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A tale of two tickets

I really wanted to go and see Katy B in concert. And so, as a subscriber to the Katy B mailing list, I was very excited to hear about a small London gig where we was going to preview her new album. I was even more excited to be quick off the mark enough to snag two tickets.

Weeks later, I get a text on my phone at 8.30am. “Royal Mail was unable to deliver your item,” it said. “See card left for details.”

Uh-oh. I hadn’t heard the doorbell, and there was no card. I logged into my Ticketmaster account, and realised I hadn’t changed my address to my new house since moving almost a year ago. It doesn’t confirm address when you buy tickets, so I hadn’t twigged.

I phone Ticketmaster. “We can’t reissue or refund the tickets. You’ll have to try Royal Mail,” they say.

I phone Royal Mail. “You’ll have to go to the sorting office with proof of address,” they say. I make it clear that it would be a two-hour round trip and I don’t have an up-to-date proof of address from a home I no longer live in. “Try,” they say.

I take the problem to Twitter. People get involved, offering helpful advice. Royal Mail and Ticketmaster get involved, disagreeing with each other on how I’m going to get my tickets.

At this point, my anger begins to peak at the ridiculous suggestion that in order to get into a gig in East London I’ll need a small piece of paper, which should be in West London. And to get that small piece of paper I’ll need to go to South London with two or three other small pieces of paper. And even then I might not be successful.

The day of the gig arrives. I am still ticketless and £50 out-of-pocket, vowing never to use Ticketmaster or Royal Mail again.

And then it hits me. I didn’t use small pieces of paper to buy the tickets (praise be). I used my American Express. So I tweet them, and explain. In less than five minutes, they email me. In less than 30 minutes, they have tracked my order. In less than 60 minutes, my + one and I are on the guest list for the Katy B concert. No small pieces of paper needed. Just my name.

American Express is one of those companies that always feels like a bit of an outsider. Some retailers don’t accept it, and it seems to constantly play third-fiddle to Visa and MasterCard. But, in cases like mine, it’s a critical part of an ecosystem of companies that have to work together to deliver a service.

In my story, two of those moving parts seized up. At one point they actually disagreed with each other on how to fix a customer problem, before decided that there was no solution. Not only did American Express respond quickly, it ignored the problem (I couldn’t get hold of some small pieces of paper) and suggested a new solution (sod the tickets, you’re on the guest list).

Sometimes, in the world of customer service, you need to rely on your partners to make sure things work. Can you rely on yours?