No Laughing Matter: My Epic Battle Against a Ticket Company and a Comedy Festival


miloHey Pal:

As you well know, and as our many reader should know, I have spent the past week getting all David-y against a couple of Goliaths. Here’s the lowdown.

The Issue

I hate to name names so let’s just say I was struggling to secure tickets to a certain annual comedy festival in Toronto through a certain company – well, monopoly, really – that sells tickets and demands you call it master.

The details are tedious. Suffice to say I needed to transfer a ticket from Mrs. Pal’s account to me, and upon doing so the ticket disappeared. There were countless phone calls to Ticket Company and countless emails to Festival (Festival is crafty enough to not have a phone number, they know they’ll get inundated). My mood fluctuated between frustration and rage.

Eventually, I descended into despair and took my case to social media, sending tweets to Festival and, for good measure, to my favourite comedian performing at Festival, to declare how I had suffered and to plead for help. The Twitter guy at Festival was extremely responsive and sympathetic, but his advice was that I should send an email to Festival  after which, he was certain, all would be fixed.

Through all of this, everyone I communicated with was relatively pleasant but the problem remained unfixed and, in a turn of events more predictable than death and taxes combined, Ticket Company blamed Festival and Festival blamed Ticket Company.

So at the stroke of 9 a.m. this morning, I steeled my will, picked up the phone and called Ticket Company one last time.

The Conversation

Simon: Good morning! Thanks for calling Ticket Company! This is Simon! How can I help you?

Me: Simon, based on how happily you’re talking, I don’t think you know who I am.

S: Who are you?

Me: In a world of people who hate your company, I am the person who hates your company the most.

S: Eddie Vedder?

Me: No, I am Milo Pal and, Simon, I have had a lifetime of struggles with your company. In two decades of trying to buy tickets to the shows I love, I have never had an easy time of it. The problems generally involve not being able to log on or getting logged out at the worst possible times, typically resulting in me once again sitting at the very back of the Rogers Centre trying to see tiny specks on a distant stage. For this, I am always charged a “convenience” fee, which I think you and I can agree, Simon, is probably the single worst bit of spin doctoring language ever created – and this is coming from a guy who actually has a strong appreciation for good spin doctoring.

S: So you’re a doctor?

Me: Stay with me Simon. Here’s the situation – your company, or a comedy festival, has done it again. I’m not sure which, I just know I have a problem. I have spoken to many of your colleagues, all of whom were just as sweet as you seem to be, but no one has been able to find my missing ticket. So here’s what’s going to happen, Simon. You and I are going to stay on the phone together until this is solved. Hold on Simon…

(Gets up from desk, closes office door, returns to desk, puts Simon on speaker phone, puts feet on desk.)

Me: So, as I was saying, you and I are going to stay on the phone all day if that’s what it takes and neither of us is going anywhere until I have the missing ticket in my hand. Sorry to do this to you, Simon, but enough is enough.

Simon: Is Eddie there? Can I talk to him?

Me: No, now let’s get to work.

The Resolution

And so Simon and I got to work. And after a substantial review of every email I had received – after a thorough analysis of all the accumulated information – we solved the mystery. The ticket had indeed been transferred, but it had been transferred back into my wife’s account, the place where it had started. The email I received saying the ticket had been transferred “successfully” obviously has a different definition of success than I do.

I thanked Simon for his time. I let him go. I sent a tweet to my Twitter friend at Festival to tell him I had figured it out. He instantly replied with an explosion of glee, and complimented me on my excellent taste in comedians.

Lessons Learned

  1. I’m an idiot. A more thoughtful, less enraged, look at my wife’s Ticket Company account probably should have tipped me off to what had happened.
  2. Ticket Company still sucks. As pleasant as the customer service folks were (good ol’ Simon chief among them), someone there should have and could have identified the essence of the problem — an absurd problem that never should have happened, I might add — and fixed it on the spot. This is why idiots like me call help centres like theirs – to save us from ourselves.
  3. If you’re having a problem, and there are two organizations involved, there is a 100% chance that each organization will blame the other. Message to all of us in the working world – rise above such crap. Take ownership. Next time someone calls with a problem, assume that maybe they’re right and see what you can do to fix it.
  4. If you’re ever in a battle with an organization and you decide to take your case to social media, be respectful about it and don’t expect miracles. Hands down, the Twitter guy at Festival was the most responsive person I dealt with in all of this (it is ingrained into social media guys and gals to be thus), and there was evidence that my public griping (delivered respectfully) helped bring some urgency to my case, but it did not in and of itself solve the problem. For that, I needed Simon and I needed to finally calm down a bit and, in the words of Ed Harris in Apollo 13, “work the problem.”

And that’s my story – looking forward to a few laughs at the festival after which I’m sure all of this will be forgotten until, of course, the next time I try to “conveniently” buy tickets from my friend Simon’s masterful employer.

Later, Pal.



One response to “No Laughing Matter: My Epic Battle Against a Ticket Company and a Comedy Festival

  1. Although Simon sounded like a decent enough human being, I can absolutely appreciate your frustration. I have had some fairly horrific situations involving customer service departments. It’s a sad and helpless feeling. I am so happy that it all got worked out. Kudos to you for “working the problem.” I look forward to laughing with you at the comedy festival.

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