BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
I have a history with the Silverbird family. Not a pleasant one. But history nonetheless. It started when I was contacted to conduct some research on Nigerian cinema on behalf of an outfit. I needed to gather data so I officially got in touch with Silverbird Cinemas, despite previous warning that they hardly listened to data requests. That they would arrogantly turn me down.
Apart from walking onto their premises to attend premieres or watch films, that was my first official contact with Silverbird. And it left a bad memory. Nothing does my head in as much as arrogance. So since then, I have tried to keep my distance. I still stayed loyal to their screens as I can count on one hand how many times I have seen films outside Silverbird. The Silverbird outlet at Alausa, Ikeja is the closest to where I stay, so going there to satisfy my cinema needs is a no-brainer.
But Silverbird stung me again last night. Only that I wasn’t alone in the embarrassment this time. Three of my friends were involved.
I had gone there to see the 7:15pm screening of the box office monster, A Trip to Jamaica. It wasn’t a romantic date. It was a film I didn’t want to be distracted from, so I went alone. Distraction did come though, as well over an hour into the screening, I received a call from a friend who was somewhere around Ikeja. And since I informed him I was seeing AY’s new film, he decided drive down to Ikeja City Mall. He would wait for the next screening at 9:20pm. I said “Cool!” and returned to the film I actually didn’t find funny despite the volcanos of laughter erupting frequently around me.
Ten minutes later, my friend texted me: I’m @ Sandwhich and Co just opposite the cinema, phone dead.
So after screening was done, I went to join him where he was. He informed me that two of our friends were on their way and they intended to see the film too. He told me how impressed he was with the customer service at Shawarma & Co. That despite the fact that they were closed for the day, their manager asked that his order was taken even though it was an “eat-in” order and that they should wait until he had finished his meal before they locked their doors. I was impressed and I joined him in commending them. We strolled over to Silverbird after his meal and he bought his ticket while informing the cashier that he was expecting two more people. Francis, the cashier, nodded.
Around ten minutes later, the two dudes had joined us and we all walked over to the counter only to be told rudely by Francis that HE had closed for the day. My friend and I reminded him that we informed him about this earlier and he acted like it was OK. Francis told us he didn’t care, that he was closed and that we could drop the ticket if it was compulsory that we had to see the film together. Or we should go talk to one man (obviously a security personnel) sitting at a corner. That other man wasn’t even of any help.
I went to Francis and calmly reminded him that we were CUSTOMERS, we were BUYING those tickets with OUR money, in this RECESSION and that even though we couldn’t stop him from closing for the day, a much more polite response would have sent us all home with smiles on our faces. He didn’t care, repeating, as rudely as ever, that he was closed and if I liked, I could keep on talking from now till kingdom come.
Under half an hour, my friend had witnessed the two sides of the Nigerian customer service coin. The good side at Shawarma & Co and the bad one at, unsurprisingly, Silverbird.
Silverbird, so much for your commonsense-screaming owner. Your staff, Francis Ntaah didn’t exhibit much common sense last night. AY Makun has made a lot of money from A Trip to Jamaica, but I doubt he will be pleased about the few extra thousands Francis made him lose last night.