Browns Stadium Fails Ultimate UX Test

I attended last night’s football game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets. My bride came upon some loge seats, so we went.

I’m regretting it.

First, we arrive, after parking our car in the Science Center garage, and enter the nearest National City entrance.

This is where all the shit starts (sorry — there’s more), unfortunately. Please read on.

Instead of directing us to the South side entrance, the kindly Customer Service gentleman ushered us into the North entrance, and told us to go to the third floor, follow it to the right and go around into the City View Lounge, then take another elevator…

In short, he made us walk the entire circumference of the stadium. Nice. Thanks.

We finally made it to our seats/loge, but only after the Browns had made it half-way through their first possession (after a three-and-out by the Jets after kickoff). I saw the last four or five plays of the Browns’ opening drive, including Braylon Edwards’ fantastic touchdown catch, which was a spectacle.

Then the thundercloud hit, driving everyone out of the stadium and the teams off the field. I’m OK with the removal of people into safer surroundings — please don’t get me wrong — but Cleveland Browns Stadium is NOT built for 72,000 people crowding the third floor lounges — under any circumstances.

At this momentous point in time, I was sent down for a pretzel. Yeah, right. I went downstairs, against my better judgment.

Issue #1: I asked for two pretzels, and was told by the concessionaire that they “can’t serve you any pretzels. There aren’t any.” When asked why, he said, “because they are coming out of the oven too hard.”

So I ordered a large, Souvenir Size Diet Pepsi for my wife, figuring I could get something better elsewhere (including a better beer than the swill they serve there for as much as you can buy for six at the store).

While I waited, the supervisor brought over a regular-sized Diet Pepsi instead of a Souvenir Cup. She asked the server about this, and he said (and I shit you not): “The customer changed his mind and asked for the large size.”

“Excuse me,” I said, “I asked for the large size initially — please don’t blame ME for your… well… misunderstanding. It’s not my fault.”

The station manager, in a huff, took the pop over to the fountain, dumped it into a large cup, topped it off with more soda, and brought it back without a word.

Fault #2, #3, & #4: don’t blame me for “changing his mind” when I didn’t!; don’t give me a huffy attitude, and don’t walk away like a bitch, OK? Say you’re, well, not sorry, but that you regret the inconvenience of the miscommunication, OK?

And don’t treat me like a piece of shit.

Bitch.

Then I decided to venture over to another stand to get a better beer and a couple of pretzels, hoping that they aren’t using the same oven — they couldn’t be! OK…

The third floor lounge is NOT built for weather delays, let me tell you: there wasn’t an inch to walk in, even if your life depended on it. Seriously: I wouldn’t want to have a heart attack in there! You can’t move — there’s no room at all.

Then, in the midst of that crowd, I discovered that I had lost my cell phone.

OMFG!

I lost my cell phone, a Verizon LG 9900 EnV with all of my photos, my contacts, photos — everything. OMFG!

Panic set in. I began to scour the area, looking high and low, through tangles of legs and such, all over the area, looking for my phone. I actually questioned a kid with a suspiciously-looking identical phone, complete with the “secret” code taped to the inner screen, about the phone. He said it was his, and an adult next to him told me to leave him alone.

OK. I returned upstairs. I grabbed my wife’s phone and called our cellular provider and suspended my phone’s Electronic Serial Number, preventing anyone from using the phone. Cool. I’ll let the homeowner’s insurance cover it from here, but…

I decided to go to Guest Services to see if anyone was honest enough to turn it in. This was an adventure in itself: not one “Customer Service” person seemed to know where Guest Services was actually located — one said it was in Section 102, another said 108, another said 130, another said 150… you get the idea… and each had a different way to get there!

Hey: “You can’t miss it!”

It took me 45 minutes to find Guest Services.

Of course, I’m looking for a 3-foot-high sign that said, “Guest Services,” but I was wrong: the sign was, in truth, less than a foot high, in the midst of BUY THIS and BUY THAT.

Nothing to help out someone in dire straits.

