For the love of god, put me through to a human

I had to research some San Francisco movie theaters today – I can’t really say the reason for why I was doing this, but I was doing it for someone who needed specific info about theaters in the Bay area.  Anyways…

I live in Colorado and have no familiarity with SF.  Therefore, my primary resource was Google.  I typed in “San Francisco movie theaters” and looked through the first 20 results.  The problem was that there were only one or two reviews for each theater, and no real indication of whether it was an independent or adult film theater (seriously – I accidentally ended up calling the latter simply because there wasn’t enough information).

But the most infuriating part of this process BY FAR was when I called Cinearts at Empire.  Their phone number is 415-661-2539, and I’d encourage you to call it if you want to lose your mind.  Brace yourself for four minutes of an automated message with no option to talk to a human at the end.

I was under a time constraint while researching these theaters, so I wanted to speak to a manager as quickly as possible while making these calls.  Cinearts’ message consists of their show times, their location, etc.  Which is fine, but they gave me absolutely no choice, at any point, to speak with someone.  They have no other listed phone numbers (I even called 411 to double check), so this was the only way to “get in touch” with them.

The equivalent of this situation is walking into the doctor’s office with a terrible cold, sitting in the main waiting room for an hour, then when you finally think your name’s going to be called, they punch you in the face and throw you out.

Customers just want to be treated with respect – that’s all. If the price of automation makes your customers feel insulted, then spend a little more money and have a human at the other end of the line.

2 comments on “For the love of god, put me through to a human

  1. Very funny–I have actually called this very same theater (to find out about an online transaction) and was frustrated by their customer service too.

    I agree that this is certainly not permission marketing, but I wonder how much it will actually affect their profits. It would be hard for your run-of-the-mill movie theater to differentiate itself from the competition very much…

  2. I don’t think it has all that much to do with permission marketing; it’s just having respect for people’s time. Putting up a dead-end for potential customers when they call you is retarded. I don’t mind them filtering me through a complex phone menu, but a 4-minute message is insufferable.

    And yea, it probably won’t affect their bottom line in any measurable way – they could be an awesome theater, for all I know. But people’s perception of Cinearts (and other companies that pull this sort of crap) can be heavily affected by the little things. Customer service is simple but so many screw it up.

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