Customer service in good health in the north and Scotland, but down south…
Customer service struggling down south
It was noticeable that last month’s Racecourse Association Showcase Awards were dominated by tracks in the north of England and Scotland, where nine of the 13 awards have gone.
What’s more, most of them involved customer or community involvement.
Down south, there are times when good customer service seems to struggle.
The weekend before last there was excellent sport at Ascot and many will have come away from the Berkshire track happy with their day at the races.
But, if you wanted to buy a drink, you may have been less satisfied.
Throughout the ground floor of the grandstand (pictured) many bars were closed and, of those that were open, there were long queues of people waiting to be served. On Friday I stood for just short of 10 minutes at the Nijinsky Bar to buy a pint of Guinness.
I watched a member of the bar team spending much of the time trying to find taps where the lager was working. When I finally got my pint, I was charged £6.
Coming to the last race I headed to the Frankel Bar on the fourth level to buy two pints of bitter (I was not going to pay £6 again for Guinness).
Along with other customers, we watched two members of the bar team trying to cope with the demand (the bar was to close after the last race). We also watched another member of the bar team counting the stock.
A manager appeared and I asked if she could do us a favour. Could her colleague stop counting unsold bottles and instead serve those of us who wanted to spend money.
After a short discussion, the bottle-counting stopped and customer service began. I wanted to pay by card but was told I’d have to go to the crowded, far end of the bar to complete the transaction.
Pointing out that there was a card reader in front of me, I was told the card readers being shut down along the bar as it was going to close after the last race. There were still more than 10 minutes before the last race.
Here were examples of customer service which were not in an award-winning category.
Later on, after racing, I was in the pub at Ascot station. Six or seven people, clearly underage, had been served. But, before they could start their drinks, a member of the security staff asked for their ID.
None could show that they were old enough to drink, but one proffered an Ascot wrist band. Whatever the band entitled the young racegoer to at the course, it wasn’t alcohol in the pub.
♦ Across the two-day meeting. Ascot’s racecard was advertising its upcoming events. These included the Clarence House Chase Raceday, sponsored by betting exchange Matchbook, and Ascot Chase Raceday sponsored by Betfair. According to the racecard, both days are on Saturday 15 January.
Lysaght leaving the BBC
On the day that Cornelius Lysaght was host presenter at the Horserace Writers and Photographers Derby Awards in London, he first confirmed that his dulcet tones as BBC Racing Correspondent were no longer required by the corporation.
Lysaght, 54, has worked for the BBC for 30 years, but will be ending his career with them next year. A BBC spokesperson said they were grateful to an ‘exceptional correspondent who has made an outstanding contribution’.
Following in the footsteps of Peter Bromley, Lysaght has fought his corner to maintain racing coverage on Radio 5 Live. But one can’t help feeling that the sport is going to be further squeezed.
There are now fewer racing correspondents in attendance at the Derby Awards as the print media with their services. Now, another name joins the list.
Heavy-handed to say the least
A member of an ownership syndicate, who was in Cheltenham’s parade ring before the cross-country, took a 51-second video, showing the parade ring and then fellow syndicate members.
Before the video finished, jockey Sam Twiston-Davies was filmed saying how their horse, Solstice Star, had been prepared for the race.
The syndicate, Foxtrot Racing, posted the video on social media. And this is where the clodhopping boots of Racecourse Media Group, who own the media rights at Cheltenham, stepped in.
They told Foxtrot, which is a commercial enterprie, to take down the video as it violated on-course filming rules.
Strictly speaking, it did. And there have to be rules to prevent copyright infringement. But to demand the video’s removal, less than a minute of it, achieved very little, apart from the syndicate member being unable to share the experience of racehorse ownership.
If RMG had said the video could remain by courtesy of the media rights owners, the syndicate member’s enjoyment of the day could have been widely seen, whilst viewers would have appreciated videos can’t be shown without approval.
Instead, RMG applied the letter of the law, and it was a mistake.
More Of Course columns
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