Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why take responsibility when I can blame someone else?

A friend alerted me to a blog post on the L.A. Times website called "Disneyland passholders: Watch out for birthday blackout dates". The link pops up the blog post now, but I'm not sure if sometime in the future, it will require that you register first.

The blog post is so stupid that I don't even know where to begin. "You better look out for those blackout dates!" Ummm, yeah, if you have any level of AP other than premium, you probably pay fairly careful attention to when your blackout dates are. The entire blog post is written from the implication that only one level of AP is offered. Some people may not know that there are different levels of AP that allow different kinds of access.

Obviously, for the average Disneyland annual passholder who visits the park on regular basis, the free-on-your-birthday deal isn't much of perk.
So "average" is supposed to equate to "premium annual passholder"? Because not all AP holders can visit year-round. And for those who don't have access every day of the year, access on your birthday if you can't get in otherwise is just as good as for anyone else who doesn't have an AP.

So the Anaheim theme park offers a free $69 gift card (the standard price of admission) to their most loyal customers.
That would be true - but only if you equate "most loyal customers" to "premium annual passholders".

"So, just because my birthday falls on a blackout day, I don't get the gift card?" said Nancy, on the verge of tears. "That's unfair."
So is this for dramatic effect? Because I have to say that I'd be very surprised if a woman could be reduced to the verge of tears because she isn't getting a gift card BECAUSE SHE ISN'T ELIGIBLE. "Unfair". Really? What does fair or unfair have to do with it? She and her blogger husband didn't bother to read all the terms and conditions of the offer. They obviously must have seen more than just the "free on your birthday" commercials, because those commercials say nothing about what happens if you already have admission on that day. So someone must have either been told something by someone else, or someone did a cursory look at Disneyland's website, but they decided to only pay attention to the "I get free money on my birthday!" aspect rather than actually paying attention to the terms of the promotion itself.

The offer is getting into Disneyland free for your birthday. As a non-premium AP holder, she did not already have admission into the park on her birthday. So, that's what was being offered to her - admission on her birthday, same as anyone else. For a premium annual passholder (or other qualifying admission media holder), yeah, free admission on your birthday is literally worthless because it's not giving you anything you don't already have - which is why they have the alternate gifts, one of which is the gift card.

So if someone says "So, just because my birthday falls on a day when I don't have admission into the park, I don’t get the gift card? That's unfair", would that fly too? Should Disney then fork over $69 in that case as well? Because that statement applies exactly to the situation of the writer's wife. If random person shows up at the resort with no admission media, should they be allowed to demand a $69 gift card just because it's their birthday? That person wouldn't be doing anything different than what was depicted in the blog post.

Or maybe you have to prove that you're a loyal Disney customer. OK, how about someone who has the full WDW AP - that should be enough credential to be deemed a loyal customer, right? If they show up at Disneyland and demand $69 for their birthday, should they get it? No. Because they don't qualify under the terms of the promotion.

with Nancy’s birthday on the verge of being ruined
I put the blame for that solely on the blogger and/or the wife, whoever it was that didn't bother to actually learn the rules of the promotion.

Disneyland officials, contacted for a response, offered apologies but stuck by the company policy: "Our policy for Annual Passholders regarding Free On Your Birthday and blackout dates is clearly stated in Annual Passholder publications and on our website. It is unfortunate that the guest was not aware of the policy and we apologize that she was disappointed."
And yes, the rules are fully on the site. The blogger publishes this response, but then takes ZERO responsibility for the fact that neither he nor his wife knew the actual terms of the promotion. He could have ended with, "Well, our day didn't go as we had planned, so I thought I'd warn other people to make sure to pay attention to their blackout days. If we'd done the same, we wouldn't have encountered the problem we did." That would have at least been taking some responsibility for what happened. But, oh no, can't possibly do that. It's ALL Disney's fault!

