Update on the TKTS booth: Does hanging up on someone give you a good “rep”?

On Monday, I told you I would test the rep of the men behind the management of the renovation of the TKTS booth to see if someone would take responsibility, and also give a citizen some information.

Here’s how it went down:

Call #1:  D. Haller

Ring, ring . . .

D. Haller:  “D. Haller.”

Me:    “Hi.  My name is Ken Davenport. I’m a NYC resident and I have an office in Times Square and I’m calling about the construction project at Duffy Square that seems to be incredibly behind schedule.  I was wondering what the delay was?”

D. Haller:  “You have to call Ellen Goldstein at the Times Square Alliance about that.  Her number is 212-452-5208.

Me:  “Ah, ok.  But aren’t you the construction management firm?”

D. Haller:  “You have to call Ellen Goldstein at the Times Square Alliance.”

Me:  “Ah, ok . . . but can you tell me . . . are you the construction managers.”

D. Haller:  “Yes, we are the construction managers but you have to call Ellen Goldstein at the Times Square Alliance.”

Me:  “Huh.  Ok.  Thank you.”

Call #2:  Ellen Goldstein at the Times Square Alliance

Ring, ring . . .

Ellen Goldstein:  “Ellen Goldstein.”

Me:  “Hi Ellen. My name is Ken Davenport. I’m a NYC resident and I have an office in Times Square and I’m calling about the construction
project at Duffy Square that seems to be incredibly behind
schedule.  I just got off the phone with D. Haller and they said . . .

Ellen Goldstein:  “They tell everyone to call me about this.  I’m not the right person to talk to about this.”

Me:  “Oh, ok, well, can you tell me who I . . .

Dial tone.  She hung up.  End of conversation.  Hmmmmm . . .

Call #3:  D. Haller

Ring, ring . . .

D. Haller:  “D. Haller.”

Me:   “Hi.  I spoke to you earlier about the construction project in Duffy Square and you said to call Ellen Goldstein.  She said she was the wrong person to talk to and then she hung up on me.”

D. Haller:  “Really?  Huh.  Well, let me put you on with Billy.”

I don’t really know who Billy was.  But he was definitely the Boss.

And Billy was great.  After asking me if I was a reporter, he confirmed that the project was supposed to take only six months.  He told me it wasn’t a management problem, and that the design of this project was extremely ambitious (something confirmed in the TSA’s own description ).  Did you know that the design actually was honored by the New York City Art Commission for excellence in design?

I asked when he thought it would be done.  He anticipated it would be completed by the end of the summer.

Billy then apologized for Ellen hanging up on me and he said I deserved info as does everyone else who lives in this city.

What did I learn in my day as a faux-Geraldo?

  • The person that answers the phone is like a soldier on the front lines.  Arm them with the right info so they can deal with “incomings”.
  • Don’t hang up on people.  Duh.  Cuz they might have a blog.  Or write a user review.  Or tell their friends that your show sucks, and you won’t have a chance to give your side of the story.
  • Speak to the boss.  Go to the top when you want the real answers, even though they may not be the ones you want to hear.
  • And my favorite lesson of the day?

Just because something wins art awards and is praised up and down as
“significant”, doesn’t mean it’s practical.

Whether or not you’re building a TKTS booth or a Broadway show for a market as complicated as the one in Times Square, there has to be a balance
between art and construction.

Comments
  • Mish says:

    Even though Ellen (Vice President of Planning, Policy & Design) didn’t have the answers, wouldn’t she be curious enough to find out what the holdup was since “everyone” calls her about it? And wouldn’t their Board have kicked up a fuss over the delay? Or by the looks of the Quarterly Indicator Reports posted on their website, maybe they started gauging quality on a triennial basis….

  • Rocco says:

    I cannot believe that the Times Square Alliance lady hung up on you! That is inexcusable. Especially after you identified yourself as somebody with an office in the area. I thought the Times Square Alliance was supposed to be helpful. Sounds like Ellen could use a lesson in customer service.

  • Lewis says:

    The bottom line is – as you look thru the fence – the booth is no bigger than it was. This all cost someone $12 million (and likely more with delays) To sell half price tickets. And polish the statue.
    After all this, I predict
    a) they still won’t take credit cards
    b) they still won’t be nice about locations
    c) they still will only speak English
    d) there will still not be a sign to see whats available anywhere along the lone
    e) the $6-8 million red staircase will become a favorite hangout of the homeless.

  • Scott says:

    and shouldn’t your conversations be forwarded to the Mayor’s office or at the very least, Ellen’s boss?

  • MissPinkKate says:

    We used the TKTS booth in Times Square just last Saturday, and I gotta say, they really need to do something about making the board of available shows visible to those in line, particularly those right at the front. We got to the front and tons of things we wanted to see were already sold out. Luckily, we ended up getting tickets to something (Altar Boyz, and my out of town guest LOVED it, particularly because she got to see Neil from SYTYCD), but I think things would probably be a lot harder for people with less NYC theatre knowledge than our party. I also noticed as we left the booth that a lot of shows we had been told were sold out were still visible on the board! What’s up with that?

  • Paco says:

    Why should they speak any languages other than English? How difficult is it for a person to learn how to ask for tickets in English?

  • Tim Tompkins says:

    I’m Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance. I want to apologize for one of our employees having hung up on someone who was asking questions about the Duffy Square project. That wasn’t appropriate or professional. If anyone has questions about the project, that can call Minerva Martinez at 212 452 5213.
    There is no doubt the project has been a real challenge, partly becuase of bad luck (the lead glass contractor went into bankruptcy last year) and partly because it is a very ambitious and innovative project from an architectural and engineering point of view. All that we ask is that people reserve judgement until it is completed; at taht point we hope people will see it as an iconic and wonderful gathering place which allows people to enjoy both Times Square and the theater in new ways.

  • Vance says:

    I remember being given the redesign project as an architecture school assignment back at university but that means it was 10 years ago now.
    It took them THIS long to decide (and I STILL think my design was better and more user friendly and cooler looking) and build it and it’s STILL not done? Its a fricken staircase over an office for goodness sakes (and it’s still not going to make it easier for people to get to the window and out for an easy flow pattern…)

  • trader says:

    The NY Post was told the glass steps will be done this week. Do you think Tompkins will have the same level of job responsibility after this is done? I doubt it.
    http://www.nypost.com/seven/09072008/news/regionalnews/tkts_job_scalps_city_for_11m_127872.htm

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