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Warning to Festival Organisers

Mr Red 29 Aug 06 - 08:04 AM
erinmaidin 29 Aug 06 - 08:45 AM
Mr Red 29 Aug 06 - 01:15 PM
Peace 29 Aug 06 - 02:11 PM
skipy 29 Aug 06 - 02:16 PM
The Shambles 29 Aug 06 - 02:23 PM
Dave Hanson 30 Aug 06 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,padgett 30 Aug 06 - 04:01 AM
jonm 30 Aug 06 - 06:42 AM
Mr Red 30 Aug 06 - 07:42 AM
Paul from Hull 30 Aug 06 - 08:00 AM
Liz the Squeak 30 Aug 06 - 09:09 AM
skipy 30 Aug 06 - 09:35 AM
Crystal 30 Aug 06 - 09:55 AM
Liz the Squeak 30 Aug 06 - 10:56 AM
skipy 30 Aug 06 - 11:07 AM
Liz the Squeak 30 Aug 06 - 11:14 AM
JedMarum 30 Aug 06 - 11:21 AM
Big Mick 30 Aug 06 - 11:38 AM
leeneia 30 Aug 06 - 12:04 PM
skipy 30 Aug 06 - 12:21 PM
John MacKenzie 30 Aug 06 - 12:58 PM
GUEST 30 Aug 06 - 01:24 PM
Mr Yellow 30 Aug 06 - 01:26 PM
The Shambles 30 Aug 06 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,Russ 30 Aug 06 - 01:56 PM
John MacKenzie 30 Aug 06 - 02:40 PM
RWJ 30 Aug 06 - 02:59 PM
Scoville 30 Aug 06 - 03:28 PM
GUEST,Russ 30 Aug 06 - 03:37 PM
Wesley S 30 Aug 06 - 03:42 PM
Herga Kitty 30 Aug 06 - 03:49 PM
danensis 31 Aug 06 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,neovo 31 Aug 06 - 07:59 AM
Dave'sWife 31 Aug 06 - 08:15 AM
John MacKenzie 31 Aug 06 - 08:50 AM
Gervase 31 Aug 06 - 09:01 AM
JedMarum 31 Aug 06 - 09:13 AM
John MacKenzie 31 Aug 06 - 09:29 AM
Jeri 31 Aug 06 - 09:37 AM
John MacKenzie 31 Aug 06 - 10:46 AM
M.Ted 31 Aug 06 - 11:20 AM
The Shambles 31 Aug 06 - 12:15 PM
Jeri 31 Aug 06 - 01:01 PM
Jeri 31 Aug 06 - 01:08 PM
The Shambles 31 Aug 06 - 02:23 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 31 Aug 06 - 03:07 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 31 Aug 06 - 03:09 PM
Richard Bridge 31 Aug 06 - 06:05 PM
The Shambles 31 Aug 06 - 06:20 PM
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Subject: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Mr Red
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 08:04 AM

There is a person who's name I vaugely know who is a professional complainer.

Bob Berry resigned from Chippenham for 8 hours because of it - thankfully he calmed down. Sandra at Shrewsbury had to deal with him - but I got an eyeball of him that day.

Basically he enjoys complaining at length and at Chippenham two years running - loudly and six inches from your face.

Ask Bob or Sandra at Festival Organisers meetings for a better description. But ask - if he is not yet known to you. I think he specialises in big festivals but he may have run out of them.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: erinmaidin
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 08:45 AM

performer? back-stage hanger on? attendee?


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Mr Red
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 01:15 PM

attendee


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Peace
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 02:11 PM

Why doesn't someone tell him two words? The ones taht come to mind are 'sex' and 'travel'.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: skipy
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 02:16 PM

I resign every year, it's the nature of the beast, how the hell Bob manages with a beast the size of his festival I will never know!
Sat and had a couple of relaxing beers with him at Towersay 3 days ago.
Thanks Steve.
Skipy


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 02:23 PM

Not too sure if one can make a living as 'professional complainer'. But I think we know what you mean by this and this assessment of this (still unidentified) individual may well be right. But how is anyone to know if an individual they may be having complaints from is the same individual?

