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Zoe Wanamaker In Passion Play


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#21 peggs

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 07:07 PM

View PostPharaoh, on 06 November 2012 - 05:23 PM, said:

I had the most ridiculous single seat issue when booking for The Audience through Delfont Mackintosh a couple of weeks back. There were 5 or so pairs of seats left n the stalls for the date I wanted, all top price, and given they were pairs, I couldn't book online since 1 seat would leave a single seat. Also, I wanted that specific date since it was the only matinee at the preview rate. So I thought I'd give them a ring, and they'd be able to override it. How wrong I was. Instead, I was told that I was being fussy by wanting to sit in the stalls and that I should get a seat at the back of the dress circle. Sorry- at £50 a pop, I don't want back of the dress when there are seats in row E stalls available at the same price.

I made the point that this policy was discriminating against single theatregoers. In response, the rude woman told me I should find someone to go with me, in a way which implied I was 'sad' for wanting to go on my own. She then made the point that it was the same as a group of 3 wanting to book for a show, but there being 2 seats left. That's clearly not the same: there there are not enough seats left, where in my instance, there are. They just wouldn't sell one to me.

Anyway, rant over. I booked in the end, as someone in my family said they'd quite like to see it too. But I was not impressed with Delfont's customer service.

I get why they don't like to leave single seats (in spite of the apparently overwhelming evidence that there are lots of single theatre goers) but surely they can't refuse to sell you a seat, how isn't that discrimination? As for telling you to find someone else to go with you. I guess they sell the seats so don't care but that's shoody behaviour.

#22 Beth

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 07:15 PM

View PostPharaoh, on 06 November 2012 - 05:23 PM, said:

I had the most ridiculous single seat issue when booking for The Audience through Delfont Mackintosh a couple of weeks back. There were 5 or so pairs of seats left n the stalls for the date I wanted, all top price, and given they were pairs, I couldn't book online since 1 seat would leave a single seat. Also, I wanted that specific date since it was the only matinee at the preview rate. So I thought I'd give them a ring, and they'd be able to override it. How wrong I was. Instead, I was told that I was being fussy by wanting to sit in the stalls and that I should get a seat at the back of the dress circle. Sorry- at £50 a pop, I don't want back of the dress when there are seats in row E stalls available at the same price.

I made the point that this policy was discriminating against single theatregoers. In response, the rude woman told me I should find someone to go with me, in a way which implied I was 'sad' for wanting to go on my own. She then made the point that it was the same as a group of 3 wanting to book for a show, but there being 2 seats left. That's clearly not the same: there there are not enough seats left, where in my instance, there are. They just wouldn't sell one to me.

Anyway, rant over. I booked in the end, as someone in my family said they'd quite like to see it too. But I was not impressed with Delfont's customer service.

Ouch!  That's just... horrible!  I'm glad to say ATG, the Warwick Arts Centre and others have all been really great with me whenever I've phoned for just one of a pair of seats.  Makes me want to boycott the Delfont group!

#23 DanielWhit

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 07:33 PM

View PostBeth, on 06 November 2012 - 06:14 PM, said:

It was me!  You can if you book by phone - they never seem to mind.  I was at the theatre the other day and the woman next to me thanked me for buying my seat (which I did by phone), because it left hers as a single ticket that she was then able to buy online!

Ta :) I wonder how it works with single tickets in a price range being left next to tickets in a different price range.. May have to do some research when I have nothing better to do sometime!

And Beth, I'll see you in June (if either of us remember this exchange!).

#24 fringefan

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 07:56 PM

Wow, I thought I was the only person to have encountered the single seat issue, since no-one else had mentioned it, but it seems it is a common bugbear.  I was serious when I mentioned the word "discrimination", even though I did so in a joking way, and I honestly think that sort of thing must be illegal nowadays - how dare they even admit to such a policy?

I had the same problem trying to book to see the RSC's Julius Caesar back in the summer.  I had a very good deal and when I hit the glitch online, rang the Box Office, confidently expecting them to override it, only to be told they couldn't.  Must have been Delfont Mackintosh again.  They tried to blame it on the RSC, but when I rang the RSC they denied responsibility, so definitely some buck-passing or dissembling going on there. Fortunately for me, the RSC Box Office manager kindly fixed it for me, though by the time she had done so, I had to accept being told that the very good dress circle seat of my choice had gone - I had no way of knowing whether this was true - and that the theatre had selected another for me.  In a way I felt pathetic for making such a fuss, but why should I have to?  And can theatres really afford to turn away business in this way, and so rudely?  Anyone any ideas on how to get DF and other offenders to shape up?  Probably needs a Twitter backlash...

