This post could also be titled “Massive Disappointment”. I have just taken the executive decision to cancel my weekend trip to London – and UV – tomorrow. It wasn’t easy to come to a decision and even though my RLRA friend, with whom I was going to spend Friday to Sunday, as well as LoLo and Kate had to cancel their trips, up until yesterday I thought I was going.
My mother was very unhappy… Things changed last night when I watched a panel discussion on Coronavirus on Irish telly. Two virology experts clearly said “don’t travel unless you have to; stay at home”, especially if you or a member of your household belongs to the risk groups to whom the virus poses serious danger. Unfortunately that is the case in my house. Dear Mr Guylty suffers from a chronic lung disease called “pulmonary fibrosis”. He has to take extra care, even with the common flu. And as much as I like and admire Armitage, I cannot risk catching the virus by going to far-flung places, sitting in an 800 seat theatre on three consecutive days, travelling on busy public transport, and then spreading it on. I am not so much scared for myself. But I *am* for anyone, who is at higher risk than me. I am also worried about future safety measures, i.e. what happens if they finally come to the conclusion to suspend all public mass gatherings (such as sports and cultural events) or if travel is restricted? Ireland is an island – it would be fairly easy to shut the country off… Ok, I don’t want to veer into panic-mongering. Suffice to say that I have cancelled my flight already. Compliments to British Airways for their supereasy flight cancellation system. I even received all my taxes back, so the financial loss is manageable.
The same can not be said for ATG Theatre Group, the company behind the Harold Pinter Theatre. Not only did I spend a long time waiting in queue on the phone (maybe there were others in the same predicament as I?), but then they also declined to refund my superexpensive “Champagne Experience” ticket for tomorrow night’s performance of Uncle Vanya. Ok, I totally get that I signed up to the small print when I bought my ticket, and the company is a business, not a charity. However, when I asked that my very expensive ticket be exchanged for a ticket at a later date, that was declined as well – because such requests are only honoured up to 48 hours prior to performance. We are talking over 100 GBP (115 Euro) here, and my customer account would’ve shown them several other ticket purchases. I have spent a lot of money with them, and I would’ve hoped that this “ambassadorial theatre experience” would’ve extended to their customer care, too.
However, it did not even make any difference that I am an ATG Theatre Card holder, even though the latter promises you “No quibble ticket-exchange – Book with the confidence that if something comes up, you can exchange your tickets to see the same show another time.” Well, only if you are >48 hours early. Again – sure, that’s in the small print, and I signed up to that when I subscribed. However, we are currently experiencing a rather extraordinary, global health crisis, and I would’ve expected a little more goodwill from the company. Especially as I was willing to merely *exchange* the ticket for a later date, rather than demand a refund. Declining such – in front of the backdrop of coronavirus – looks like profiteering to me.
And don’t even get me started on the useless ATG Theatre Card. I bought it in order to have the benefit of priority booking. In the event of UV tickets coming on sale, the priority period was a mere *two hours* on a weekday morning back in September 2019.
Which caught me completely off-guard while travelling in a remote part of Ireland – and hence was unable to avail of. It also hasn’t helped with the exchange/refund of my ticket. Conclusion: The 35 GBP fee for the annual Theatre Card subscription was effectively good for nothing. Don’t buy it – it is not worth it! The conclusion is: I am sitting on a 100 GBP theatre ticket that I can not use. Really, Richard, that’s how much I love you 😂 Or: Never buy a theatre ticket without cancellation insurance!
In order to get anything positive out of this unsatisfying non-resolution, I want to at least share my experiences with those of you who may be in a similar situation and may have to cancel their trip to the theatre. So here are my
My Recommendations for Cancelling Your UV Ticket
- In the
unlikely event of having to cancel your ticket, you need to ring ATG’s hotline at 03330 096 690 (for calls from UK and Ireland.) Overseas customers ring +44207 206 1182. (Interestingly, this number did not work for me. I was told that “UK customers have to ring [above number]”. Note to ATG: The Republic of Ireland has been independent of the United Kingdom since 1949 😉.) The Harold Pinter Theatre has a box office phone number, too: 0844 871 7622, however, it appears to connect to the ATG service.
- Depending on whether you have ticket insurance or not, you *must* notify them latest 48 hours prior to your ticket’s performance, otherwise they will not refund/reschedule. So bear that in mind and/or act fast.
- You need to have a reason why you are cancelling. And they are asking for proof! If you have a doctor’s note or your country has imposed safety measures, that will help.
- If you can’t get a refund for your ticket, I would recommend you reschedule it for a later date. It is highly unlikely that the coronavirus situation will get any *better* in the foreseeable future. It looks as if it is going to get worse. So all you can do is play for time, choose a later date. That way, you can possibly make other travel plans – or even receive a refund *if* the theatre has to suspend all performances due to the coronavirus.
- Kate recommended another solution to me, which has worked for some: The website Refund Solutions helps you with a refund. You simply fill in their online form and then send the required documents by mail. ETA: You can also e-mail your documents. This includes doctor’s certificates etc., though – you have to prove why you are unable to travel.
- If neither options are available to you (as is the case for me), maybe you have a way of gifting your ticket to a fellow fan. This may only work if you have a digital copy of your ticket, though. (My ticket was held at the box office, and it now looks as if I can’t even pass *that* on because I cannot pick it up in person.)
To make it clear – I sincerely hope that the performances will not be cancelled but that everybody gets a chance to see this wonderful production. It is most unfortunate that the run of UV coincides with this hugely challenging time. I would hate to see it remembered only as “the play that I couldn’t see because of the virus”. It is so worth seeing, and I have been very impressed to note that the performers and the people responsible have kept the play going over the last days/weeks while the whole virus crisis has become bigger. However, I also believe that some people have to make personal choices as regards attendance – both audience as well as cast and crew. I feel we all have some personal responsibility during this time – which, for example, informed my decision to cancel my trip, solely for the benefit of not endangering my husband. I am not accusing anyone – we all have our own reasons for our actions, and if you can go to London, I totally envy you and wish you lots of fun. Let’s just hope that our respective national health systems can withstand the pressure and that our governments do what is best. Not just for our own countries but for the whole world!
Ticket to Give Away
If you are in or near London right now – I have a ticket for tomorrow (12 March) night’s performance to give away for free. It’s for a fourth row seat (D10) and includes the pre-theatre champagne experience in the “Ambassador Lounge”, with champagne, snacks and ice cream. If anybody wants it, get in touch asap so I can try and arrange with the theatre that it will be handed to you at the box office. It would be such a shame of the seat was left empty… we don’t want Richard to think that he’s not worth seeing 😉
Right, and now I am off to do some
panic-buying retail therapy .