And THEN, the blogger has the *nerve* to link to the birthday thread on MousePad, the discussion section of a Disney-related website, saying this similiar situation has happened to a lot of other people. OK, I'm am active member on that board, and I've been reading that thread from the beginning, and maybe I'm just forgetting, but I don't recall ANYONE saying they went on their birthday, which was a blackout day, and they didn't get a gift card and had their day totally ruined. Furthermore, if the blogger knew enough to link to the thread, he could have known enough to actually READ the thread, where we've been talking FOR MONTHS about blackout days and how you can get what gift for your birthday under what circumstances.

So, how did the blogger know about the existence of that particular birthday thread? Because he is registered on the discussion board website, though he has only bothered to post five things, all of which were simply to pimp articles that he'd written for the L.A. Times website. If he'd actually have bothered to be a part of the community, or at the VERY LEAST, bothered to mine the wealth of information that is put forth on the discussion boards, he wouldn't have gone to Disneyland completely uninformed.

Oh, and then look, at the end of the blog post, he does say blackout days vary depending on the kind of AP you have. Duh.

However, I will say that I'm laughing hysterically at the comments posted in response to that blog. Most people seem to be saying the same thing I'm saying - it's your own fault for not paying attention.

Here's one person's comment which I heartily agree with:
And if you are the theme park reporter and you don't understand the "free on your birthday" promotion, you are not doing your job.

And then, lo and behold, Mr. Blogger aka Brady MacDonald, actually posted some comments himself in response to the comments others had posted.

Here's an interesting comment from Mr. Blogger:
I like the $69 consolation prize better than getting into the park for free. IMO, Disneyland is being surprisingly generous, whether they let me into the park for free, give me $29 gift card or a $69 gift card. Yet, I still feel Nancy was gypped. And I am acting childish and entitled. I'm not proud of it. But it's true.
It's not a "pick and choose which one you want out of everything we're offering" promotion. If you're eligible for the free admission, you get that. If you don't need that, you can have something else. Heck, the way he says it, any random person should be able to just go to the park on their birthday and demand $69 since that would be much better than just being able to get in for free. And he admits that it's a good promotion, no matter what, and yet, somehow, his wife was still wronged. Give me a foxtrotting break.

Someone mentioned that if they had premium APs, his wife would have gotten her gift card no problem, to which he commented:
We specifically purchase the Deluxe passes in order to avoid the park on the busiest blackout days. We went to the park on Nancy's birthday only to pick up the gift card. I never checked the blackout dates because we had no plans to go into the park. That was my mistake.
So, you're all set to go get the perq - of something you don't want to purchase. He went as far as to pay attention that if you have an AP, an alternate birthday gift could be available, but he didn't go the extra step to read ALL OF THE RULES? I'm wondering where they parked. Because with deluxe passes on a blackout day, they would have had to pay for parking in the regular Disneyland parking structure. That would have been the first clue about it being a blackout day. If they parked in the Downtown Disney parking lot, then the issue of an AP wouldn't have come up.

Quite a number of people on the blog post comment section as well as discussion boards have pointed out the idiocy of his wife being close to tears because Disney wouldn't give her $69. His response:
I hate to see my wife cry. Especially on her birthday.
Awww, nice play for sympathy. But as far as I'm concerned, he should feel like a heel for being the one responsible for making his wife cry on her birthday, since it was his own stupidity that led to her being so terribly disappointed and traumatized at not getting $69 from Disney.

But I do like his admission that he's acting childish and entitled. However, it would have been nice if he'd admitted how much at fault he (and possibly his wife) were in the blog post proper, rather than just somewhere buried in the comments. I'm thinking he wasn't expecting the backlash he got, that he figured everyone would jump on his "woe is me, Disney is evil and mean" bandwagon. Bet he's surprised that there are so many people who saw right through him.

So I posted most of the above to the two Disney-related discussion boards that I participate on. Some of the above is only on this blog because they could potentially violate the rules set up on those boards. But here, I set the rules, and I can say what I want. And then, someone who also participates on both boards (who I shall refer to as Mr. Cooper) came to Mr. Blogger's defense by pointing out this and that wrong with Disney, most of which had nothing to do with the point of Mr. Blogger's post anyway. But hey, as usual, let's deflect to try to bash Disney! As far as I'm concerned, Mr. Cooper is a troll, and I've thought that for a long time. He's just better at it than most amateur trolls. He's like that when it comes to Disney, and he's like that when it comes to particular political issues. He doesn't actually engage in discussion, exchanging viewpoints and discourse. No, that would be too hard. He just posts inflammatory sound bites, a kind of drive-by posting.