But just as a professional organiser may not always be all that organised - so all the complaints made by a so-called professional complainer may not be groundless. Perhaps it is wise not to dismiss complaints just because of where they may be coming from, the manner they are expressed or the number of them?

After all, it is the the complaint that needs investigating - for we are all capable of getting things wrong. And even if we are not getting it wrong - things can always be improved.

But if you don't want to accept that you may have cocked-up or that your best efforts could be improved - it is rather an easy option just carry on and to place the blame on the one complaining.

I wonder if such warnings as this would be issued about any 'professional praisers' of the efforts of all festival organisers - no matter how disorganised the resulting festivals may be? Perhaps these would be doing more damage?


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 03:55 AM

Name names.

eric


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 04:01 AM

Once identified should be 'warned off'and advised that he is a trespasser

Ray


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: jonm
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 06:42 AM

I would imagine from the original post that what we are dealing with is someone who, although they may have a valid complaint about organisation or services, will blow it out of all proportion and pursue it aggressively to the point of offensiveness.

I get a lot of these in my work. A number are aggressive people, rude people, sometimes because they are not articulate enough to understand their own issues.

The first thing I establish is what they actually want by way of a resolution, BEFORE they launch into a wild tirade, i.e. do they want their money back, are they trying to improve the system etc. This stops a lot of moaners in their tracks. The more they ask for, the more I stress I will need to investigate their complaint fully and independently in their absence.

Once I've established what their expectations are, I then listen to their complaints. If they shout or become abusive, I ask them to go away until they have calmed down to the point of reasonableness. I have an assistant who can remove them if necessary. As they go on, I distinguish subjective and objective information in the way I deal with each statement. If there is a factual problem (e.g. programme running late), I gather data ("how late? were people made aware of this as the problem arose?"). I deal more severely with subjective issues ("It was crap." "What qualifies you to judge the quality of this?").

I then have a list of their fact-based issues, plus their contact details. I tell them to go away and I will write to them once a full investigation has been conducted. I insist on no further contact with them until they have received my letter.

I ALWAYS send a letter, even where complaints are unfounded, simply to remove further ammunition. I keep a file of thank-you letters from those who feel I have done a thorough job.

Sorry if I'm teaching grandmothers to suck eggs, but the key aims for me are to establish their expectation, obtain facts (just the facts, ma'am) and to get rid of them as quickly as possible so I can get on with my job. I probably write one to three letters a day at busy times. I do not accept and will not put up with rudeness or offensive behaviour and have removed many people until they have calmed down enough to enter into rational discussion. Always have a witness present, preferably someone who can do the removing if necessary.

Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Mr Red
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 07:42 AM

jonm has it - at Shrewsbury he was offered his money back, and it was not what he wanted.

I am assuming it is the same man (that narrows it down a bit) but the way it was conveyed is the issue. Sandra is a very easy person to talk to, but pragmatic.

The guy was still around scrounging his free "in" to the swimming pool on the Sunday.

His actual complaint was not stated by him nor Sandra - but if he can't delineate it to stewards and insists on speaking to the boss, it is a big clue to his modus operandii. You don't get to my age (30 today would you believe?) without reading people resonably well.

If you need to know, ask those who can tell you more accurately.

The point is "forewarned is forearmed". You can deal with instead of react. Maybe not what he wants, but it should be what you want.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Paul from Hull
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 08:00 AM

I suspect he has never tried it at Whitby Folk Week (maybe too far North for the guy) but there, Malcolm WOULD have given him these 2 special little words, & likely assisted him in carrying them out...


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 09:09 AM

Given the proportion of festival organisers to volunteer stewards who regularly read/post to this site, it's more likely that the VSs are going to have to deal with this person eventually.

I'm glad to say that in all the years I've stewarded festivals I've only had one major complainant - a guy missed the first 30 mins of a concert because his car had broken down and he'd been delayed - and tried on 3 consecutive days to get his money back from 3 different stewards/organisers. We all gave him the same polite but negative answer.

