I received an update from our Ex-Season Ticket Holder, Paul McGeady. In it, Paul informed me that United had finally contacted him via a phone call and he explained how it went.
With Paul’s permission, here’s the email word-for-word and a few of Paul’s thoughts. It also includes a follow-up email from the club after the conversation took place.
Have a read of it and leave your thoughts below.
It’s a bit strange writing you this note as I’m not sure what’s next. My previous emails to you have all contained the correspondances exchanged with the club, and therefore there was an inevitability about a next stage. i.e. I would get a response or i would chase for some answers.
You and Red Rants have been kind enough to support me and publish the exchanges. I can’t thank you enough for that. The majority of comments added to my articles have been supportive – as are the re-tweets. Sure one or two people didn’t agree with what I was saying/doing, but they miss the point. Although the letters I wrote were based largely on my own experiences, I am trying to lobby on behalf of all fans – not just me.
In the last correspondance from the club, they offered to phone me.
And they have.
Shelly from Customer services called after speaking with her management about some of the points I have raised.
In her introduction she apologies for a statement in a previous exchange where she had written “As a club and as a business we do not want to alienate you.” She says that she didn’t mean to impose the “we are a business” message, but the point of that statement was that it’s not in the interest of anyone at United to lose supporters.
I was encouraged by her to keep emailing my suggestions and concerns, and although she could not guarantee any action, she promised me that these issues are tabled. My particular concern at membership price increases was tabled, and in relaying the managements response (she’s just passing the message on after all) it’s clear that my issues were ducked.
e.g. Increases due to postal costs – yet we are about to go ticketless.
This was answered with “it’s referring to the fact that the packs are now more expensive to post”
And the increase in admin (even though most of the transactions are now electronic) was answered with “the 3% charge is applied if you book online or in person at the ticket office. (and yes, you are correct in thinking this does not answer my question)
I had also challenged the “renew early and get a discount” (a discounted renewal that cost more than last year). They answered that with “the discount offer is the same as always and if you renew early, you get last years price.” This is not true however. (seasons ending 2011 and 2012, membership prices were the same, so last year i did get a 10% discount for renewing early – not “same price as last year.” This is going in my next email to the club (via Shelly) which I’m composing at the moment)
Shelly told me about the behind the scenes stuff, the introduction of the new ticketline some years ago means that people can apply now 24/7 anytime, anywhere so demand has obviously increased. (oh by the way, she is the voice of the ticketline that tells you whether or not you have been successful in a ballot – which she says makes her probably the most hated person in the country at times)
She told me how she was lobbying for better transparancy on the United website – so they can tell fans what proportion of tickets went to season ticket holders, members, execs etc.
She shared with me the “hundreds if not thousands” of complaints that they received regarding the idea to move away fans to tier three. Yet as i pointed out, the website states that the club was “disappointed not to have achieved this yet”
Needless to say, I made the point that if the website had said “Due to the fans feedback, we are re-thinking” then THAT would go a long way to making us believe we are listened to. For sure, if I can’t influence actual action, I can at least request honesty and openness from the website at least. (Note the lack of transfer news and the completely omitted news about looking to float on the New york Stock exchange – again, something in my next letter to them)
So what now? I have been given her direct line, and her direct email address (but have been asked not to share this obviously) and she has told me to keep trying. If I want to raise any issues, she encourages me to do so. She closed with saying that reading my comment stating I am an ex-season ticket holder, ex-member, and i am no longer attending “breaks her heart”
I know it has broken mine
I’m not sure if I feel I have made progress or not. A friend of mine did point out that they have now phoned me (not the other way round) and I do now have access to someone who promises to raise any points I make.
Not quite a foot in the door, maybe a toenail though.
After our phone call, Shelly did send me an email. Although she concludes with the warming “we want our trophy back” (bit corporate and sickly I know), you can see that she has offered to try and get my concerns raised. (I’ve copied it below)
I’ll send you a copy of my next correspondance. And on behalf of all true football fans, I shan’t give up. Part of me does feel that I have lost United (or is it that they have lost me? ) Another part of me feels that now I have managed to get as far as a conversation, then I should double my efforts.
Whatever happens, I must thank you again for your continued support – and lets pray for change.
Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me earlier today. It is always much better to speak in person rather than by email as I think some things are easier to discuss personally.
Again, I totally understand your frustrations with some areas of how the Club is moving forward and although I was unable to make any promises or influence any significant changes, I can promise you that your feedback is always welcome whether it be positive or negative.
Regardless of whether you renew your Membership with us, I appreciate that you will always be a supporter of Manchester United as this is something that can never be switched off.
If you feel you have anything further to add or you simply want to use me as a sounding board – feel free to contact me by email or my direct line on ############ (I would appreciate if you keep my direct contact details confidential).
I won’t insult you by saying I can make things happen but I will make every effort to help where I can and forward appropriate suggestions to the relevant parties.
Hope you enjoy your holiday and know we can count on your support for Sir Alex and the team when they return in August ready for the 2012/2013 season. We want our trophy back!