Letter: We love the Wheeler, but … | AspenTimes.com

Letter: We love the Wheeler, but …

We love the Wheeler, but …

The Wheeler Opera House is a place of culture, and we are lucky to have such a varied palette of first-rate events brought to a historical setting of great beauty. Having said that, the Wheeler’s bureaucracy can be exasperating.

My rant today is focused on the protocol we need to follow to purchase access to Wheeler Opera House events if we decide to do so electronically. Tickets are sold at http://www.aspenshowtix.com, which the Wheeler proudly calls “our only online ticketing site.” Now, you’d think that if you spent 10 minutes of your time buying a ticket online, you’d earn the gratitude of the Wheeler management. After all, you help the establishment reduce the discouraging lineups at the ticket counter, cut back on staff time and print out your own ticket. Even better, the Wheeler gets to advertise its future offerings without spending a penny. Alas, business sense and logic don’t seem to be part of the Wheeler’s mindset.

First, there is a service fee to buy a ticket online. The website explains that “box office purchases made in person save you a $5 delivery method fee.” Isn’t that amazing — here is the city that outlawed plastic bags encouraging us to make a trip to the Wheeler box office in order to purchase a ticket. Management must be aware that for most of us, that means using our cars. Alternatively, we can choose to do the ecologically right thing by visiting the Wheeler website, but if we do that we’re fined $5.

Nor does it end there. The AspenShowTix.com website is poorly designed and badly run. Last week, when I attempted to make an online purchase, the site would not let me buy tickets to one event and then continue on to buy tickets for another performance without losing some of the contents in my shopping cart. Later that day, frustrated by this and numerous previous attempts to use AspenShowTix.com, I drove to Aspen to make my purchase the old-fashioned way and express my feelings to the box-office staff. I was politely told that complaints like mine, centering on the $5 handling fee and the website’s poor functionality, were quite common. “We agree with you,” I was told, “but unfortunately it’s not us, but the city of Aspen, that makes these decisions.”

Let me repeat what I said at the onset: The Wheeler is a treasure that brings immense benefits to those who live in, or visit, the Aspen Valley. What a shame that the organization that manages to attract so many world-class events cannot project professionalism to some of the simpler operational challenges. If it’s true that the city meddles in policies concerning things like processing fees and who should manage the website, that’s all the more lamentable.

Peter Cavelti

Snowmass Village

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