OK, that's not even true. In fact, Eddie tried to help. It was the ancient Orpheum Theatre in Boston that did this past April. Since leaving the theater angry that evening, I have had "Write Letter to Orpheum" on my to-do list. Of course, it has been pushed to the end of the list repeatedly by such things as "Pick Up and Move Across State."
I am not one to threaten the writing of a letter without seeing it through, so this has been weighing on me a great deal. I want to mention, as well (particularly because I have a reputation in my office for continually contacting the Starbucks Coprorate Office about the unfriendly employees downstairs — which I've only done once!), that I often take time to send complimentary letters. To give an online nod to these businesses, I have sent such letters to Boloco (an awesome, growing, green, local burrito place), Tully's Coffee (whose cheerful employees made my day one rainy Saturday in Seattle), the Pine Street Inn (whose work cleaning the area around the Holocaust Memorial I am very grateful for), and McDonald's (where I received unexpectedly friendly customer service). McDonald's replied via email to my recent comment:
Thank you for taking the time to share your complimentary comments with McDonald's. It's a rare person who takes the time to compliment. Thank you for being that person!
Every McDonald's restaurant employee is trained to provide our customers with the best-possible restaurant experience. This includes providing fast, accurate and friendly service, and serving outstanding food quality in a clean and pleasant restaurant environment.
Please be assured that your nice comments will be shared with the franchise owner and restaurant team of the McDonald's you mentioned. I know they'll appreciate the time you took to share your comments with us.
Again, Erin, we know you have many choices when making your dining-out decisions, and we truly appreciate your choosing McDonald's. We look forward to serving you again soon under the Golden Arches.
McDonald's Customer Response Center
So, you see, I try to keep these sort of things in balance.
It would be wrong if I didn't contact the Orpheum about my experience there. Below is the letter that I am dropping in the mail today:
1 Hamilton Place
Boston, MA 02109
July 24, 2008
Dear Theater Manager,
I am writing to inform you of my experience at the Orpheum Theatre on April 30th of this year. I purchased two balcony tickets to Eddie Izzard’s performance on that date via Ticketmaster for a total of $118.55. My order number for this purchase was XXXXXX. I found your contact information on the Better Business Bureau website.
I have attended many theatrical events in Boston and throughout the world. These seats at the Orpheum were the worst seats I have ever been sold. Because of the pitch of the seating in your theater, the view from these seats (Balcony, Row T) is 100% obstructed. There is no warning of this obstruction when purchasing tickets, and the lack of view of the stage is certainly not reflected in the price. I would never have purchased tickets for obstructed seats, and I remain embarrassed to have unknowingly subjected my friend to the aggravation of trying to see the stage from these balcony seats.
I could not remotely enjoy Eddie Izzard’s performance, despite being a long-time fan. He is a largely physical comedian, and the inability to see his performance made only for frustration. Throughout the show, I heard complaints from many other people in the balcony section. In fact, at the beginning of the performance, we were also unable to hear the performance. It took a frustrated person from the balcony section to stand up and shout to the performer, himself, that we could not hear. Thankfully for us (embarrassing for you), Mr. Izzard responded kindly to her yell and adjustments were made.
There does not seem to be the same retribution for the sale of bad experiences as there is for the sale of bad consumer items. Obviously, I can’t “return” my experience, despite holding the receipt. My bad experience at the Orpheum was completely the fault of the theater, and I feel I am writing this letter on behalf of a number of people who felt very taken advantage of following this performance.
Because of the 100% obstruction of the stage from my seats, 100% frustration for the duration of the show, and my 100% disappointment following a much-anticipated performance, I am requesting a 100% refund of the price I paid for these two tickets: $118.55
Thank you for taking the time to address this situation.
I will be sure to follow up on my blog if the Orpheum follows up with me. Please post a comment if you had a similar experience at the Orpheum.