Skipy - why didn't you make yourself known at Towersey, I could have bummed a beer off you!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: skipy
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 09:35 AM

LTS, we had a chat by the real ale door, rest of the time I was on the admirals table, placed me yet?
Skipy


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Crystal
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 09:55 AM

Stewarding the kids events you don't usually get so much aggro, there have been a few people though! They can't be bothered to get up to take their kid to an event, but give the stewards hassle if there are no spaces left!


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 10:56 AM

ER... were you wearing a reddish Tshirt?

If so....


GuDOIINNNNNNNNNNG

That's the penny dropping with a resounding clang!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: skipy
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 11:07 AM

Nope, biege fleece, stupid haircut with ridge along the top.
I can be found on crane driver's wedding shots along with Tony & Pearl, Pete & Denise.
Skipy


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 11:14 AM

BEIGE!!!!

I don't believe it.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: JedMarum
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 11:21 AM

I've run into such people as a performer - finding offense at the most benign issue. Some people get pleasure from feeling offended and find they can elevate that feeling if they gripe most professionally and publically. Others find that they can get much more then they paid for if they do the same. The former is a sickness of the mind - the later may be that coupled with a need to get somethig for nothing.

Still others shop lift ... what craziness inhabits our human nature, eh?

;-)


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 11:38 AM

Always remember that Festival Organizers are usually volunteers. Treat them accordingly. But for their volunteer efforts, you don't have a venue to play and get paid at.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: leeneia
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 12:04 PM

I complained at a festival once. We had bought tickets to the first concert of the weekend.

The music (harp) had started. Children were exploding balloons. Bram! Bram! Guys from the Green Party were having beer and loud conversation at the back of the tent. A musicologist seated behind me offered running commentary during the playing. A four-year-old in cheap party shoes was running back and forth across the wooden floor: clack-clack-clack-clack. (Being only four, she needed to break balloons for five minutes, then run up to mommy and daddy to make sure they were still there.)

We went to the ticket sales area and asked for our money back, but they wouldn't do it. We left. Later that weekend, strangers stopped me two or three times to say that agreed with me.

Of course, I didn't complain constantly, just once. But my points were valid, and if I had complained about them separately as they occurred, they would have remained valid.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: skipy
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 12:21 PM

LTS? what don't you believe?
the biege or you have worked out who I am?
Skipy


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 12:58 PM

Who said earlier on in this thread...
"Not too sure if one can make a living as 'professional complainer'"
Well I'm still chuckling!
G


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 01:24 PM

oh dear, if Mr red is thirty today he must have had a very hard life so far.
What can we do about the poor old chap's biological clock, its obviously running much too fast :-))


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Mr Yellow
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 01:26 PM

There was one person I saw in a paper. He was paid to get money for unpaid bills. Well his complaint was that he stank. His MO was to cover himself in obnoxious smells and sit in the shop/reception etc until in desperation they paid the bill, rather than loose customers.

I guess any debt collector is a professional complainer.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 01:45 PM

Always remember that Festival Organizers are usually volunteers. Treat them accordingly. But for their volunteer efforts, you don't have a venue to play and get paid at.

I don't think we need to remember - for there is always someone (usually a volunteer) who is more than willing to remind us. Usually with their words and sadly often by their actions.

Should we really be expecting less from those who volunteer whilst at the same time be demanding more from those who do get paid for their services? I suggest that if anyone is willing enough to take your money - that makes you a customer and as we all know - the customer is always right.

For if you volunteer but can't stand the heat in the kitchen - does this really entitle you to throw pots and pans at the customers?


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 01:56 PM

I agree with The Shambles on this one.

It should work both ways.

Granted, the event would not be possible without volunteers.

Equally granted, the event would be a pointless exercise without attendees.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 02:40 PM

Whatever anybody says, the old diktat about the customer always being right, is crap!
Giok


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: RWJ
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 02:59 PM

As for custmers allways being right , this customer spent twenty mins in my face cmplaining and saying nothing but i have to do this every year . But he still turns up , why ?


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Scoville
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 03:28 PM

I was going to ask that: why?