#25 Titan

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 09:38 PM

im genuinly surprised as ive always had the best customer service from Delfont

#26 Matthew Winn

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 09:41 PM

A few years ago, at another time when the single seat issue was a hot topic, I wrote and ran a simulation to find out whether there was any truth to the unsupported assertions made by the theatres that allowing single seats to be left at the end of the row had an effect on sales. I ran the simulation for a selection of seating layouts and a variety of distributions of party sizes and the conclusions were as follows:

(1) Unless the show averages sales of around three or four seats less than capacity, whether single seats can be left makes no difference to sales. For example, if the theatre has 1000 seats it needs to be at an average of around 99.7% for there to be any effect on sales at all. (What this means in real terms is that all any policy does is change the order in which seats are allocated. The number of seats sold is unaffected.)

(2) Although it makes no difference to the theatre, it does make a difference to the customer. A restrictive policy can result in rows filling later, so unless the show is selling out people end up sitting further from the stage if booking is restricted. (In other words, the empty seats tend towards the back with one strategy and towards the sides with the other. But the effect is small.)

(3) Even at the ~99.7% level, there's only an effect on sales with a small number of performances. With more than a handful of performances there's no effect at all. (The reason for this is that most people can choose a different date if they can't get a seat for any particular performance, increasing the pool of available seats.)

(4) All the above are based on averaging multiple trials. The actual outcome in any particular case is critically dependent on the order in which people book tickets. If you don't know in advance the exact sequence of party sizes you can't determine what will happen until it has happened.

tl;dr version: If anyone tells you they "can't sell single seats at the end of a row" they're either making it up or lying.
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#27 Honoured Guest

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 11:09 PM

Many booking systems don't permit bookings which leave one or more single seats unsold within a row. If they did, many selfish people would routinely leave a single seat free so that, if it remains unsold, they can put their coats on it or shuffle on to it if a particularly obstructive or annoying person is seated in front of them. If everyone acted like that, then there would be far too many single seats left and couples and groups would be spread towards the extremes. Some people book from the centre of a row and others book from the side aisle so box office discretion is desirable when a customer wishes to book seats between these two blocks whiich will leave one remaining single seat in the entire half-row.

Once, on a train that was almost full, I saw someone place their luggage on their reserved seat and sit on the adjacent unreserved seat. When, mid-journey, a new passenger boarded and politely asked if he could sit on the seat with the bags on, he was told with complete righteousness that he couldn't sit there because the seat was reserved!

I used to choose to sit one seat in from the centre aisle in the cinema, because that's my ideal viewing position, until one occasion when an unattractive and unwelcome fellow audience member misinterpreted this as an invitation to casual sex.

#28 Lynette

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 11:17 PM

Recently I tried to book an available seat next to two seats I already had. My daughter wanted to join us and I was delighted to see that there was a seat next to ours. The system refused so I bought a seat further along towards the centre of the row. Bonkers.

It was Chorus of Disapproval

#29 fringefan

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 04:37 AM

Matthew Winn's research sounds very interesting and pertinent - but did you share it with any theatres, MW?

HG also makes a fair point about the booking of single seats BUT what about those of us who are, or attend the theatre as singles and who genuinely need and want just the one seat?  Why should we be stigmatised and suffer discrimination in this way?  And if box offices really did have discretion, fine, but then in that case the online booking systems should say "for single seats ring the box office to book" AND said box office should then be both willing and able to do this.  Though I still think it shouldn't be necessary - and why would any theatre prefer to use a more expensive booking system?

#30 Matthew Winn

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 06:13 AM

View PostHonoured Guest, on 06 November 2012 - 11:09 PM, said:

Many booking systems don't permit bookings which leave one or more single seats unsold within a row. If they did, many selfish people would routinely leave a single seat free so that, if it remains unsold, they can put their coats on it or shuffle on to it if a particularly obstructive or annoying person is seated in front of them.

That's only a problem if everyone can choose any seat they like. All you need to do to prevent that is add a restriction to say that in any run of, say, eight empty seats or fewer you can't break the run: you have to fill it in from one end or the other. This allows people to sit wherever they want to within three or four seats but prevents fragmentation.
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