A Tangled Web We Weave

The inimitable Lisa Hirsch posted a fascinating article at The Iron Tongue of Midnight on 2/15/2012 that vents some frustration with her attempts to utilize subscriber benefits at the San Francisco Symphony. Hirsch takes the time to lay out what she perceives as a fine print laden subscriber benefit program.

Hirsch lays out the details with bullet point precision

I noticed that the ticket was in the Second Tier, then remembered a subscriber benefit from SFS that I hadn’t taken advantage of, a one-time opportunity to upgrade to a better section.

I called the Box Office and…[it] turns out that I didn’t remember or had never known the details of this offer.

  • You can only get the upgrade within the two hours before the program for which you want your ticket upgraded. The box office told me this is because “then they know what turn-ins there have been.”
  • You can only ask for the upgrade at the box office.
  • You’re supposed to produce a piece of paper about the offer, which was enclosed with your tickets.

Most folks have experienced the frustrations related to rebate offers that are too difficult to actually use and in today’s economic climate, putting similar programs into place as part of something like a subscriber benefits added value package, even inadvertently, could produce diminishing returns.

Hirsch has been diligently following through on these issues with the SF Symphony and it will be interesting to see what transpires so head over to her blog post and catch up on the entire to-do. In the meantime, I’m curious to hear from readers about your experiences related to taking advantage of subscriber benefits. Has anyone experienced something similar to what Hirsch describes or has it always been smooth sailing?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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0 thoughts on “A Tangled Web We Weave”

  1. I’ve had similar problems (to a lesser extent) with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Their print material offered a “gift card” which could be used either for parking or for items at the Symphony Store; however, it took me asking about it before it was included (in a supplemental mailing), and the card itself was not functional (as I discovered when trying to use it for a purchase at the Symphony Store). The cashier apologized and said they’d had “a lot of problems” with the cards and gave me another number to call; I haven’t yet followed up on that, since the first call went so well. (Ahem.)

  2. Hello MB,

    I’m Alesia Banks, Director of Customer Service and Season Tickets for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and would like to respond on behalf of the Orchestra.

    We have been experiencing technical concerns in the Symphony Store regarding the Gift Cards and the IT Department has been working diligently to rectify this issue. I know that this doesn’t excuse your experiences, nevertheless, I hope that you will allow me to show you that we can do this right by contacting me at alesia.banks@woodruffcenter.org. It will be my pleasure to assist with this matter, as well as do all that I can to ensure that your next trip to the Symphony Store will be as intended.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon!

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