I've been to bad festivals but then I don't got back the following year. Seems like a no-brainer. Of course, I also don't scream in peoples' faces when things don't go according to plan, so maybe this guy and I are just too fundamentally different to begin with.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 03:37 PM

Big Mick,

"remember that Festival Organizers are usually volunteers"

That also works both ways.

If the volunteers don't treat their customers/your audience right, you won't have a venue to play and get paid at next year.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Wesley S
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 03:42 PM

From years in the service industry I can assure you that some people just get off on yelling at other people. They can't yell at the average guy on the street or they would get punched in the nose. Same thing if he yells at his wife. So they often go off on someone in the service industry { sales clerk, waitress } knowing that 9 times out of 10 they just have to stand there and take it or they've lost their job.

My opinion of folks like that is not very high. They are bullies.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 03:49 PM

LtS - Skipy runs the festival I missed because I went to Whitby..... (if there had been 5 Mondays in August I could have got to both)

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: danensis
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 07:38 AM

Are Festival Organisers volunteers? I thought some made quite a comfortable living from it? Certainly one organiser dropped a major festival because she thought she deserved more money. Perhaps some Open Book accounting is in order? It seems a little strange that some may be profiting from an activity that relies heavily on volunteer labour,

John


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: GUEST,neovo
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 07:59 AM

Stewards et al may be volunteers but they do get payment in kind in the form of free tickets etc. When you consider a weekend ticket could be in the region of £60 that's about 10 hours work at the miminum wage.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 08:15 AM

Mr. Red, thanks for making me feel less like the child here at Mudcat. Sometimes when I don't something or aren't familiar with something and catch a lecture about it, people will find out I'm 42 and and then say "Oh, OK, nevermind." Which is not them being dismissive but it does make feel sometimes the way I did when I was dating someone 22 years older than myself!

Back when that was happening, I was walking around the fellow's apartment one evening(he was a literary agent) and commenting on certain things I saw. I picked up one rather osbscure but excellent book off the shelf and said "Oh! I can't believe you have this. I simply loved this book when I was child." He replied "Oh, yes. Wonderful book. I sold that. She (the author) used to be a client of mine. I sold her first 8 books."

Sometimes I make a comment here or point a fact out and get a reply from someone that reminds me of that evenbing in that fellow's apartment.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 08:50 AM

danensis, I suggest you ask Steve Heaps about the ethics of that one.
G.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Gervase
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 09:01 AM

Oh blimey, not that one again!
I've got no problems with Steve Heap making a living out of running festivals (though how much comes from festivals and how much from Mrs Casey and Rocking Chair is a moot point).

I've also got no problems with him putting his equity on the line year in and year out. Festivals need a lot of money up front, and they can, potentially, lose a lot of money. if Steve wants to take that risk, then he's welcome to make a profit out of it.

I don't see a huge difference in price between his festivals and the more amateurish and home-grown affairs, and I don't see guests of any ethical stripe boycotting Steve's festivals. I'd love to know how many people who carp at him have ever sat down with him and talked about running a festival. Or would even recognise him if he sat next to them in a session.

As for the volunteer issue; I've stewarded many times, but I don't do it for nothing, or for the love of it. I do it for the free ticket. As such, I reckon I owe the festival a duty of care to do my job properly. But that doesn't give anyone the right to be an idiot when they're dealing with me.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: JedMarum
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 09:13 AM

Many of the big US festivals, managed and operated by volunteers hire professionals in various categories (beyond performance). Typically that would be the event director and a publicity person.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 09:29 AM

Gervase; a mite touchy there mate, you extrapolated an awful lot from a dozen words!
G. [Who has nothing against Steve Heaps]


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Jeri
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 09:37 AM

I think it's 'Heap', not 'Heaps', Giok. You know, like 'sheep' instead of 'sheeps'.

