Even lefties like roller coasters, but this is ridiculous

A not-very-political post today…

My wife and I bought season passes to Six Flags Great Adventure a couple of months ago.  You know the pitch–pay the season fee, use them twice, and they pay for themselves.  Well, that’s true to an extent, but our friends at Six Flags have figured out a new way to gouge park-goers.

For years, theme parks have had the policy that customers can’t bring in outside food or drink.  I don’t like the policy, but it’s been clearly announced, and if you decide to buy the pass or a ticket, you’re agreeing to the policy.  There’s nothing in the policy about bringing empty bottles, which Ann and I have done lots of times.  Not only are we recycling (yes, we’re kind of green) but we’re saving money by not paying $3 or $4 for drinks during the day.

A new policy, however, makes this strategy much harder.  Used to be, if you were carrying a bag or backpack, you could leave it on the platform so when you got off the ride, it would be there (or not, if somebody stole it).  It was your risk to take.  Now, Six Flags has instituted a policy that bags/backpacks aren’t even allowed in lines waiting for rides because it’s “unsafe” to leave them on the platforms.

This is clearly not a safety issue; if it were, they would have established the policy much sooner.  Instead, it does two things that have nothing to do with safety.  First, it forces customers standing in line to buy drinks from their concession stands or drink machines, at precisely the prices we don’t want to pay.  Second, and more insidious in my opinion, it forces customers to rent one-time-use lockers for a dollar.  Each roller coaster in the park now has its own cluster of lockers next to it, and before you can get in line, you have to spend a buck for your bag.  So if you ride 10 rides in a day, you have to spend 10 bucks on lockers.  It would be less bad (still bad, but less so) if at least the lockers were multiple-use, so that if you spent a dollar you could open and close it as often as you wanted to.  It would still suck because you might have to cross the entire park to find your Tylenol, but still.  What’s more, you have to have $1 bills to use the lockers because you have to buy a token from a machine that doesn’t make change.  So if you don’t have any with you, you have to spend even more time not riding rides while you chase down change.

If the park were actually concerned about safety, they wouldn’t charge for the lockers.  Some parks have cubbyholes on the platforms so people can store their items without taking up floor space.  But Six Flags, by charging for “safety,” is playing a somewhat different game.

Once we’d figured this out, we went to the Customer Service office to discuss it.  Because we’d bought the passes without any announcement from the park about the new policy, all we wanted was for them to pay us back for one day of locker rentals.  Knowing the new policy, we weren’t interested in pushing any further than that.  The CSR we talked to couldn’t have been less helpful.  After making me write up an “Incident Report,” he handed it off to somebody I never got to talk to, who apparently knew of a sign right outside the gates announcing the policy.  She came back about 20 minutes later having written on the report that signs were posted, so they weren’t going to do anything for us.  Since I couldn’t talk to her through the glass wall of the office, I couldn’t explain to her what my point was–that the announcement needed to be made where Season Pass buyers could see it.

So if you go to Six Flags this summer, make sure you have a roll of $1 bills with you, and be prepared to spend a ton of extra money on beverages while you’re waiting in line for rides.  If you carry any kind of medication with you, be prepared not to access it very easily.  And if you have a problem with the policy, be prepared for Customer Service not to care.

I don’t mind paying for things; I don’t mind paying fair market value.  I do mind being gouged.

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8 Responses to Even lefties like roller coasters, but this is ridiculous

  1. Bob Sacamano says:

    Well if the liberals weren’t so soft on terror we wouldn’t have to be so obsessed with security now, would we? It’s a free market economy – if you don’t like the rules, go open your own park!

  2. sethkahn says:

    You just can’t let one pass, can you Bob? In hopes that you’re joking, I’m not going to answer this.

  3. Deanya says:

    Can you still rent strollers? Maybe a junky pack and leave it in the stroller while you’re on rides? You can also get collapsible bottles to refill with water.
    Also check the side gates to see if you can get in and out quickly to get back to your car from any of them; Carowinds used to have back gates that locals used because everyone else wanted to go right in at the front, but we always wanted to get in to certain rides and then be close enough to go back out.

  4. Jenn Halligan says:

    Wow, talk about lame money suckers. That seriously takes away all the fun of the amusement parks…

  5. Donna says:

    Six Flags Fiesta Texas is NOT great with Customer Service. While riding the “Goliath” roller coaster, a family member accidentally dropped his car keys onto a platform just ahead of where the cars let people on and off. Although he could clearly see where the keys had fallen, due to “safety” reasons, he was not allowed to walk over to the area to pick them up. We had no problem with that. However, he was then instructed to file a “lost and found” report and was told that a maintenance crew member would retrieve the keys after the park closed that night. We were then supposed to be notified by phone to work out the logistics of picking up the keys.

    When we heard nothing back by the next day, we started making phone calls and kept getting told that Six Flags staff could not send anyone over to any specific area to take care of this but that we would have to wait until some unknown future time when they do a general “sweep” of the entire park. So – to summarize: We KNEW exactly where the keys were; they would not allow the customer into the area to pick up the keys; yet they were not willing to lift a finger to help us get them back. Bottom line is we had to threaten their office staff with writing letters to upper management before anyone ever took us seriously and finally sent someone over to retrieve the keys (which would have cost us close to $300.00 to replace the electronic key access had that become necessary). FIVE days later, after putting the pressure on, we finally got the keys back.

    We’re in an economic crisis right now and customers are lucky if they even have enough discretionary income to spend in these stupid parks. You would think that would matter as far as how they choose to take care of their customers. Really a shame everything has to be such a gosh darn battle!

  6. […] note: in searching for a roller coaster name to use as an example, I came across this:  https://sethkahn.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/even-lefties-like-roller-coasters-but-this-is-ridiculous/ .  Read the comment at the very top.  I almost cried. Posted by moriahphares Filed in […]

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