CUSTOMER DON'T CARE

In most service industries around the civilised world these days, there is a policy known as Customer Care. It is common to companies as diverse as retail outlets and stores right through to public service organisations such as Local Authorities and Government departments. It is usually based on the premise that the customer deserves the best service possible, not entirely that the customer is always right, but there may be a chance that if we treat them right they may come back again.

It appears that such a policy is missing presumed never introduced at Tottenham Hotspur plc. I think this for a number of reasons. For example, the season ticket fiasco, which followed the Worthington Cup Final ticket fiasco, which follows problems getting tickets for away games, which follows difficulty getting information out of the Ticket Office at the best of times. The problems with the new superstore and the other shop being closed once the new one had opened. The appearance that the plc is intent on maximising profits when to all intents and purposes it goes out of itís way to NOT make money. Elsewhere in this issue, you will hear the opinions of contributors who have had problems with Spurs in one way or another and anyone you speak to has a similar tale to tell. So just why is it so bad here ??

The season ticket problem didnít affect me. Why I should be one of the lucky ones, I have no idea, but I do know from collecting my voucher book from the Ticket Office (mistakenly going down on the day the new Superstore opened and spending half an hour (yes, I know I was lucky only being there for 30 mins.) trying to get to the counter, while having to hear the stories of other fans trying to resolve the cock-ups made by the club. I know there was a bloke from Oxford who was trying to get his season ticket near his mate and was told he would have to come back some other time. I know that two brothers had wanted their season tickets together with a friend and the club had managed to put two together and one a few rows apart (not an unfamiliar story I gather from the amount of people who have told me so) and had to travel to the Ticket Office to sort it out, after paying for the special delivery postal service. There were other people who were waiting for their season ticket to arrive after the Everton match, when the cash had been taken from their bank account in June. Others who spent six hours at the Ticket Office trying to get their season ticket book before the Newcastle game. People having to phone and be put on hold at great expense to try and get some information about where in the world their season ticket might actually be. There are 36,000 fans in the stadium - each one has a story.

Where else would you expect to spend in the region of between £400 and £700 and be treated in such a fashion ?? Is it because they know that the ďbrand loyaltyĒ in football is unlike any other business and that we will not change our allegiance to Arsenal just because Tottenham treat us badly ?? Is it that they are skimping on the resources necessary to operate a business in an efficient and effective manner ?? Is it that they just donít care ?? At the AGM this year, the annual question about the Ticket Office was raised and the response from Mr. Sugar was that there were logistical problems, which were to be constantly reviewed. He also said the new manageress had been in post for six months and they would give her a full season to fully assess how she had done. He also made some reference in the vein of ďshe couldnít do a worse job than had gone beforeĒ. He also commented that they were unable to handle the demand (this was before the season tickets were available for renewal) and that extra staff would be drafted in when required. Now I have heard that a number of staff left the Ticket Office at the end of last season and that a new (telephone) handling system was introduced and a new company took over the Members booking line, but there have been problems with both of these facilities. As for the replacement of staff, I have experienced their lack of interest, but friends have told me that somtimes they get no more than a grunt from them when asked a question. this may be the sort of thing you could expect at Highbury, but it is not good enough at White Hart Lane.

When the statement hit the Evening Standard about the clubs unreserved apology for the problem as with season tickets, it appeared that the world and his wife were to blame. It was the new system in place this summer that went wrong; it was the unprecedented demand for season tickets (i.e. the fans fault for wanting to watch Tottenham all season); it was the Royal Mail for failing to deliver the tickets which were sent out in good time; It was the printers who delivered the tickets later than expected, so they couldnít be sent out in time; I even heard that it was said a bag of season tickets were stolen and that was why they werenít received. Oh, yeah, there was also the sniper on the grassy knoll who was part of a conspiracy to prevent Spurs fans seeing their favourite team in action. Which of these excuses are valid and which arenít are a matter of conjecture, because getting information out of the club as to what exactly is going on is harder than getting into Fort Knox. And even if the statement contained any reasonable answers, who amongst us who have suffered at the hands of THFC plc would be willing to take them at face value ??

We are not asking for the wheel to be re-invented, but why not go somewhere that has an excellent record of dealing with ticket sales and look around to see how they manage to cope with it. Ask pertinent questions, take notes, ask for contacts, imagine how aspects of their operation could improve ours. It is not that hard is it ??

And will there be any compensation offered for those who missed goals, matches or hours of their leisure time trying to get what was rightfully theirs ?? Answer to this question on a postcard please using a word containing no more than two letters probably.

But it is not just the Ticket Office that seems to throw a bored look in our direction. The new club shop seemed to run out of particular lines of merchandise very quickly, with racks empty of all the commonly available sizes. With adidas as our kit and leisurewear suppliers, I thought we may be in for a reasonably secure time when going into the Spurs Shop, but no. Even before the season had begun there were signs that not a lot had changed. Not just the size problem (although that matters !!), but the uncaring comments received from the staff when asked if supplies will be received soon. The actual quality of the shirts are also a concern as one friend of mine had to take the home shirt back after three occasions it had been worn as itís stitching was coming apart at the seams. Well, if adidas made kit that does that, what can we expect over the next three years of the contract ?? I must add that the kit was exchanged without any quibbles, but that is not the point, is it ?? The Superstore does seem to have taken on the look of a Next, but without the goods to restock the shelves. Going to Preston for the Coca-Cola Cup tie a few years ago now, we arrived early and with little else to do, went into their club shop, which looked very similar to our new outlet. That was a Third Division club being three years ahead of us !! The new store was being refurbished during the summer and the Paxton shop was open to cope with sales during this time. Once the Superstore opened, the other shop was closed during the week until the season started. I have also heard from fans that the shops do not put the names on the back of shirts on matchdays. Well, when fans travel a long distance to watch a game, they are probably not going to stop over until the Monday so they can have their favourite playerís named welded to the back of the shirt they bought two days earlier. The club seem to go out of their way to make it hard to take as much money as they are able.

Old shop, new shop. Same old problems.

On a separate note, I was intending taking my son on a tour around the Stadium as advertised in the Club Handbook. Having rung the number at the end of August, my better half was told that they werenít doing the tours at the moment, but if we rang back in mid-September, they might be running them then. Does anyone at Tottenham have children ?? Donít they know that they go back to school at the beginning of September ?? Whatever reason they had for not undertaking the tours at that time (last season it was the refurbishment of the corporate entertainment lounges), couldnít it have been done at the end of the season, before the schools broke up or after the first week of September when the demand for tours would be slightly less ?? It is only a small thing, but it is yet another that shows that the club do not seem to plan anything in advance with the fans in mind. Iíve been told that the tour is now not as all-encompassing as in previous years and half of it is taken up by watching a video, but even so, my son would have loved to go around the ground to see what happens behind the scenesĒ. Now that the tour is a money making venture, why not try to maximise itís earning potential ??

There are probably other things that I could have gone on about, but it does seem like Iím having one long moan about the club, but it is not without reason. Having got rid of Edward Freedman (a lifelong Spurs fan and former manager of the Spurs Shop), he now runs the highly profitable Manchester United Megastore and their other merchandising outlets. Fair enough, at the time there were other things to concentrate on, but he wanted to talk to Tottenham after he left to tell them what was happening, but they didnít want to know. Now, it is a little late and the club are light years behind what Man. U are earning. They may never catch up, but they might if we start treating the customers with the attitude that they deserve.

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