There is No "A" in Customer Service

Have you ever had a situation happen where something upsetting happens during an otherwise wonderful event and time and thus you don't feel like you should be a sour puss and complain, when complaining is something you really, really want to do?

I mean, if I were to tell you that two of the last three games I saw were Milton Bradley's walk off against the Blue Jays on July 30 and Tuesday's beat down of Seattle, you'd think I was crazy to complain about anything right?  Exactly.

So, instead of complaining, I thought I'd write my fellow Oakland fans about some experiences I've had, offer my two cents and see what kind of ideas everyone else had on the subject of Customer Service and the Oakland A's.

Before I begin, however, let me just tell you of a situation that happened a couple of seasons back when I bought tickets to an A's/Giants game off of eBay.  My friend and I get to SBC or whatever it was called back then only to find out that the tickets were someone's season tickets that had been stolen.  We were escorted to the admin offices and asked if we would be willing to fill out a complaint and document our experience about buying these tickets from E-bay, which we did.  For helping them out, the Giants (who I still hate and mock at every opportunity) traded me my first base side, upper row, stolen tickets for some very, very nice ones behind home plate.

Flash forward to July 30's game when my little brother and step son, both kid's club members, get to the game when the gates open because my step son got a flyer to get some autographs before the game for that day.  My little brother, who has been a member for the last five years, got the same flyer but only for a different game.  Obviously, I'm thinking that this isn't something that can't be figured out and I take both boys down with their flyers and explain how they're pretty much brothers and since their isn't a lot of kids there and everything....nope....I'm told by the acting head of the Kid's Club that my little brother can't go on the field because his flyer is for another game.  No exceptions.  So my eight-year-old brother has to watch as his nine-year friend gets to get autographs and talk to the players.

Saw the A's beat Texas with a group of friends on the fifth, which was great before coming to the game with my other friend for the first time this season since Game 2.  We've got seats in section 127, row 30.  We get there about ten minutes early, do the whole guy space seat thing and I put my feet up the empty seats in front of us.  About five minutes later, a guy and his wife show up and sit right smack down in front of me. Now, I understand that those are their seats, but what always confuses me is why people feel this need to sit right in front of other people when there are a million other options available.  But hey, no big deal, I move my feet.  By the bottom of the first my friend and I are now sitting next to one another with people in front of us, behind us and on both sides, which I would have loved, had this been a play off game or anything other than a Tuesday night.  That's when I look over to see that section 126; rows 30 to 36 are completely empty.  Okay, I'm sorry, there was a guy sitting by himself in row 36.  So I tell my friend, hey, let's move over there.

Not a minute after sitting down the usher from section 125 comes over and asks to see our tickets.  We show her and she tells us we have to go to our seats.  I then say, "There's a bunch of people over there and I'd rather sit here if that's okay?"   To which she answers, I kid you not, "These seats are sold, otherwise you would have been able to buy these tickets."  I'm sorry, since when did buying tickets on-line or even at the box office if the option to pick the row AND seat that you wanted?  And just so everyone knows, no one, NOT A SINGLE PERSON, sat in those seats all night long.

Okay, so I realize that the boys had two different flyers to two different games and technically my brother wasn't supposed to be there. And yes, my tickets were for section 127, not 126...but I also understand that the Giants could have told me, "hey, you bough stolen tickets, sorry."  The thing is, in my opinion, as much as it pains me to write it and thus admit it, the Giants did the right thing and the A's...well, maybe there's a reason we can't sell out a smaller stadium...

Ouch!  Okay, so this is the part of my long rant where I give some suggestions on how I think the A's could improve on their customer service and where you write me to tell me how great the A's customer service has been towards you and how you wouldn't change a thing.

Suggestion #1: Make one, bank-teller-like-line from all the concession stands so I don't always get suck in the short line with the slow cashier.

#2: Tear down those stupid green fences that block the view of the field, but keep those cool displays you have on them.  I know they put these there so people wouldn't gather around and watch the game, but come on, it's tacky, and everyone knows it.

#3: Do more for the kids.  The kid's club is great (mostly), but the kid's area leaves a lot more to the imagination.  Remember, the children are our future.  Man, that's good.  That could probably be a song....

#4: Bring in the drummers.  Bring back the whole band.  The Sacramento Kings, (yes, I'm a Kings' fan too...something about post-season heartbreak) have cowbells that help drive opponents crazy, we need some more noise (Make some noise!)

#5:  For God's sake, stop thinking that your revenue is based on ticket sells.  Where did you go to business school?  15,000 fans paying $50 a ticket isn't' going to make you more money than 45,000 fans paying $10 a ticket, $8 a beer and $6 a small pizza.  More people equals more concessions.  How do you think movie theaters are run?

#6: More Promotions.  The Padres are great at this.  We, we are not.  Got to their web site and see all there promotions and then see ours.  
#7:  Remember, baseball is a business.  Those are your words, not mine.  So remember that if that's the reason we can't afford to keep our stars then that's also the reason you should be going that extra mile to fill the seats.

#8: Create Stars.  What made Jason Giambi and Miggy stars?  Was it their numbers or was it because they stepped up in the national spotlight (i.e. day games that east coast viewers and ESPN could publicize)?  Take our players public, if only locally.  Get them out there in big events and advertise those events.  None of this little blurb stuff on Extra Innings...that thinking too small.  THINK BIGGER.

Okay, I'm done.  What's your input?

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