The Service in Customer Service

Friday, I decided to take my three sweet children to the fair. I am not exaggerating; they were actually sweet on Friday. I planned ahead and bought the tickets online for a cheaper price than at the gate, and was gloating about my resourcefulness. I tend to gloat anytime I save money, and repeatedly tell myself how thrifty I am.

We live very close to the fairgrounds and walked to the fair (saved $8 -$15 in parking fees—see I’m gloating again). We went through the little gate and everything was going smoothly, the weather was nice and the kids were still sweet. One of the tickets I bought online was for a book of ride coupons. I presented this to the girl at the gate and she said, “Oh, I can’t take this you have to go somewhere else.”

To which I replied “Where?” (Good question, huh?)

“I don’t know this is my first day” –it was the first day of the fair.

I moseyed onto the ticket booth, so that he could say “Oh, you need to give this to them” and pointed to nothing, really.

I then proceeded to walk through the entire fair to the far  entrance to the fair to the information booth. Being the “information booth” I assumed they would have information. “Hi, can I help you?” the information chick asked.

“Well, I bought this ticket online and don’t know how to get my ride coupon book.”

“Oh, let me call someone”, she said. She got on her walkie-talkie, cb or what have you (you’d think with technological advancement she would have something called an “icom” or “berry talker” or they’d be text messaging.)  Anyway, the information guru on the other side of the device told her that I needed to go to the ticket booth.

“But, I already went to a ticket booth and they couldn’t help me,” I said somewhat sweetly.

“Oh, well, you have to go to it again. These will be open at 11 o’clock.”

“11 o’clock?”

“Yes, that’s when they opened last year.”

“Okay, thanks.”

I (still smiling) looked at my watch (10:30) and then wandered over to the nature section so my kids could pet millipedes and bearded dragons. They were very excited and I was happy they were so excited. We stayed in the nature section until my daughter told me that she had to go to the bathroom–yesterday.

So we ran to the nearest restroom tripping over turtles, snakes and the elderly as we frantically searched for the closest latrine. After what seemed like hours, but what was only 1 minute and 23 seconds, we found a place for my daughter, and all of it made it into the toilet. I was relieved. The kids begged me to go back to the nature area. And, being the nice mom that I am, and because it’s free, we went back to petting the turtles and snakes.

At around 11:00 am, the kids started asking about the rides again. We find the closest ticket booth and I hand my internet receipt. She greets us with a shaking of the head and pointing of the finger to a sign taped to the window which basically said:

All internet ticket purchases must be picked up at the ticket window between Looney Tunes and Monster Trucks

“Oh”, I said, “where is that?”

“I don’t know where it is,” said the very helpful ticket booth lady.

“Okay, thanks.”

We of course have no idea where the monster trucks and Looney whatever are, and don’t know what direction we should even go. We start walking, again.

On our journey we meet a lady (or was it the tin man?)that seemed official, and I said as politely as I could possibly muster at this time, “I have been looking for someone to help me with this internet purchase for the last hour, could you please help me?”

“Oh, sure, I’m so sorry (finally, a sorry) let me see that,” she says and then gets on her cb radio thingy.

We waited for about 10 minutes while she called up everyone in a 30 mile radius for an answer.

“Oh, I know where it is”,  she said after speaking to what must have been the 911 operator,  “just go back where you were and you will see a trailer, ticket thingy and the monster trucks right next to it.”

So we go back toward where her finger was pointing, convinced this time, we would get the tickets, only to find ourselves at the same information booth we visited an hour previously!

I just looked at information chick and said “No, we still haven’t gotten our tickets.” (I would like to say I was still sweet, but I was more terse than polite.)

“You still don’t have them?” she said which we all know to mean – “you’re still an idiot?”  

At this time the lady who had pointed to this general direction pops out of her little golf cart to say “You still haven’t found it?” which we all know means – “you’re the stupidest person I ever met.”

She finally shows me where the hidden little trailer was next to the monster truck ride (okay, these were not monster trucks they were baby trucks).

