Classy Action from a Classy Organization

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It’s no secret around here I’m a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan.

When the NHL announced last year that the 2012 NHL Entry Draft would be held in Pittsburgh at the team’s beautiful new CONSOL Energy Center building, I told my wife we should really try to go. Since getting to a game up there (I live in the metro DC area, for those who don’t know) is well nigh difficult – and expensive – it was  a great shot for us to go see the new digs. Tickets, when released to the public, are free for both Round 1 (Friday evening) and Rounds 2-7 (Saturday morning/afternoon). The trick is being on hand to squeeze into the lottery for the tickets.

Because of my current work situation and schedule, I was going to be home on Tuesday, June 5 when the tickets would be released. Only 3,000 were going to be open for the public to snag, and I squared the 15 minutes or so I’d need ahead of time; no phone, no freelancing, no nothing. Just me, the laptop, and the Penguins ticket site on refresh.

What happened then was a complete disaster-turned-awesome – all thanks to Ticketmaster (disaster) and the Penguins organization (awesome). Rather than explain, I’ll simply share the emails that occurred since then.

On Behalf Of bhrome
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2012 10:21 AM
To: Customer Service
Subject: Pittsburgh Penguins/Ticketmaster

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing to express my extreme disappointment with your website’s handling of the 2012 NHL Draft tickets released to the public today. While I was denied the ability to get 2 tickets to Friday night’s Round 1 event – despite having clicked onto the site as soon as my DNS refreshed at 10:00 a.m., I was informed there were no seats available.

I then tried to select 4 tickets for Saturday’s event. I was successful, but for some reason my account password had been changed and after multiple attempts, finally got the email with a new password. I input the new password and was then informed that my cart – which had four tickets in them – was now empty. The timer, which tells me how much time I have to place the order, had not gone past the 15 minute mark.

So I tried again. This time, I was already logged in. My order went to the cart. When the page came up for delivery options, I was then informed that my time had expired. Yet I’d only spent less than 60 seconds on the process – the timer had reset to 19:59 and was at 19:32 at that point.

When I tried ONE MORE TIME, I was then told there were no more tickets available.

You can see how frustrating this is for me. I live in Virginia and was hoping to make the 2012 NHL Draft the first visit for my wife and I to the CONSOL Center. We’ve been Pens fans for more than 25 years and regularly attended games at the Civic/Mellon Arena before moving to Virginia seven years ago. And, for whatever it’s worth, I am a local hockey blogger that covers the Capitals but still holds fervent loyalty to the Penguins.

To say I’m extremely disappointed and agitated is putting it lightly.

While I’d love to see a great resolution to this complaint, I’m grounded in reality. In the hopes that somehow, someone actually reads this and cares about treating fans and customers decently, I would ask at the very least that your Ticketmaster site process be fixed so that fans, who cannot attend Pens games and events on a regular basis but would love to have that chance, not be screwed by an online process center like Ticketmaster.

While this doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the Penguins, it does start my summer off on a decidedly down note.

Signed, a very, very disappointed fan.

I figured that was the end of that. I’d said my piece, blew out my anger, and moved on.

Imagine my surprise when I got the following in my inbox this morning:

From: Nicole K.
Sent:
Wednesday, June 06, 2012 10:45 AM
To:
bhrome
Subject: RE: Pittsburgh Penguins

Hi Ben,

Thank you for writing.

I’m sorry you experienced difficulty in getting tickets. Due to the volume of traffic on the site, we experienced some technical glitches. I am holding 2 Saturday Draft tickets for you, if you would still be interested. If you could please let me know as soon as possible either way, I would appreciate it. Could you also please confirm your current mailing address?

Thank you and again I am sorry for any inconvenience this technical glitch may have caused you.

Have a great day!

Needless to say, I was floored. (Of course I accepted their offer!) They didn’t have to do that. They didn’t even have to acknowledge my email. (I’ve emailed Ticketmaster before about glitches and never heard a response.) But what Ms. K. – a sales account executive – at the Penguins offices did was above and beyond anything I even expected. They didn’t have to do any of what they did…and yet, they did.

I’ve been a fan for nearly three decades. And with class like this – from their people on the front lines in the front offices, even – I will remain a fan of the organization for many, many more to come. I very much look forward to attending the Draft and absorbing it completely, as well as breaking it down for Caps fans (as I do nearly every year for WeLoveDC.com). Being able to do it in person, in the building I’ve wanted to visit since opening night….beyond awesome.

Thank you, Pittsburgh Penguins. You’ve made two fans-for-life today.

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