As for the actual subject, you do what you can for people who complain. The bottom line is that you do the best job serving the majority. At some point that means you're going to have to politely as possible ignore people who've demonstrated it's impossible to satisfy, and give other folks the attention they deserve.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 10:46 AM

Let's face it, there are some people who get their rocks off by complaining!
G.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 11:20 AM

Like WesleyS, I worked in the service industry--and he is exactly right--there are people who bully and abuse service people deliberately because they know they can get away with it. They are difficult people to deal with, because, they present themselves as "victims" while at the same time threatening with a variety of retaliations, including physical violence. In reality, they are abusive predators who can do a lot of damage to an event--

Event planners need to prepare in advance for identifying and dealing with individuals of this sort so that they neither disrupt the event nor demoralize the event staff-


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 12:15 PM

Thankfully both those customers who feel they can bully and volunteers who abuse their position are rare enough for us to be able to deal with?


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Jeri
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 01:01 PM

I think the bullying customrs are probably well known, but the procedures are needed so those organizers or volunteers know what to do when one shows up, as M.Ted indicated. You have one person who can deal with the individual away from the group, who's aware it's a waste of time but doesn't mind being the distraction. You listen, try to help, then when the intent to manipulate becomes clear, smile, walk away and let the manipulative person decide what they want to do next.

I've also been the person in the office to whom the difficult people were supposed to be sent. You do what you can, and you learn when to move on.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Jeri
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 01:08 PM

Oh, I should mention that I think M.Ted's right. Part of the plan is to have someone to who to send these people, who can handle whack jobs yelling at them or tying to make them feel guilty, and who is capable of just walking away. They aren't easy to find, but if they KNOW that's what their job is, it's easier. If they're problem solvers, and the problem is evidently the person who's complaining rather than the complaint, the logical solutions change.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 02:23 PM

Thankfully both those customers who feel they can bully and volunteers who abuse their position are rare enough for us to be able to deal with?

The big problem comes in dealing with situations where those who wish to bully - have themselves obtained postions of some authority.

Then perfectly valid and moderately expressed concerns about this abuse of authority and sensible suggestions to deal with it - are then able to be dismissed by the unreasonable party by attempts to label the complainants as unreasonable.

Sadly these attempts are often supported by others simply because those in a postion of authority are assumed to have some credibility.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 03:07 PM

"Sadly these attempts are often supported by others simply because those in a postion of authority are assumed to have some credibility."

Like it or not, the persons in authority have some credibility becaus it is their show. A festival organizer, while they may be inexperienced, have the final say. They have to think of what is best for their show and the majority of the audience.   

I was at a local club where a woman kept complaining about her chair - loudly.   These were folding chairs, metal with plastic seats, that were used for the monthly concert series as well as the church services that normally took place in the room they were renting. I heard the woman complain to one of the club organizers that she had a bad back and "couldn't possibly" sit in the chair.   The organizer found this woman a padded chair and let her use it. (Was it fair to give her another chair? If others started to complain, where would they find more chairs of this type? Why should she get preferential treatment?)   About 10 minutes into the show, this woman got up and went back to the person and started complaining, loud enough to disturb the audience. She would not leave the room, even though the volunteer was trying to get her out. Finally the woman walked away and spent the rest of the show walking in the aisles and standing in the back.

It could have been worse, and I think the volunteers showed restraint. ANYONE who disrupts a show should be removed from the venue in my estimation.

Troublemakers are known and should not be tolerated.   These shows are private affairs and paying admission does not grant one the right to do whatever they choose.

That said, promoters and volunteers owe it to themselves to try to address complaints and make the guests feel welcome and comfortable. Even worse then a complainer is the person who chooses not to voice their opinion but instead take their business elsewhere. The promoter/volunteer does not know or have an opportunity to address potential issues and the problems could get worse.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 03:09 PM

oops... to clarify, the woman in my story above did not like the second chair they gave her and kept complaining - this time while the show was going on.


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 06:05 PM

Hi Ron

Disability Discrimination Act (in the UK)


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Subject: RE: Warning to Festival Organisers
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 06:20 PM

Like it or not, the persons in authority have some credibility becaus it is their show. A festival organizer, while they may be inexperienced, have the final say. They have to think of what is best for their show and the majority of the audience.

When do persons in authority lose any credidibilty they may have had? Or can this never happen?

An audience member can and will be ejected when they lose their credibility by being judged to be behaving badly, like swearing and shouting. Is it unreasonable to expect this to apply to all parties?


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