I finally found Guest Services in Section 102, and filed a report on a 11.5×8″ paper manually torn in quarters, and turned it in to the gal at the desk. She called a couple of the other GS stations, but no luck. She then said she’d call my wife’s phone if they found it.

Great.

Ok, so now it’s almost half-time, and I arrived back at the suite. My wife tells me, “if you want food, you gotta go now: it’s 7 minutes until half-time. Go beat the crowds.”

Great. Back into the abyss.

So I went downstairs, and started toward one of the food stands. I wanted a Guinness, and had seen it earlier, but… Hey: I had earned it, OK? On the way, I decided to stop by the concierge and see if someone had turned in a cell phone. I described it.

There it was. OMFG!

The 2GB data card was still there, too! OK… time warp… I got two Guinness, drank one, and went upstairs, OK?… Cool… I get back to the suite, and found that someone — while the phone was out of my possession — tried to make an international call at almost $10/minute.

They were denied, of course, because: a) my service declines international service without a pass code; and b) I had an unpaid balance (just billed, thank you) that they didn’t want to pay. They wisely decided to turn the phone in to Lost & Found.

Wow. Back to the game, OK?

By the time I returned to our loge, the third-stringers were playing, and watching the game was a worthless proposition. We decided to leave. I saw a total, over the evening, of 6 or 7 plays by the Browns’ offense, and 2 or 4 by the defense. Wow.

Our exit, thankfully, was simple and straight. We found our own way out, thank you very much.

Lessons: Don’t accept me at the wrong entrance — please direct me to the proper entrance and don’t make me walk the entire circumference, OK?

Make Damned Fucking Sure EVERY Customer Service Agent KNOWS WHERE THE FUCK GUEST SERVICES IS, and HOW TO TELL A GUEST WHERE TO FIND IT. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Don’t EVER allow food services workers to blame the customer for a mistake! Want to drive me away? That did it right there, before I knew I had lost the phone! Get rid of that guy RIGHT NOW. He’s incompetent.

Don’t ever assume the guest is at fault: most times they are, true enough, but sometimes they’re not; listen to them, hear them out, and try to discern their issue: don’t just say, “I don’t know. Ask someone else.” I got that repeatedly.

If you can’t answer my question, don’t just blindly take me somewhere — ask me if I CARE if you take me somewhere — don’t automatically assume I know where I am: I might be lost! I don’t want to get more lost than I already am, OK?

Right now, I don’t want to go back to Browns’ Stadium.

I wonder why.

3 Comments

  • by Tom 16 Aug 2008 at 9:19 am

    At least the tickets were free. I wouldn’t pay a dime to see a Browns game.

  • by Derek Arnold 15 Sep 2008 at 6:27 am

    It’s sad what kind of customer service you get when you’ve already shelled out so much to get there and park there.

    That’s why I prefer a GA ticket to an Akron Aeros game over a Club Seat at an Indians game any day.

  • by Steve F 29 Mar 2011 at 9:50 am

    The NFLs revenue model is broken. It depends too much on overpriced concessions, parking, and even tickets to the games themselves (your free tickets notwithstanding). When asked why their non-sold out games are blacked out, the owners reply “So people will go to the games instead of watching them on TV.”

    Excuse me, but maybe the fact that people want to stay home and watch the games on TV has little to do with the fact that they are actually available to watch on TV, and far more with experiences such as yours.

    I know this was a few years ago, but things haven’t changed much, as far as I can see. How many people, in this economy, can even afford to attend a game in person, what with $15 parking a couple of $70 (f you’re lucky) game tickets and a $40 concession budget?

    Let’s see, spend $200 to see a game live, or hang out at home with my friends, watch it on my 55in flat screen in HD, and avoid spending a day’s wages for the privilege of waiting in lines for everything from getting into the parking garage to getting out of it again.

    Cut the costs so that an average working guy can afford to take his family for less than a vacation to Disneyland, and maybe then you’ll understand . The problem is that the owners are very wealthy and out of touch with the “Joe Average” who fills the seats. They have these mega TV contracts and corporations filling their luxury boxes at $100K a season to prop them up.

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