Wednesday, July 10, 2013

To Buy a Ticket

In two days I'm going to see Pacific Rim, a movie I've talked up a little bit here at Ancient Logic. I'd see it anyway, but ever since the first trailer depicting epic robotic/kaiju mayhem showed up a few months ago, it's been an article of faith that I'd see the thing with as many of my friends together as possible. Call it a pre-planned field trip.

Now a few days ago, one of my friends, currently trapped in the internet bereft wilderness of Maine, asked me to get a ticket for him. No problem. This friend has gone to bat for me numerous times and, in any case, it's a movie ticket - not a big deal.

Or so I thought. What follows is the saga of buying a ticket for a movie that hasn't opened yet at the Jordan's IMAX theater over the phone.

First off, I myself was on a trip this weekend, having gone back home to Upstate NY for a few days to see my brother. Not a big deal, except my grandparents' ranch (and yes, that's what we call it) is sheltered snuggly in a deep valley on the border between New York and Pennsylvania. Pure cell tower dead-zone and I had to head up to Corning before I got more than one bar on 1G. Still, I said I was going to pick up a ticket, and pick up a ticket I would.

Figuring it would take a me few minutes at most to make the transaction, we stop at Wegmans (single greatest contribution of Upstate NY to world civilization IMHO) and over a cup of coffee I open up Fandango and look for Jordan's furniture. Oh wait, you can't buy tickets for Jordan Furniture through Fandango and in any case, this movie hasn't opened yet so it's not even listed.

No worries, I press the link to the telephone number, deciding I'll just do it over the phone. If you've ever called Jordan's phone number you know that it is heavily automated. Do you want to buy furniture? Press 1. Do you want to confirm a delivery? Press 2. Do you want to hear about the new sofas we are currently showing in our main display area? Press 5. And on and on until you get whichever number takes you to the theaters. And then do you want to go to the number for IMAX or MOM? Imax? Well, do you mean Natick or Reading? Do you want to hear about the showings today? Press 1. Do you want to buy tickets for school groups or special events? Press 2. Would you like to go back to the Jordan's Furniture sales department? Press 5. Would you like to buy an individual ticket for a movie using our automated ticket purchasing system Teletix (I can't remember what it's actually called)? Press 8.

So I press 8 and maybe because I was calling from another state or maybe because the system sensed I wanted the ticket too much, the call gets dropped from their end.

Having had enough with Jordan's automated phone tree (and really I'm sparing you a great deal of description already) I call a random number from the first option to get someone with a pulse. "Hello, financing department for Jordan's Furniture." "Oh, sorry, I pressed the wrong number, would you mind transferring me to the IMAX ticket office?" I feel enormously pleased with myself for short-circuiting Jordan's precious phone service in this way.

"Sure, please hold."

Another person picks up the phone and I quickly tell them that I was just dumped out of the automated ticket purchasing system and would it be possible to just buy the ticket from them. "Sure, no problem," the person says and then transfers me back to Teletix. I hang up and fume for a minute or two.

I call again. This time I tell them that I am having a problem with the automated service, maybe because I'm calling out of state. "Could I please just purchase the ticket from you?"

"I'm sorry, sir. We can't handle credit card information over the phone. You can either go online or I could transfer you to Teletix, our automated..."

I hang up.

Sensing my mounting frustration, my brother suggests I just go directly to the website. We go on his tablet and find that sure enough, future sales for tickets for Pacific Rim are clearly marked and we start going through the process of entering ticket numbers, dates, credit card information. I start to feel really foolish that I hadn't just done this in the first place. Then we get to the screen where we have to prove we are a human and suddenly my brother's tablet can't handle the load. It starts scrolling to the top of the screen, refusing to display a keyboard, and just generally pitching a fit.

"Could we just go to a library and use a desktop?" I wonder.

"Maybe you're being too impatient," my brother says. "Just give the phone system another try. Don't try to rush the system."

I nod, listening to his advice, admitting to myself that I had been a little preemptive with the automated service. I hadn't even really listened to all of the options. I had, in fact, been a little rude to Teletix.

I breathe out slowly, punch in the number to Jordan's Furniture and mentally will myself into serenity, calmly letting it enumerate each of my many, many options before I carefully selected the correct number. And it works. I'm making progress through Teletix. Teletix begins to make sense, as if intuiting that I am now willing to meet it halfway. It guides me to July 12th, and to the correct time, and then it begins to ask what sort of ticket I'd like.

"If you want to purchase a $10.50 ticket for a child," Teletix intones. "Press one. Your credit card will be charged a $2.50 convenience fee, bringing your entire bill up to $13.00."

It's not going to read out the whole thing for each option is it?

"If you want," it continues and maybe it's my own impatience at this point, but Teletix seems to falter here, its monotone slowing down, pauses lengthening.


"To purchase."

I can't believe this, just tell me what to press for 'adult.'

"An eleven."

Just say two for adult.


Two for adult.

"And fifty"

I know it's two. Say two.


Two for adult.

"Ticket for-"

I jab the number two on my phone.

"-Senior: press Two."

Epilogue: Eventually I did buy a ticket for my friend to Pacific Rim and patience was, ultimately, the solution. After waiting a few hours, a more sympathetic person answered the phone and smoothly punched in my credit card number without complaint.

Also, I'm really excited to see Pacific Rim.

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