It is not with callousness or malice that I cheer the misfortune of Six Flags but rather with a satisfaction that sometimes people, or as in this case, corporations get what they deserve. And Six Flags has run such a poor ship for so many years that their downfall, poor economy or not, is no surprise.
Wretched customer service, inferior quality products, rampantly escalating prices, poor promotions, incompetent staff, and worthless up-sells will drive a positive return for only so long, and so it seems the amusement park mogul has reached the end of the line.
Now make no mistake, your unfriendly regional tourist trap is not really going anywhere. It will restructure and make another run at profitability. But unless wholesale changes are adopted, the enterprise should expect more or the same.
So why the harsh stance, you might ask? What ax might I possibly have to grind? Well, none so dissimilar from those of many of their dissatisfied patrons. I experienced an expensive and horrible day in their Atlanta location a number of years ago and vowed never to return. However, the negative experience grated on me so many days later that I penned a letter to their CEO to vent my frustrations.
Here’s a taste of how that correspondence went:
I have visited 6-Flags each of the last two summers, but just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that based on my most recent experience, I will not be back.
For you benefit, I’ll run down the most significant offending transgressions in the event you have an interest in improving your product rather than simply increasing their prices.
- Your ticket clerk, Tory, openly and visibly laughed at us – then turned and walked away – when we tried to redeem a Coke can for ½ price admission. Apparently, the promotion was only for off-peak times but that didn’t seem to warrant the response we received.
- After standing in the Q-Bot line for about 20 minutes, a relatively short wait by your standards, Audrey-in-charge (according to her name tag) smugly announced that she was not selling, but only accepting returns – she then turned and walked away too, must be a part of the customer facing training you provide. Of course the selling/returning distinction was not posted and I was amazed that you had an open window in all of your park that was not willing to take my money. And yes, that placed me back at the end of the line
- Finally, the Q-Bot was a joke, after paying over $60 in rental fees it proved itself a colossal waste of money and time. Without exception, every time we tried to use it, it would display a wait time clearly longer than that of the actual line, and the dramatically limited queueing functionality only serves to further reduce its value.
That would have been it, my frustrations would have faded and I might have even ventured back into a park at the gentle urging of my young nephew or at the sudden interest of my wife. After all, I do enjoy a good roller coaster every now and again. But what happened next, cemented the deal for me. I’ll never step back into their park.
What happened you ask? The office of the CEO actually responded. And not in a way you’d expect an executive leadership team to respond to a disgruntled patron. Oh how I wish I had kept the letter to transcribe it here for you… the CEO was insulting in his flat denial of my experience and critical in his evaluation of my product knowledge and roundly dismissive of all faults found with his organization.
In my eyes, his response was an impossible feat. He justified their pricing and behaviors and alienated a paying customer. In a business whose model is predicated on $60 tickets and $8 soft drinks, each patron through the gates starts to resemble a crisp $100 bill. Not that I was fishing for a freebie, but strategically he’d been better off giving me a free season pass and hoping I wore the bar coding off it.
Alas, instead he showed his arse and earned at least one cheer as his company takes a spin down the drain. Now that’s amusement.
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