MIA: 8/14 .. Super crowded and bad customer service (long)

Associated parks:
None

Monday, August 16, 2004 12:15 PM
The first thing I have to say is that I never knew Michigan’s Adventure could get SO crowded. This was my third trip to the park, and in the past visits (one was the last Saturday of last year’s operating season, while the other was 4 Saturdays ago)
I have never waited more than 10 minutes for Shivering Timbers. This time the lines for the bathroom and Dippin’ Dots alone were about 15 minutes long. The parking lot was filled back to the third and fourth hills of the ST.

I will applaud MIA though for getting the lines for the rides to move quickly. My longest wait for ST was 35 minutes, and that line was down the ramp, and around 1 1/2 aisles of the long queue. I actually never knew there was a long queue since I had never been in it in the past, or ever saw it being used before now.

I waited for the front seat of ST once, and that was only an extra 4 trains. The other times, it was the front seat of the 2nd car. ST is one of the few coasters that I prefer the front seat. The view is great, but I am really only there for the air. The turn around mid-course seemed to be more extreme now than even the helix at the end. The ride was super fast in the later afternoon, and of course, it was a total blast. I have to give the ride a 10/10. Missing an entire hill, from the bottom, until the next hill’s bottom, is an example of pure bliss.

Now here is where the customer service problems begin…After a few rides, and the long lines, I decided to use one of the vending machines to get a bottle of water. The machine, of course, ate my $2. I talked to the lemonade stand worker next to the machines, and she told me to talk to the Dippin’ Dots worker to find out what to do. Well, the line for Dippin’ Dots was 15 deep, so instead I walked to the front of the park to Guest Relations. The line was a bit long, but I finally talked to someone and she said she needed to call her manager for my reimbursement. The manager arrived, but needed to help someone else first….and this story in itself is pretty funny.

A family rented a wheelchair for a member of their party. When they got to the park, the family drove up to the entrance, rented the wheelchair for the family member and all was good. After being in the park for sometime, they wanted to go back to the car for lunch. The one family member asked if they could bring the wheelchair to the car, and they were denied since the wheelchair was not supposed to leave the park. She then offered to leave her driver’s license and a credit card, since they were going to come back after lunch. The manager (I am totally kicking myself that I don’t have her name) was somewhat nice in that she offered a staff member to accompany the family (and the wheelchair) back to the family’s car for lunch, since someone needed to stay with the wheelchair the entire time. The family member explained that they were going to be eating and wouldn’t it be weird for the staffer to just be standing there while the family ate, and the manager said “Don’t worry. They won’t get in your way. They will just stand there”. Very strange, but humorous. My husband I joked about this later when we said that family actually travels all over the US taking wheelchairs from parks, and reselling them to afford all of their park visits.

So, after a very crowded walkway to get to Guest Relations, waiting to talk to someone about my problem, waiting for manager, it was finally my turn (spending 35 minutes of my time so far) to get some resolution for my stupid little problem. I explained to the manager what had happened with the machine eating my money and I had even provided her the number of the machine that was guilty. The manager offered me a free cup of soda at one of the foodstands, but I explained to her I just wanted either a bottle of water or my $2 back. She “graciously” offered me a cup of water. I was slightly confused by this, since a cup of water was free. She said that that was all she could do for me. I thought that this was somewhat bad customer service and explained to her at other parks I would either get reimbursed or be given a bottle of water. I told her how this happened to me at a SF park recently, and they gave me a coupon right away for another drink. The manager freaked out at this point, and yelled (no exaggeration!) at me “Did you know that SF is going bankrupt? It’s because all they do is give away freebies. They lost all of their money just giving things away”. I remained calm and explained that if I lose $2 in a machine, and you give me either my $2 back, or a replacement for what I was trying to buy for $2, you are not losing money. We are both breaking even. And giving me a free cup of water does not make us even. This just enraged her even more. I suck, I know!

FINALLY, she eventually agreed to give me my $2 back, but the food service manager (the only person who could help me) was actually at the water park, and it would be about a 15-minute wait. The manager suggested I stop at Guest Relations on my way out of the park and get my money then. I did ask though if I would have to wait for the food service manager for 15 minutes on my way out, and the manager explained that the money would be there for me in advance. I thanked her, and we finally went our separate ways.

As I walked back toward ST again, hoping that my husband would be done his previous ST runs, and hoping we could ride one together, I passed a soda and Boardwalk Fries stand that sold...dum dum dum...bottles of water. I shelled out another $2 and finally got my water.

The final icing on this cake for me though was that when I was leaving, and was walking back to Guest Relations at the front, the food stand next to Guest Relations, the very place this manager and I stood in front of whilst debating, sold bottles of water for $2. Anyway, I got my money at Guest Relations, and called it a day.

OK, maybe I am petty. Maybe I am cheap. Maybe I am making a big deal over an overpriced bottle of water. But by offering me nothing for compensation, not even an apology, is a little off for a CF park. Yes, the park was busy and I was persistent. But if you debate with a customer over $2, how are you going to handle more difficult situations?

**But maybe...I am just like the wheelchair family, and make all of my money scamming parks for a mere two dollars at a time :)

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Monday, August 16, 2004 12:33 PM
Great TR, if I was in your position, I'd be po'ed as well. If a vending machine steals your money, then you have every right to get your money back, or a coupon for a free drink. Why the manager was giving that Six Flags crap was pretty immature, especially for someone in management.

At least you had a good ride on ST!

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Monday, August 16, 2004 12:42 PM
Wait, wait, wait.

PLEASE don't tell me that the same manager who offered to tie up an employee for an hour because of the wheelchair policy is the same one who couldn't think through your water dilemma.

With problem-solving skills like those, no wonder she isn't entrusted with $2 worth of authority. Wow. Just wow.

-'Playa

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Monday, August 16, 2004 2:46 PM
Hahaha, what a customer service drama you heard and were a part of! Wowzers.
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