Let’s Go Out to the Movies: Displeased Customer Gets R-Rated Response from VP

If you’re like me, you pretty much prefer watching Netflix films on your couch versus actually putting on pants and going to a movie theater. But when you go, there’s a certain expectation of customer service, especially considering the prices of tickets these days. So imagine the shock of one Minnesota woman who wrote a letter to theater ownership, and got a less-than-cordial response from a VP. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune reports:

The first problem, she said, was that the theater didn’t accept debit or credit cards. They had brought cash for popcorn and sodas, but not enough to buy tickets. The lobby’s ATM was out of cash, so their friends covered them by writing a check.

That was just the beginning.

"I would say within the first five or 10 minutes, a woman came into the theater and announced that eight people were in there who weren’t supposed to be in there," she said. For about 20 minutes, she said, staff members flashed their lights, checking ticket stubs and being a distraction. "Once I got back into the movie, it was great," Kohl-Leaf said, but the first part of the night out had been marred.

Once home, she decided to e-mail the theater management to complain. Her note went to Evergreen Entertainment LLC of New Brighton, owners of St. Croix Falls Cinema 8 and five movie complexes in Minnesota.

"I did not pay 18.00 to have a distracted experience," she wrote. " … I would rather drive to White Bear Lake, where they obviously know how to run a theater than have this experience again." The e-mailed response that greeted her the next morning left her stunned.

"Drive to White Bear Lake and also go [expletive] yourself," began the reply from Steve Payne, Evergreen’s vice president. "If you don’t have money for entertainment, get a better job, and don’t pay for everything on your credit or check card." It also included a couple more expletives before ending.

"I was surprised — I honestly didn’t think it was the vice president who sent it," said Kohl-Leaf. She showed it to her friend, "and we were just like, ‘What?’ … I’ve worked in retail, and I would never think to say something like that, or write it or anything."

Payne later sent a second, less-heated, message: "As vice president I should never have reacted that way, no matter how I felt about your e-mail."

Ya think? Trust me, when I worked as an editor of a community newspaper, I took several phone calls laden with vitriol, and in some cases that feeling was mutual. But dang. Let’s all let this serve as a reminder to take a breath before dealing with unhappy customers and clients. As with most things in life, firing back with emotion before thinking it through just creates more problems for yourself and your business.