Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Unclear on the Concept

There is a wonderful theatre in the town just west of where I live, which is now used to house all kinds of musical events. I heard Judy Collins sing in this venue several years ago; this was my first experience in the Campbell Heritage Theatre.

The Heritage Theatre used to be the auditorium of a local high school back in the late 1930s. The school was demolished eventually, and a park now graces the site, but the city never tore down the theatre. The theatre sat vacant for years and years...no one wanted to take on the expense of not only refurbishing the theatre, but also paying for a costly earthquake retrofit. Eventually some community members who were interested in preserving local history raised several million dollars needed to preserve and upgrade the structure.

The refurbished structure re-opened in 2004, and it is a delight. While advances in modern technology have been added to make it a workable venue for the 21st century, it has thoroughly retained its 1940s style.

Later this month, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, an all-male a capella chorus from South Africa, will be performing in the Heritage Theater. As someone who is quite fond of World Music, I decided to attend the performance. Which meant I had to buy tickets. No problem - I could easily buy them online at the theatre's website.

Right up front the website tells you that there are FIVE (not two, but FIVE) ways to purchase tickets. Online, in-person at the box office, by phone, by fax and last but not least, by postal delivery. (Does anyone even use fax machines these days?)

I checked out their online system. It was easy enough to choose individual seats (click-click-click and done)...until I got to the checkout line and realized they were charging me $5 per TICKET to use the online system. In person, or over the phone - no charge. But it cost $5 extra to buy EACH ticket online.

I don't get it. Shouldn't we be ENCOURAGING people to buy things online, to reduce the cost of paying someone to sit at the box office? Perhaps volunteers are sitting at the box office, and the organization has to pay someone to process the online credit cards. Five dollars per credit card order I can understand, but $5 per ticket is a bit steep.

So guess who is going to be driving over to Campbell to visit the box office tomorrow and save herself $30 in "fees"?

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