But in this case, in responding to his posts, I managed to get information from Mr. Cooper that I did not expect. I figured he was defending the blog post because he normally likes to bash Disney anyway. But, in this case, he had more reason to swoop in defense of the blog post. He volunteered that the blogger had sent him a draft of the blog post to review, supposedly for "factual information", whatever that means. Given all the problems with the post itself, and the misinformation by omission, I then understood even better why he felt the need to defend it, no matter how stupid the blog post was.

If I was in that position, I suppose I'd probably feel the need to try to defend it too. But then, I can't imagine that I'd ever be friends enough in the first place with someone who'd post that kind of childish and entitled rant. And if by some warp in the space/time continuum that it actually happened, I probably couldn't do much more than respond that I thought the blog post was completely ridiculous and made the blogger and his wife look like complete idiots, and that there was nothing I could do to help them and wanted no involvement with it.

Mr. Cooper went on to question what the description of "valid" is with regard to the AP that would be needed to get the alternate gifts. Hmmm, maybe I should have asked him what he thought the definition of "is" is. My response was that it doesn't matter what my description, his description, or anyone else's description of "valid" AP means. It matters what Disney means by that. If I saw that, even though I have a premium AP, I'd check to make sure I knew what they mean by "valid".

Mr. Cooper then went on this rant about how there's no information about the birthday promotion posted at the main entrance plaza or inside the park (to which someone correctly pointed out what the point would be of having the information posted INSIDE the park since you'd really need to know about the promotion before going into the park), and how Disney is almost keeping it a secret by not having any information there about the birthday promotion. Yeah, big secret, given the billboards plastered everywhere and all the other information available everywhere about the birthday promotion.

He wanted posters and flyers at each ticket booth, with all the information, including fine print (which, I guess, means the basic rules of the promotion itself) of the free on your birthday offer.

Here was my response:
And how many languages do you think that should be in? And you don't think that many people waiting in line who don't have a birthday won't take a lot of time quizzing each ticket seller about the program, thereby making the ticket lines unnecessarily longer and then more people will complain about how Disney customer service sucks because oh my gosh, the line took FOREVER.

And where are all the signs on property about the 2fer? Because, you know, nobody knows about THAT promotion either. And if you don't tell them about it ONCE THEY'RE ALREADY AT THE PARK, how in the heck are they supposed to know about it?.
Yes, that last paragraph was sarcasm. The 2fer program (for the price of a single-park ticket, you can visit both parks) is offered to Southern California residents and is *very* popular.

I've heard various complaints about the program, including that it's not fair that it's only on your birthday because my birthday is on X date, and I can't go to Disneyland on that day, so it doesn't do me any good, so the promotion sucks and no one should be able to take advantage of it. Ummm, ok. Disney has been offering a promotion at Walt Disney World whereby you pay for a 4-night package and you get 3 extra nights free. That's a great offer. I'm disappointed that I can't take advantage of that because a trip to WDW doesn't fit into our schedule this year. But do I begrudge others taking advantage of it? No. Do I think it's an unfair promotion because I can't personally take advantage of it. No. Am I throwing a fit because Disney is being terribly unfair and mean specifically to me, so they really need to give me something to make up for it? Ummm, no.

To me, Mr. Blogger and Mr. Cooper are just examples that show that for some people, if you give them a slice of cake, they'll complain that you didn't put chocolate sprinkles on it or that the slice wasn't big enough or that you didn't offer them a brownie or prime rib instead.


Tim Castro said...

The sense of entitlement some people have is appalling.

Sherry said...

Your last paragraph totally reminds me of the thing with my team member yesterday: Give an inch, they take the ruler, and then whack you with it.