Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bombers office pours cold water on fan

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Bomber super-fan Lorraine Mocarski has cheered for her team, "rain or shine," for 25 years, but last game she got poured on in a different way.

Poured on literally by a cloudburst as her purse was being searched at Gate 5. And poured on figuratively by a security guard who appears to have had an outburst of his own.

It was the final insult in a Bomber season that's taken the old-time fun out of going to the game for her.

Lorraine was so angry about how she was treated at Gate 5, she emailed a letter of complaint to the front office.

"At Friday's game, Aug. 3, 2012," she wrote, "I experienced what I consider the ultimate insult as a Blue Bomber supporter."

Lorraine explained she was caught in a torrential downpour as she stopped at a table outside Gate 5 to have her purse searched for anything from booze to bottled water. Lorraine's the designated driver, and the only water she had in her purse was from the rain that drenched it and her.

By halftime, Lorraine was so cold and uncomfortable, she decided to do something she says she never does. Leave early.

It was as she was departing that Lorraine said she made a comment "not yelling, not angry" to a security guard and a volunteer.

"You should consider bringing in the tables for security checks when there is a torrential downpour outside," is how she recalled it.

The response, she said, was these belligerent words: "Maybe you shouldn't come back then."

I guess nine consecutive sellouts can go to a guy's head. And maybe the Bombers front office, too.

Understandably, Lorraine was stunned by the comment.

She asked for his name.

"Mike at Gate 5," he responded.

She asked who his boss was.

"Bomber management," he replied.

"Nine sold-out games and that's all I get. Not even, 'I'm sorry you got wet; we're not allowed to bring the tables in. I'll bring your issue to the attention of the Bomber management.' Nothing."

Lorraine went on to call the Bomber season a "gong show," when she probably meant cowbell show. From the fiasco with the new stadium not being ready this season, to season-ticket holders who aren't happy with how seats were allotted for Investors Group Field, to that absurd cowbell controversy and of course the security searches inspired by possible booze smuggling. Which brought Lorraine, the designated driver, to a related question.

"Has anyone in the Bomber organization ever tried a cup of coffee from the concession stand at the stadium?"

Later, Lorraine would tell me she can't even buy a Tim Hortons coffee at the stadium, much less bring one in, even though the company is a platinum partner of the Bombers.

But it was the treatment by Mike at Gate 5 -- which she believes is indicative of deep problems in the front office -- that prompted her complaint to the Bombers.

"I would like an apology from 'Mike at Gate 5,' " she told the club, "and a descriptor of how he would handle this type of situation differently next time."

Lorraine did receive a phone call from the Bombers' customer service department, but the crux of the complaint was turned over to the team's head of security, Kelly Keith.

"Mike did state something to the effect of 'maybe you shouldn't come back again,' " Keith conceded in an email to Lorraine, "but states that he added the words 'tonight.' "

Tonight?

Lorraine was on her way out.

Bomber policy wouldn't have let her back in anyway. He knew it and she knew it.

Keith went on to suggest Mike reacted to "the way you were speaking to the volunteer and him... I have to take Mike at his word that he did not mean it to come across as I understand you took it."

Keith did make one concession.

"On the other hand, your comment on taking the tables inside did not fall on deaf ears."

Keith went on to apologize "for how your experience played out last game."

But it was Mike, not his boss, she wanted to hear an apology from.

Mike's unfriendly comment isn't going to keep Lorraine away.

But if the Bombers can't at least get customer service right -- the one thing they should be able to control during a season of brutal blunders and losing games -- eventually Lorraine and other fans like her might start taking the Bomber security guy's advice.

And not come back.

Meanwhile, don't try telling Lorraine or me that everything will be fine and fun again when the new stadium is finally finished next year. Solving this problem isn't about a change of venue, it's about a change of attitude.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 16, 2012 B1

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