Thursday, 2 August 2012

In the mad dash for profits, many people have lost their humanity

This is a review of our experience at the Arena.

My wife Susan and I attended an André Rieu concert on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at the Jobing .com arena in Glendale, AZ.

The concert was well attended. André Rieu and his orchestra performed magnificently. We enjoyed the performance very much.

However, the arena's concession charged outrageous prices, including $5.00 for a 20-ounce bottle of water! Neither Susan nor I had any desire to pay that much for a little bottle of water. Therefore, I told her that I'd leave the arena to purchase bottled water from one of the nearby restaurants. Great was my surprise when I saw a sign above each door to the arena that said, "Re-entry not permitted".

That left us with a grim choice: a) we could purchase water from the concession, b) we could be thirsty throughout the performance, c) we could drink from a water fountain in the arena. Susan drank from it and said the water tasted horribly, or d) we could leave, and forfeit our right to see the concert, that we paid nearly $300 to see. I had left my water bottle in the car, thinking I could return for it. We had brought no other refreshment with us.

I asked to speak with a manager about the no re-entry policy. Mr. Jim Foss, the Building Manager, explained to me the reasons for the Arena's policy:

1) To minimize or eliminate the arena's legal liability in the event a ticketholder leaves the arena and gets drunk or causes damage,

2) To prevent ticketholders from giving or selling tickets to people outside the Arena, that they purchased for their guests in attendance, and

3) To recoup the Arena's considerable operating costs, since the ticket revenue they receive is inadequate to cover such costs.

Furthermore, the Arena doesn't permit ticketholders to bring their own refreshments into the Arena. According to Mr. Foss, his company's policy is standard in the Arena industry. In response to my suggestion that ticketholders be required to show ID upon re-entering the arena, Mr. Foss said it'd be too burdensome for both the Arena and the patrons. Yet all guests, according to the Arena's website, "will go through magnetometer screenings and handbag inspections prior to entry".

I told Mr. Foss, emphatically, that it's unfair to penalize customers by forcing them to pay exorbitant prices for drinking water, which is necessary for life. He responded with cold indifference.  Since by then my throat was parched and I desperately needed a drink, I purchased a water bottle from the concession for $5.00.

After purchasing the water bottle, I related the incident to a few other customers. They didn't seem particularly concerned about it. A couple of women told me that they smuggled in water bottles in their handbags. One couple we met, just before the concert, did tell us that they were unhappy about having to pay the high concession prices. Yet, they said, it's that way whenever you go to a theatre, concert hall or stadium to see a performance or sporting event. You always have to pay top dollar for refreshments.

What has become of us? Why do we permit this kind of systematic insensitivity and abuse to continue? Why are we so apathetic? Is it because we're too preoccupied with survival to care about how badly others are treating us? Is it because we're numb to the abuse by now? Is it because we've been beaten down by a system in which only the financially successful can live comfortably and are treated with respect? Or is it because we're so hungry for entertainment that we'll forsake our own comfort to attend a performance?

Ask yourselves this question, please: Could we have had a President like George W. Bush, and a Vice President like Dick Cheney, if we weren't as blasé as we are as a culture?

The Jobing .com arena's policy is especially inappropriate considering the severe recession we're in; many people are suffering economically.

This is what Jobing .com Arena said on its website, under the category of "Guest Services", at the time we attended the concert:

"At Jobing .com Arena, it's our goal to create that first-time magic for everyone who comes into the building, time and time again. We strive to provide each and every guest with a memorable experience by greeting people with a smile, offering assistance and delivering exceptional customer service to make every guest feel like a VIP! Our friendly Guest Services Representatives can help you find your seats, answer questions and address any challenges that may come up during your visit to Jobing .com Arena. "  

The arena's ushers were friendly towards us, and did help us to find our seats. Unfortunately, the incident with the $5.00 water bottle and the Arena's misguided policy that prohibits people from leaving the arena, left a sour taste in my mouth for the Arena.

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