There have been a few diaries recently commenting about poor experiences with Guest Services at the ballpark. I will reiterate what many have said, that service in the Ticket Services office is exemplary, but I too have had my share of recent interactions with ballpark services people that have left a bad taste in my mouth. I have attached a copy of a letter I just sent to Customer Service about something that happened at Tuesday night's game. I'll be interested to see the reactions from all of you.
Oakland Athletics Customer Service
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to express my concern over an episode I witnessed at Tuesday night's (8/29) game against the Red Sox. I was sitting in the upper portion of section 125, and late in the game, I believe the 7th inning, with two on and two out and Mark Ellis at bat, two A's fans below us stood up to cheer for Ellis. Apparently, someone behind them complained and asked them to sit down, and soon a Guest Services person went down to tell them they had to sit. By their body language, their response seemed to be surprised and they motioned for others to stand but no one did, except a Sox fan standing next to them. Shortly thereafter, Security personnel arrived and quite clearly were motioning for the "standers" to come with them. They were not there to talk to them, they were there to remove them. After some resistance, the three "standers" were ultimately taken away, and presumably thrown out of the stadium.
I must point out that at no time were these fans acting threateningly, or taunting other fans, and unless I didn't notice I don't recall that they had been acting up throughout the game in a way that was purposely disruptive to the fans around them. I've seen that happen, and this wasn't one of those cases. I also recognize the need to provide a safe and comfortable environment, and generally appreciate the effort that both Guest Services and Security people put forth in sometimes-difficult situations. But this situation did not involve a dispute or taunting - as mentioned, there were two A's and one Sox fan that were standing and cheering. These fans simply wanted to stand up and root on their team, and for that they were thrown out of the game.
I may not have been so disturbed by this had I not witnessed a similar event a few weeks ago, when a couple stood up in a similar situation - late in the game, close score - and without even anyone complaining the Guest Services person quickly went over to tell them to sit down.
I had a lengthy conversation with the Guest Services person and another Security guard (not the one who did the tossing) after the event on Tuesday, as a number of us watching this whole process transpire were vocal about the unfairness of the treatment of the fans. He indicated his discomfort with the situation, and said he was only acting upon policy. When I mentioned the prior event that I witnessed, and that I had never seen this before at games, he agreed that as a long-time employee he had never seen this happen before this year.
So it appears you have a policy whereby fans are not allowed to stand up to cheer if no one else is standing around them. Or, that if someone seated complains about someone standing in front of them, Security can make the person in front sit down. I would be curious to know how this is defined - is there a threshold above which you can't complain, such as if no more than ten people are standing, those behind them have the right to make them sit, but if 11 or more are standing that constitutes a legitimate "rally cheer" that can't be opposed? Can fans complain about people standing in front of them to do the wave when there's no real rally going on?
Given the difficulty in attracting new fans to attend games, this heavy-handedness applied recently would seem to be a counterproductive policy that discourages fan support. I know if I were one of those three fans that got thrown out for standing up and cheering for Ellis, I would be reluctant to ever spend another dime at the stadium. This policy, however it is written, needs to be eliminated or, at the least, modified to allow for judgment in the case of late inning rallies.