Thursday, 25 August 2005

Puzzle of the Day

I’ve just spent nearly two hours trying to book theatre tickets for the forthcoming Royal Shakespeare Company London season. The National Theatre priority booking forms are always a bit tricky and counter-intuitive, but you need a degree in something (but what?) to fill in the RSC ones.

There was no proper schedule of performances – a calendar with plays clearly marked, just separate blocks of dates for each play (and there were seven of those I wanted to see) so you couldn’t see the “big picture” and there was a risk of booking two plays for the same date.

Then there was the odd weird instruction and you had to rack your brain to try and fathom what on earth they might mean.

Why do they think anyone has the time for this? I suppose the subscription and seats are so expensive that they reckon only wealthy retired people can afford to book anyway. I adore the RSC – they are the reason why I moved to the UK (long story), but when the mailing from them lands on my mat my heart sinks and I get panicky.

And don’t get me started on the fact that they lied to me – and to Dame Judi Dench, which is much worse – when they promised to find a home in London that wouldn’t be a West-End type theatre. So what do they choose as their London base: the Strand Theatre (they can't fool us by renaming it the Novello Theatre? Ha!). Liar, liar, pants on fire!



  1. I want to slap US firms who have the sort of automated phone answering system where unless you know your 'party's' name and/or extension you can only speak to a machine. What the hell is wrong with speaking to a human being and leaving a message.

  2. That drives me nuts! Let's slap them too (I slapped UK companies back in February)! Everything's done through a machine these days.

  3. Good lord Two hours? That's crazy. I don't mind some automated phone services - like my credit union's service where I can just use the phone's keypad to check the balance. But for something service oriented like selling tickets, I can't understand why they wouldn't staff real live people to answer questions and help. It would probably help with sales figures, too, I bet.

  4. In my experience there is always one thing not clear on every form one ever has to fill in. Why don't they test it on a guinea pig first? Oh, I forgot, the farm closed down...

  5. K, during the priority booking period you can't book by telephone; you have to fill in a form and send it off. Later, you can and they don't use an automated telephone service for that. Still, when you're booking for seven different plays it can get a little confusing over the phone.

    I agree with you, L. LOL!

  6. I hate automated phone answering services! Out here they overprice tickets to events and then end up cancelling them because of low sales or lack of interest. If they started prices at an affordable rate they wouldn't have to do that! It doesn't make any sense anyhow as they sped hundreds of dollars trying to advertise events that will be cancelled!

  7. I don't think this happens very often here: London shows are usually heavily booked - at least those at subsidized theatres; that's why I belong to their priority mailing lists.

    It's all very annoying.

  8. Gosh, that reminds me--what have I done with the tickets to the Opera National de Paris that just came in the mail. *panics* Dear J, thank you for the blue paragraph from the other day! I'm going to follow through on that lead. But, back to the matter at hand, how maddening and frustrating. I always make myself breathe and levitate when similarly frustrated.

  9. Hope you find those tickets, L. What are you going to see? I've only been to the Paris Opera once - back in the '60s. I saw Gounod's Faust, with Xavier Depraz as Mephistopheles (he was wonderful). "Ange pur, An-GE radiiiieux..." I remember the blue Chagall ceiling clashing with the red and gold of the decor, and that the little children bumped into each other in that scene...

    Do try and get hold of that book: it's really lovely. The author is American (it was anglicized for UK readers); I can give you more info about it if you like. :-)

    I haven't tried levitation yet; I must try and use that next time.


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