Why Do We Give Parks a Pass on Customer Service?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:31 AM
I was cruising some coaster vids and found this gem yesterday. If you skip past the impressive expletive combo praising Millennium Force to about 0:40, you get a very short, but extrememly poignant commentary about how we as guests seem to roll over when is comes to lackluster customer service. As he says, "We just forgive those (N's) everytime!"

I constantly read on various boards about how crappy and dirty this park or that park is and how we wish they would change, but despite our disgruntlement we continue to go to said park(s) religiously to get our ride fixes. I can't say $h!t becuase I'm a "forgiver", but it really got me wondering why we do it.

None of us would probably stick around with a girl/guy who constantly treated us like dirt just because they happened to by dynamite in bed (okay, some of us might) but that's exactly what's going on here. I guess they've got the goodies and we just can't resist. Shoddy treatement must be the price of admission sometimes.

This discussion goes nowhere really, but I love the guy's point. It's right on.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:36 AM
eightdotthree's avatar We put up with it because if we don't we won't get to ride a great coaster like Millennium Force.

To argue with that review for the heck of it, Cedar Point's CS may not be up to par with a Disney park, but its far from terrible.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:37 AM
Considering most major cities usually only have one, at most two, large amusement parks within a convenient range, the issue is basically one of monopoly. For many people, the situation is one of either taking the crappy service at their local park, or not go to one at all.

It's very different from, say, 80 years ago when every big town seemed to have two or three parks and even smaller towns often had a park of their own.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:40 AM
Mamoosh's avatar Not everyone puts up with it. After years of horrid customer service I simply stopped visiting all Six Flags parks. My last visit was to SFOG three years ago and that was the only SF park I visited that year.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 12:39 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Hmmm.

I think it comes back to two things I'm slowly starting to believe:

1. Not that customer service doesn't matter in the big scheme of a park visit, but I think around here we tend to put too much weight on its importance in the equation, because...

2. I believe people generally visit parks for the rides. The rides are what the parks are selling the customer. The ride lineup is probably the single biggest factor in the guest experience for most people through the gate. I've said this before, but a park that literally kisses your ass, but has no rides wouldn't be much of an amusement park. The rides are the product - everything else is just details.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 12:58 PM

Mamoosh said:Not everyone puts up with it.

What he said! ^^ I used to go to 3 or 4 SF's a year.

I gave up on them, have not been in 2 years.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 1:05 PM
janfrederick's avatar I generally agree with Gonch. But parks must know that people will find something else to doif they treat guests like crapo...rides or not. Who would want to expose their family to that? Unless the rides are REALLY good...kind of like the soup Nazi's soup.

What kind of margins do parks run on? If it's narrow, I'd imagine that the customer service is pretty darned important.


"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 1:14 PM
matt.'s avatar

Emiroo said:
but despite our disgruntlement we continue to go to said park(s) religiously to get our ride fixes.

I have, reportedly, one of the best wooden coasters in the world about 3 hours drive south of me but my last visit was so upsettingly bad I haven't been in 3 years.

I also have a steel coaster 20 minutes north of me which is consistently ranked as the best 1 or 2 in the world and I go maybe once every other year or so.

I understand your sentiment that a lot of people do willingly deal with bad parks to ride good rides but trust me, there are plenty of other people who have found other stuff to do with their time and money.

Thinking back on it now I've lived in CT for about 6 years now and in that time I've spent more days at Disneyland than I have at SFGAdv.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 1:32 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

janfrederick said:
But parks must know that people will find something else to doif they treat guests like crapo...rides or not.

I'd imagine that the customer service is pretty darned important.


As important as it is anywhere, but no more so. I'm not saying you can treat people like crap and get away with it, but the product is what draws.

I'd say that's true for just about any business - you go because they have what you want. You visit an amusement park for rides. You visit the grocery store for food. You visit a dentist for dental care. You get the point.

As far as what choice to make, you find the place that offers the price, service, environment or whatever variable that fits your wants and needs, but first and foremost is finding a place that offers the product.

The attitude in that video is no different than tolerating Wal-Mart for low prices or stopping by that seedly little bar on the edge of town because they have awesome wings or spending a little extra on clothes because you like shopping at the upscale shopping center across town.

In all of those cases you tolerate deficiencies because another factor in the equation is more important and I'm of the mindset that no factor will ever be more important than the product itself. For amusement parks, it's the rides.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 2:13 PM
Mamoosh's avatar I've said this before, but a park that literally kisses your ass, but has no rides wouldn't be much of an amusement park.

And a park that has a ton of rides but treats customers like crap would be about as fun as having wisdom teeth removed. Even if SFMM had a clone of SFNE's Superman, HW's Voyage, Silverwood's Tremors, Knoebels' Phoenix, BGW's Apollo's Chariot, and any other of my favorites I still wouldn't visit if customer service was crap. In fact it was so horrid for so many years that I still can't bring myself to visit even though reports are that the park has improved.

Thanks, but I'll take your empty park and some ass-kissing please! :)

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 2:21 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Mamoosh said:
And a park that has a ton of rides but treats customers like crap would be about as fun as having wisdom teeth removed.