I went up the stairs and presented my internet coupon, and the lady at the booth hands me the coveted ticket coupons .Not being content to leave it at that, I mention that I had a very hard time finding the trailer.

“We’re here in the same spot every year”, she says in a monotone voice.

“Well, I’ve never been here before and wouldn’t know that, and there are no signs anywhere.”

“Oh, yeah, there aren’t any signs, but everyone knows where we are.”

“No, I have talked to 4 people that work at the fair and they didn’t know. No one knows where you are.”

“Okay, I will make sure the people at the front know where we are.”

Would it have been so hard to say “I’m sorry”, or, “Please take more ride tickets for wasting an hour of your day chasing down everyone at the fair to ask them something they all should know the answer to” or even “You shouldn’t have had to go through all of this, the fair should be fun!”

I was to blame because I was supposed to know where they were “last year” when I was living half way across the world!  


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. chocolatechic
    Jun 24, 2007 @ 15:03:27

    The question remains………did your kiddos stay sweet? did they get any cotton candy? or funnel cakes?

    Seriously, I have become more and more “vocal” about customer service.

  2. Diesel
    Jun 24, 2007 @ 21:57:41

    That’s ridiculous. On the other hand, at least you’re not the person who is stuck in the same spot every year.

  3. Theresa
    Jun 25, 2007 @ 01:34:44

    Wonderful organization! Sounds even worse than Southern Spain. We went to an aquarium in Málaga and my husband complained because lots of the tanks didn’t really say what fish were in them, and they gave us free tickets, so at least we got something out of it. Did you fill out a complaint form? Well, think on the bright side, I’m sure your kids learned a lot about centipedes and other such creepy crawlies. I can just close my eyes and picture the whole situation, right down to the bathroom emergency.

  4. Diane
    Jun 25, 2007 @ 04:32:48

    Oh my word – I’m frustrated just reading that! I can’t believe you kept your cool that long.

    Don’t they realize how far just one “I’m sorry” would go?

  5. rjlight
    Jun 25, 2007 @ 07:50:28

    chocolatechic –yes, my kids basically stayed sweet although they were annoyed.

    Diesel–yeah, that’s probably why she was so full of cheer!

    Theresa — I must admit I thought I was in Spain! Just goes to show you no one wants to be inconvenienced to do their job.

    Diane — You know if I were the fair people I would have apologized profusely and tried to give the customer something for the confusion. Of course I know what customer service actually is…

  6. Jenna
    Jun 25, 2007 @ 11:21:36

    What a royal pain the butt! You did an excellent job keeping your composure about you. That kind of mess can easily ruin the mood of an otherwise fun day.

  7. rjlight
    Jun 25, 2007 @ 12:13:25

    Jenna — yeah, I was determined that it wouldn’t ruin our fun day.

  8. tobeme
    Jun 25, 2007 @ 15:55:30

    That was not a very fair day at the fair. It is a shame how people who should help you don’t. The key to great customer service is to take ownership of the issue at hand and not to sluff you off to someone or somewhere else.

  9. Luisa
    Jun 26, 2007 @ 15:56:15

    It makes me crazy when people won’t take responsibility and apologize. Grrrrrrrrr.

    You took a potentially murderous situation and turned it into a fine piece of witty writing–so you win.

  10. rjlight
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 05:37:20

    tobeme — yes, it is so frustrating when people aren’t big enough to say “hey, you shouldn’t have had to put up with us — I’m so sorry!”

    Luisa – thankfully I wasn’t cleaning up any murdered bodies. Thank you so much! I win! I win!

  11. Kara
    Jul 02, 2007 @ 05:01:00

    Oh! That is maddening! You are so right. No one will ever just say “Sorry.” It seems to be the hardest word…

  12. Randy
    Jul 07, 2007 @ 04:42:11

    You are not in the south anymore where everyone is sweet! The good ‘ol country folk!

  13. rjlight
    Jul 07, 2007 @ 07:37:27

    Kara — Yes, sorry seems to be the hardest word…

    Randy — Oh, you’re so southern–I know you’ve missed your southern iced tea having to tough it out in Cleveland.

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