I’ve touched on this before (remember Justin at our local hospital) but yesterday was an example of how patience, a smile and unfailing customer service turned an irritated old goat (me) into a willing returning customer. And so our story begins.
The runners are on holiday, although the dancer and the rest of the world are still at school. Having had several days at home whilst I blitzed rooms, tried to catch up on paperwork and panicked about my inactivity in the garden I felt it was their turn to have some fun. We settled on the cinema but a trawl through the various local options suggested that our local cinema going audience is aged about 5 with a penchant for blowing up the world in pixar. Then we found a 10.30 viewing of Morning Glory, cost per ticket £3. The timing was not ideal but we reckoned we could live with that for the £3. I duly booked 1 adult and 2 children’s tickets. A quick flurry of facebook messages later and another friend was coming and I booked an additional teen ticket.
The following morning I dragged the runners out of bed, poured some breakfast in them and headed to the Washington Services to pick up the friend. We arrived in plenty of time at the cinema so I sent them off to wander around the shops whilst I picked up the tickets and enjoyed a quiet cup of tea with my book. My suspicions were aroused by the free tea and biscuits and the somewhat elderly clientele. I checked the website on my phone but could find no reference to a pensioners performance. As the average age started to edge above 70 I got a little more concerned and asked a member of staff who said yes it was a pensioners’ performance but it was no problem if we were there too.
Oh yes it was. The manager informed me that we could only attend if there was space. I pointed out that I had booked tickets online and had numbered seats so unless they were planning on double selling our seats we already had somewhere to sit. However, we didn’t really want to go now, the runners and their friend would have felt very out of place and I was cross.
I pointed out that there was nothing on the website that said it was for pensioners only, that I had booked seats for children, a teenager and a non-pensioner adult and the system had taken my money without question. Ah ha – it transpired I had missed the little teacup icon, if I had passed my mouse over that I would have seen a little balloon containing the following words:
“ODEON Senior Screen is a season of films for our mature guests. Come along and meet friends for a mid-morning screening of some of the best recent films and some classics from over the years. Enjoy free tea and coffee before the screening and then relax and enjoy the film. The selection of films reflects the best of modern and classic cinema with a focus on story telling rather than all out action.”
Taking a very deep breath and making it quite clear that my gripe was with the website/management not the lady standing in front of me I explained that we had got up early on the school holidays to travel some 30 miles and to be told that we couldn’t see a film that the website was happy to sell me tickets to because I hadn’t clicked on teacup did not leave me in the best of moods.
She refunded my tickets whilst I pondered what to do with the three girls outside (hiding in mortification at my complaint!). Suddenly she offered us complementary tickets to see another film; we had already looked through the entire offering for that day and the reason we had opted for the somewhat early 10.30 showing was because there was nothing else they wanted to see.
“What about Chalet Girl at 12.10?” She suggested, “you could have a little shop first it’s not a long wait.” Bemused that we had missed that on the film list we gratefully accepted. In fact I felt rather guilty as complementary tickets were not what I had been after.
We returned later and the same lady told me she had emailed HQ to say that the teacup icon was insufficient and they should also consider only allowing pensioner tickets to be sold to those viewings. She was charming and apologetic.
We were the ONLY people in the cinema. I checked the webite on my phone. There is no 12.10 viewing of Chalet Girl on a Tuesday. Unless something had changed between Monday and yesterday the very lovely lady at Silverlink had put on a special showing just for us.
That was customer service above and beyond the call of duty. But you know what? Next time we want to go to the cinema I’ll look at the Silverlink Odeon first (I’ll just stand back from the teacups!)
Oh and the film’s not bad. It’s not going to change the world or challenge your perceptions of anything at all – but it’s a fun way to spend a couple of hours – especially if you get a private viewing!