Agreed.

However, a park with no rides and perfect customer cervice isn't going to draw very many people looking to ride. A park with lots of big rides and crap customer service will.

The point remains that the rides are the product. The park sells rides.


Thanks, but I'll take your empty park and some ass-kissing please!

You want to visit or work there? ;)


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 2:32 PM
I am of the mindset that customer service pretty much blows in all industry these days. Why should amusement parks be the exception?

In fact, the times I get good/great customer service are far and few between so when those situations do come up I make sure I know the business owner, manager or whomever know how much I truly appreciate it.

As good as Disney is their customer service is not the same now as it was a decade ago. I don't think Starbucks is as good now as they were five years ago. (In fact, they felt the same way not long ago and took the unprecedented move of closing ALL of their locations one evening a few months ago to retrain all of the staff.)

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 2:43 PM
For every person who likes the good wings or the nice teeth, there's a person who says they stopped going to that restaurant because the service was lousy, or the dentist was rude to his patients.

For most of the past 25 years, the economy has been humming, people have had a lot of cash to spend, and the population of the country has increased by tens of millions. There's no reason why attendance at the major theme parks (other than Disney) should have been basically flat for so many years. Maybe the poor service contributed to it.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 3:19 PM
Mamoosh's avatar However, a park with no rides and perfect customer service isn't going to draw very many people looking to ride. A park with lots of big rides and crap customer service will.

The point remains that the rides are the product. The park sells rides.

I agree, and that'll get people to the park once. Maybe twice. IMHO for many people the continual bad experiences will eventually outweigh the fun and you lose repeat customers, even with new rides.

You want to visit or work there?

Depends on how charming the ass is, I guess! ;)

mOOSH

(what's that behind me? Oh yeah, the line I crossed!)

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 9:02 PM
Kick The Sky's avatar I have to agree with Moosh on this one. I have a very awesome park an hour south of me that is "supposed" to have the best customer service in the Six Flags chain, but they have pretty much screwed me over one too many times that I will only visit once every couple years now. I used to be a passholder and go several times a year.

I'm not the only one, either. I've said this many times, and I will say it again. People here in Wisconsin are fed up with Great America. They can't afford the nickle and diming. They can't handle the long lines every time they visit. They can't handle the smokers in line. They can't handle the crappy service. Just about everyone I know has sworn off the park and will not return.

With money becoming more scarce and gas prices going through the roof, people are going to want to stretch their amusement dollars more. Things like good customer service could very well make the difference between a park that makes it and one that shutters it's doors for good.


Certain victory.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 9:22 PM
eightdotthree's avatar We aren't the only ones who make the decisions though. Think back to when you were a kid, how much did bad customer service matter? It didn't cause you were with your family and friends. That was my experience anyway.

That's different now that I am an adult.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 9:24 PM
I've sworn off Cedar Point, myself.

As a season pass holder from 2001 through 2007, and a frequent visitor in years previous since the mid 1980s I've given up on the place. I may visit once this year for Halloweekends just because I miss Magnum.

I've watched customer service suffer, prices soar, and operations decline more and more every year since sometime in the early 90s. I've also sold my few units of FUN. I've lost faith in Cedar Fair as a company and in Cedar Point as a great amusement park. Sure they have rides, but the whole experience has changed.

I'd rather go to Knoebels.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 9:25 PM
a_hoffman50's avatar Come to think of it, if the people in that video had an attitude and were cussing and swearing like that to the employee without cause, I can see where the crappy service would be justifiable. There is just no reason for all that.

In reality land, I believe that great customer service is the icing on the cake with many layers. If a person looks at a cake and it does not look appetizing, they may take a bite. Especially if the icing covers up some underlying flaws.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008 12:11 AM
LostKause's avatar I quit visiting SF parks also, but the latest TR's (like Gonch's, for example) have me reconsidering. It's difficult though because I have given them many chances in the past and they have failed miserably. I mean really, really failed. There is always a certain expectation I have going into a park and at the few SF parks I have visited (SFGAdv, SFA, SFO), that expectation has yet to be met. Some other parks have done just fine as far as that goes.

Bear makes a very good point. Why do the parks attendance remain flat after all of these years? Could bad service have something to do with it?


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Thursday, June 26, 2008 12:38 AM
^^^ I side w/Blue Side on Cedar Point - I also had a season pass for a couple of years and could no longer stand the total lack of customer respect on all levels, and watched in horror as the place became the SF of Lake Erie. Went last season for the first time in a very long time and was ever more scorned by their arrogant customer relations staff. Now with their auction of the real Geauga Lake, I've sworn off the place indefinately until they replace the top brass and get some soul back in their heartless, greedy boardroam.

SF is hopeless - it's like they go out of their way to ensure people have the most horrible experience possible and train their employees to be dispassionate on every level.

Good customer service DOES exist at parks - go to Santa Claus ! Also had a good customer service experience with the new mangagement at Clementon last weekend even though their food staff and operations are still horrible. Small parks rule !

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