Inspiration, Enablement, Empowerment – from the heart

I’m writing this particularly with Customer Services people in mind, so please pay attention! Maybe sometimes you need to spin someone a line, you know… the very fact that you’re having to talk to a customer means that they’re not absolutely bowled over with your organisation’s product or service, so sometimes they might need mollifying. I get that… and sometimes it might be kinder to sort of skirt around things a bit… and providing you can send them away happy that you’ve put right whatever they needed you to put right, then that’s the main thing. But if you’re going to tell a porky or two, please at least try to make them reasonably credible.

In another post I mentioned how I’d bought a ticket for a Kylie gig that had been mislisted on Viagogo as being a VIP Party Package ticket, but turned out to be for an Upper Tier seat, right at the back of the O2, how I’d brought the matter to Viagogo’s attention and how they’d left the matter for some time before contacting me less than a week before the event. Now, Viagogo’s guarantee reads: Buyers are guaranteed to receive valid tickets in time for the event. If a problem arises, viagogo will step in to provide comparable replacement tickets or a refund in the rare instances where this is not possible. So how does the reality stack up?

When Viagogo’s customer services eventually got round to calling me, the story I was initially given, was that this was a listing problem caused by Viagogo’s own software… and that there were a couple of hundred of these, of which I was “about number 30 in the list”. I found this a little difficult to believe, given this was the only high-value ticket I saw listed at a price so significantly beneath it’s face value… and I’d been checking back at least a couple of times a day during the previous couple of weeks – credibility issue #1. If there had been a lot of similar mislistings, I would have seen evidence of this.

The rep went on to say that they’d be levying a penalty on the seller, even though they denied it was at all his fault. I queried this. “Could you just run that one by me again, because I’m a little confused. Did you just say that the problem is your fault, but you’ll still be penalising the seller?” “Yes” came the reply, “…we’ll be making a small reduction – just a small one – in what we pay the seller”. I didn’t press this further, but made a mental note to never, ever, under any circumstances, sell a ticket through Viagogo. I could list something correctly, they could screw it up, admit it was their fault and yet reduce my remittance? I don’t think so! This isn’t just credibility issue #2, but also a huge big red flag to any prospective seller.

Next came the news that they wouldn’t be providing a replacement VIP Party Package ticket, because “there’s no such thing for this event”. “Umm, yes there is” I said “…I’ve seen them listed on the official ticket agent’s site” – credibility issue #3! The story then became “ah yes, but there aren’t any available, is what I meant”. Hello? direct contradiction of previous excuse and also untrue, as there were some listed on competitor sites at that point, so credibility issue #4. It was then admitted that these tickets could be had, but “…they’re selling for seven or eight hundred pounds each”. No, there was one on a competitor site for a little under £100 (face value was around £370) and at least a couple of others for not much more – credibility issue #5. This was quickly followed up with “It’s getting near the event so prices are now skyrocketing”. Two thoughts occurred. The first was that I was seeing prices being asked doing exactly the reverse – the trend over the previous few days had been for the lowest prices being asked in each category to reduce and this continued for the following few days, so credibility issue #6. My second thought was that the ticket I had in my possession now had a lower resale value that it would have if Viagogo had been a little more prompt in dealing with the issue. And then, there was this… to do a replacement, I would need to return my ticket to the seller first, then the seller would need to advise Viagogo that he had it in his possession and only then would they authorise the purchase and dispatch of a replacement – and “…there’s not enough time to do that now”… not enough time, because Viagogo had left it so late! I’m not going to add this to the credibility issues list, because sadly, it’s all too credible.

So it either wasn’t possible, or it was just too expensive to provide a comparable replacement ticket. Well ok, it would have cost them a bit more than I’d paid to provide a comparable replacement, but certainly not several hundreds of pounds more and it would have produced a very satisfied customer who would have felt more inclined to use her resources to promote, rather than chastise, their service. So what about the alternative of a refund? He strongly advised me against that, because: “We can’t do that until the seller has received the ticket back and has notified us, so that would take ages”. He continued “…we don’t usually give a refund anyway, it’s more often a voucher for either 50% or 100% of the price paid for the ticket… and the ticket still needs returning first”. But he was prepared to offer me something special: “What we will do on this occasion, is to let you keep the ticket and we’ll give you a voucher for £50 against any future purchases”. I pointed out that I was deeply disappointed by this, but as they were unprepared to fully honour their guarantee, I could see no immediate alternative but to take this offer. I didn’t undertake to keep quiet about it though, hence this blog. As I documented in my previous post, in the end I couldn’t even give this ticket away!

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