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TOPIC: Refunds for sold out shows?

Refunds for sold out shows? 25 May 2008 17:49 #18872

  • Basecamp
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Hello,

We have had many sold out shows for opening weekend of Indiana Jones. Some patrons cruise in after the start time, only to be frustrated that they cannot sit together. Then they ask for a refund or exchange.

My partner and I are wondering if we should warn people when there are only a few seats left. He dislikes the idea, but I feel like people can then make an informed decision.

Sorry to vent, but who thinks they can walk into Indiana Jones 10 minutes late during Memorial Day weekend, and then be pissed that they don't get good seats? Love the money, hate the complaining....
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 25 May 2008 18:37 #18873

  • slapintheface
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We always tell when its front 2 rows and no 2 seats together.....We then will not give a refund for late people but will give a free pass..

"We guarantee a seat not were" ...thats my line
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 25 May 2008 19:17 #18874

  • ttroidl
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Usually the people who come in late, see the SOLD OUT sign on the B.O. window and startbitching till they get you to sell them tickets all the while telling them they won't find seats togeather, then 10 mins later they come out bitching that they can't find seats!

when we get down to 20-30 seats left we stop selling now and I go out to get people to move over and stop hogging empty seats!

Some get mad and don't want to until you ask them to pay for the seat they are refusing to allow a paying customer to sit it!

tony.
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 26 May 2008 00:10 #18875

  • Big Guy
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Warning people will make no difference. They will tell you they don't care, and then will come out pissed off that they can't sit together or have to sit in the front. If you deny them a refund, you can watch their heads explode from the sudden increase in blood pressure, even though they had been warned about the seating. We have people come out and demand a refund because "There are no empty seats" when there are still 40 seats left.

I'd rather deal with that than 20 people in a 250 seat auditorium, but it can still be frustrating...
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 26 May 2008 00:11 #18876

  • puzzlegut
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Usually once we get to a certain number of tickets, we'll start to warn people that they might not be able to sit together and we also tell them no refunds if they buy their tickets after given the warning. We have had a few times where people would complain even after they were given their warning. In some cases, they were usually couples and we would find 2 seats together but they didn't want to sit there.
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 26 May 2008 10:23 #18877

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The first conclusion I come to is that there is no possible way to make everyone happy all of the time, and that I have to find a way to make the best out of a no-win situation.

First, I would try to get them into a different screen that is not as busy, but realistially, that doesn't always work.

If that fails, and there are still some (mostly undesirable) seats available, I will offer them passes to return for another show. That does not always go over well either, in which case I will agree to refund their money.

Many of these situations can be avoided by having an usher (or parking attendant if it's a drive-in) "squeeze" the auditorium by requesting people in the middle of an aisle to not sit every-other seat, by having them move closer together to create more open seats.

The same principle applies to drive-ins where vehciles are parked too far apart or customers use their lawn chairs to spread out and take up extra spaces.

If you do not have an usher or parking attendant, you can sometimes lose 1/4 to 1/3 of your available space on busy shows to inconsiderate seat hogs.

Is it worth losing a customer by refusing to refund their movie ticket fees for a movie they haven't seen? That is a question that each theatre operator has to decide for themselves.

If you let them know the condition of the seating availability at the ticket window, you will have less problems when attempting to seat them or give them a pass. Guests who receive quality customer service are more likely to accept a pass to return on another night.

Rick
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 26 May 2008 10:26 #18878

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I have found that you can avoid a lot of headaches by posting an usher in a house that you expect to sell out or come close to selling out. Instruct the usher to ask people not to leave an empty "coutesy" seat between tham and the people next to them, and to ask people to start sitting in the middle of the aisles and then work your way outwards as you fill the seats. You can let people pick which row they want to sit in but have your usher ask them to sit in certain seats so as not to leave single empty seats in the middle of rows or taking up a seat with thier jackets and purses. This always works well for me.
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 26 May 2008 22:40 #18879

  • dsschoenborn
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We always warn them when there are x number of seats left. In our 142 houses we satrt at 100 in our 660 house we start at 400. in the 143 houses we normally don't sell over 135. In the 550 it depends on how we got them in. On one Harry Potter when I had the whole crowd come in and set in 30 minutes I think I sold 540 tickets with no real issues. When they come in over an hour they always leave blank seats and I can barly sell 500 and have 2 seat together.

We have always said tell them up front then they can chose to get a ticket for another time and show up early for their seat.
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 28 May 2008 16:25 #18880

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This is the beauty of assigned seating. Many theaters in England (and some in the US now) have large LCD monitors above the BO window which is connected to their POS system and they use assigned seating. That way, everyone in line can see exactly how many seats are left and where the empty seats are so there are no surprises when they reach the window. They simply choose their preferred seats and if they don't like any, they can see a different show or leave. No arguing, refunds, shuffling, announcing, seat hogs, etc. It works great, people love it, and assigned seating is a built-in function of RTS. Is it worth an LCD monitor? IMHO, it's a no-brainer.
"In a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it." -Martin Landau
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 28 May 2008 16:39 #18881

  • slapintheface
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It can also slow the boxoffice to a crawl...

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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 29 May 2008 09:42 #18882

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Not to any noticeable extent. You save time not having to answer questions about seating and refund policies to everyone. Just touch and go!

Even better- offer online assigned seating and shorten the line even more. But that's a whole other topic that's been discussed plenty before.
"In a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it." -Martin Landau
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 29 May 2008 14:13 #18883

  • rodeojack
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Technically, that might work. In practice, it would be a painful retraining of the ticket-buying public that, I don't think many theatres would be willing to do.

Added to this... those theatres that did and those that didn't.

It took nearly 10 years before credit card usage hit critical mass. Theatres were reluctant to use the early terminals... they were VERY slow. Once the investment was made, customers didn't expect the service to be available.

It was a slow give and take, but now, theatres can see a fairly substantial percentage of their income from plastic transactions. I'm a real believer in it. The online processing concept makes it at least as fast as a cash transaction. Customers are as likely to hand over a card as fish for cash.

So, would reserved seating work? Probably... but I doubt anyone but the live venues would go for it in any great numbers.

Besides... it's more common that you'll walk into an auditorium and watch your film with only 5 to 10 other people anyway.

[This message has been edited by rodeojack (edited May 29, 2008).]
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 22 Jun 2008 21:47 #18884

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Reserved seating is beyond theory, it's a normal part of the theater-going experience in many areas. We would purposely go to the theaters with assigned seating as opposed to non-assigned for the convenience and guarantee of seats together on packed nights. It's beautiful. Instead of it being a painful experience for the theater as one might expect, it was a selling point they proudly used in their marketing.

Re-training may take a little while at first, but choosing your seats on a touch-screen monitor is about as difficult as choosing the numbers on a microwave.
"In a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it." -Martin Landau
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Re: Refunds for sold out shows? 23 Jun 2008 01:55 #18885

  • rodeojack
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Yes, my good man... but as you well know, things are usually done somewhat differently, up north of the border!

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