Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Good Girl Houses

My 4 y.o. has intensely loved from birth the only present sent to her from Manhattan when she was born, a square of pink fleece with a bunny head on one corner.  She needs Good Girl around.  My daughter's first words were naming the bunny, "good girl".  I walked around holding my beloved calling her my good girl, and she had a soft thing to carry around that she loved, so she named her Good Girl too.

Good Girl has caused me unimaginable suffering.  She is always lost and I always have to find her.  It consumes my time in a way that must count for some kind of Olympic parenting.  My husband has tracked miles through Sports Directs, movie theatres, I've been back to hospitals, we have begged our neighbour to drive us back to parking lots in hail storms, Good Girl has been dropped on the Trumpington Road Bike Path, left in Public Toilets,  deliberately hidden by Liberty to forestall us getting our flights back to the UK. We always find Good Girl.  But I do not appreciate the demands this makes upon my time.  Also Good Girl gets disgustingly dirty.  Liberty treats that thing like the towel in Hitchikers' Guide to the Galaxy.  And in the UK washing things requires a lot of attention.  Just figuring out how to use their washing machines is so hard. 

Liberty left Good Girl at Funky Fun House on Saturday afternoo.  She was attending Edoardo's 4th birthday party - a very sophisticated gathering of Italian biologists and infomaticians (that is what they called themselves) and a reminder that it doesn't completely suck to live in Cambridge all the time.  Snow was falling thick and fast and my husband was away and Liberty was trying on a little howling for despair, I lost it.  I stood on the ground floor and bellowed to Liberty and Owain upstairs that GOOD GIRL WAS NEVER LEAVING THE HOUSE EVER AGAIN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES EVER EVER AGAIN.

There is a complicated sub-plot involving a substitute introduced too early who is now known as GOOD GIRL'S SISTER but I set that aside.

Liberty actually seems seriously fine with the new bright line.  She has a new line in subversive activity to keep her busy.  Her astounding nursery school, Homerton, is letting the kids model junk.  They glue pieces of paper onto cardboard cartons for eggs, cat food, smoothies.  Liberty started bringing so many home that it annoyed me.  She immediately thought this reaction was the most charming thing ever and one that she had to have again at all costs.  She started bringing home huge grocery bags of these junk sculptures.  They are houses for Good Girl and Good Girl's Sister, tents for them, make-up cases for them, fun things for them.  I have started putting them straight in the trash, which I don't think Liberty actually minds.  As long as she gets a good whiff of annoyance from me she is good.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What I Did Today

So my friend S bought four tickets to Privates on Parade back in July.  We actually also bought tickets to Peter and Alice - both plays in the Michael Grandage season and really expensive.  S bought them through See Tickets.  He paid margins (a price over the advertised seat price because he followed the See Tickets link, transaction fees of £2.75 per ticket and a further £2 PER TICKET on a bogus insurance product claiming they will refund the ticket price if you can't go.  (More on that later).  Also the Noel Coward Theatre had added on £5.75 to the price of the ticket for its own outright fees.   So before the story begins, we have paid £10.50 PER TICKET to the booking agent and the website See Tickets.

Now, my husband R cannot go.  But my dear friend Nick who is a wheelchair user can go, and really would like to.  This morning I called S to see if I could try to move the tickets.  He gladly agreed.  I then called the Noel Coward theatre and asked if the wheelchair spaces are free for Privates on Parade on Thursday night and asked if they would switch them.  They could not switch the tickets (well, they could have but declined).  I pointed out that in the end they had control over where people sat and they could just move us but they would not agree to help.  I asked if we could just show up with the tickets and move to the wheelchair space.  Absolutely not, he said, obviously peeved that I was taking his time.

Rather than deal with it, the Noel Coward Theatre passed the buck to the booking agent, the Voldemort of this story, See Tickets.  See Tickets has a "customer service" number that you pay a premium price to call.  I burned through 60p at least to listen to a message that there was no way to speak to a live person on the call.  I was directed to their website where I could leave an inquiry if I had on hand the postcode, surname, email of the buyer and reference number.  I trolled the internet for S's postcode and left an inquiry, and then had to brief S on the whole thing.  See Tickets responded with an email from a donotreply address.  I mean, for the love of god this is customer service.   At £10.50 no one will help us, and you can't even send an email to them to complain because they use a donotreply address and there is no way to call and speak to a human on the phone.  How can they justify these kind of transaction prices?  They cannot.  It is unconscionable.  The donotreply address said, in the cruelest half man half snake icy message you have ever read:

"As per the terms and conditions on our website, www.seetickets.com agreed to
at the time of purchase;

Once purchased, tickets cannot be transferred, exchanged, refunded or
returned unless the event is cancelled, moved to another date . . .  "

So for £10.50 per ticket, Noel Coward Theatre has screwed us and See Tickets has screwed us.  
 The thing is, this whole thing is just unconscionable.  Here are the facts:  (1) Actors and producers want the public to see their art and the public wants to see it; (2) these two entities, the Noel Coward Theatre and See Tickets, both charge both sides the producer and the audience DEARLY  (3) They seem to be charging dearly to keep seats empty and ignore patrons.  As a result (4)  the best work of a fierce litigator with an understanding of the disability laws being violated cannot procure a seat change for a disabled man and by now (5) I want to never go to a play in London again because I am so angry. 

When did we let it get so awful?  

So I drafted a reply to their email but there was no way to send it, but the draft gave me an idea to kick this up a notch.  So I emailed Michael Grandage's company then followed him on twitter to ask nicely if he could help.  After two of those, that didn't seem to be doing anything so I started hate tweeting See Tickets.  

Here are my tweets:  

  1.  I don't feel like launching a twitter campaign about your grasping ways but you leave me no choice. We paid £68 per ticket.

    Image will appear as a link
  2.  Motto: The parasite sucking the margins out of live art without providing any value.
  3.  motto: taking more than our fair share from audiences and performers and to hell with them both
  4.  Your motto: "Treating audiences like worthless plebs"
  5.  Can anyone let a guy in a wheelchair see a play? In violation of access laws protecting the disabled,  says no.
  6.  How dare you not allow customers who have paid you money enter into dialogue with you? You leave me no choice but to go here.
  7.  Avoid booking your tickets with See Tickets! They are like the evil parts of Ticketmaster but with Voldemort thrown in.
  8.  You are the most grasping, unfriendly, unhelpful, oppressive ticket booking agent. Unconscionable fees, NO CUSTOMER SERVICE
  9.  Why won't you let us use a stall seat ticket for a wheelchair? The wheelchair space is free, but you refuse to help.

After I did that for a while, they called S and said they had arranged for us to have the box.  

See, we have to stand up to injustice.  The next time something really bothers you, you go next, you do it too, don't give up.  To hell with this pay it forward on behalf of shooting victims.  Let's start protecting our consumer rights, our human rights, one faceless cruel organization at a time.