Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Saving Seats at Theatres

As I type this I'm in physical pain after seeing Capitalism: A Love Story. No, the movie itself was actually pretty good. Basically what happened was my friend and I went in 45 minutes before the sneak preview was supposed to start. The theatre was already filling up fast, but two or three people near the back had saved around 8-10 seats each, including their own. No I'm not exaggerating. Consequently I had to settle for a seat where my bneck was in pain much of the time.

The pain got me thinking: snagging four seats is fine, but with eight seats the people on the far side are simply not going to be able to have a meaningful interaction with one another anyway. So why not let the people who showed up on time have some of the seats and have the latecomers deal with the lesser seats? Again, saving a few people, not a problem, but don't snag nearly the entire row.

My proposal for big ticket movies: you can save up to four seats including your own, no more. This rule can be waved for movies that have been out a while, but four seats is the equivalent of two free passholders, and again that's probably the upper limit of where the people on the far sides can whisper without disturbig the other guests. If space is at a premium the people who arrived at a decent hour should not be penalized for not being part of a particular group and eight seats is simply too many.

Or maybe I'm just grouchy because of the pain in the back of the neck.

What do people think of a seat-saving maximum for busy films? If you like this idea, how should this be enforced?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Greyhound and Me

In the past I've shied away from personal experiences because I'm in the middle of a work crisis and don't want the blog to be too whiney. But I just had an experience with Greyhound that I figured if I post about, it can save other people some time and grief.

Greyhound currently offers advance purchases for tickets even for routes that didn't used to have them. Last night I needed to make a purchase or miss the cut-off for the 14-day cut-off. Unfortunately, I failed to read in advance for a Will Call ticket and didn't realize that meant the buyer will pick up the ticket in person (neither "will" nor "call" screamed out "pick up in person" to me. So I went with the Mail option and missed the fact that that costs $7.

That said, soon after I bought the ticket I realized my mistake, so I found a form on the Greyhound site and filled it in, since you can't reply to the itinerary e-mail.

I hadn't heard back so I tried two general Greyhound Canada numbers, both of which had the same options, none of which involved dealing with ticket matters. i tried calling the local downtown office but only got an answering machine.

Since the ticket was to be mailed to me, I tried calling the courier office. They gave me an extension to try for one of the numbers I previously tried.

That extension insisted the itinerary number didn't exist and told me I'd have to contact Gryhound through the wesbite. When I told him i hadn't found any such contact info (I had pretty much written off the online form route I had tried the night before at this point), he gave me a 1-800 number.

After being put on hold for a few minutes, I got someone who told me that this wasn't the customer service number. They gave me a new number to try but tried putting me through first. Thankfully, since the new number wasn't a 1-800 nor 1-888 number, the call went through. After being put on hold a few minutes, they did manage to locate my itinerary number, but confirmed my fears that the ticket had been mailing. My online form attempt the night before hadn't been checked before the mailing.

So to save everyone a bit of hassle, here are some tips for dealing with Greyhound. 1> No matter how sleepy you are, make sure you have all the pricing info handy before ordering. 2> The name notwithstanding, "Will Call' is probably the option you want if you don't want to nullify most of the savings offered by advance purchase. 3>Avoid purchasing after hours where possible in case you do need to speak to a series of people. And finally, if you do get in a jam, 4> The customer service number for Greyhound is 214-849-8966. Your best best is to let the computer go through the options a couple times, let yourself get put on hold, then wait for a human. Pressing any buttons will just give you more buttons to press. Note that I ordered the ticket through but 214 is a Texas area code, so this number should work for both Greyhound Canada and Greyhound US. If your local Greyhound office is pretty reliable you might want to try them first to avoid being put on hold, but then try that number.