maestro card details…

Arrrgh! The screen now tells me: “There’s been an error with your payment (card has not been authorized). Please call our helpdesk on 020 xxx yyy. Your booking reference is….”

Hmmm, so what next? Can’t dial a number that has x’s and y’s in it. OK, I’ll give the box office a phone, they should know what’s going on. They do: they can see me on the system, the tickets are reserved are in my name. “There’s a problem sir: we can’t process your payment. Ticketmaster won’t let us into the system. Why don’t you call them? Here’s their number and a booking reference.”

Riiiiight. Where did Ticketmaster come into it? Never mind, let me pick up the phone… OK, that’s a really complex IVR system. And no, they don’t have a button for this particular case. So I’ll wait; and wait; OK, here we go…. “Well, we don’t know why they’ve put you through to us, but let’s see if you’re on our system…. No you’re not. Oh, you booked in the last 20 minutes? Well, why don’t you try calling back tomorrow, and we’ll see if the payment’s been processed then.”

Next day: OK, give Ticketmaster another call. Get confused by their phone system again. Get through to someone quite quickly. I explain the problem again. A long pause. “Well, let’s see, but I don’t know why they put you to us…. OK, we’ve searched on your card, and your name, and the date of the play, and we still can’t see you. And as we haven’t taken your money, and as no money’s gone out of your account there’s nothing that we can do. Why don’t you try the Donmar again?”

I do that. This time I’m straight though to box office, and sharp-toned lady who doesn’t want a problem caller like me on a Friday afternoon. “I can see you on the system, but I won’t be able to take your payment without cancelling your reservation and then rebooking you. Hold on….. right there we go, it’s done.”

So: two tickets finally got, after three attempts, engaging with three different brands, and missing ‘The Daily Show’. Nixon wasn’t as elusive, I’ll wager.

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