I was on the board for the Children’s Museum in Carson City when we lived up there and have been to about a dozen similar museums all over the country over the years. So I’m a big fan overall. And I’ve heard nothing but great things about the new Las Vegas Children’s Museum that re-opened a month ago, so we decided to check it out yesterday.
My first indication that this trip might not go so well was when I pulled into the parking garage and noticed that a number of available primo parking spots weren’t reserved for handicapped people, but for “Low Emitting Vehicles.”
As if I was going to park on the third floor just so some sanctimonious Prius owner could park right next to the entrance.
The new museum is, indeed, a beautiful facility and I signed us up for an annual family membership. It’s laid out on three separate floors and the kids took off up the steps and in every which direction to explore while I wandered up to the second floor to go through what was really a thoroughly interesting temporary historical exhibit honoring George Washington.
Next thing I know, I’m being paged to come to the front desk. We hadn’t even been there for much more than an hour.
Long story short, various staff proceeded to scold me for my three kids being in the museum unaccompanied. I felt compelled to point out the obvious; that they weren’t unaccompanied, that I was standing right there in front of them.
At which point I was informed that their definition of “accompanied” means I have to be hovering over them the entire time…which also means all three kids have to do the exact same thing on the exact same floor at the exact same time. Yeah, right. Like that was gonna happen.
So my next question: Were my kids misbehaving? ‘Cause if they were, I assured the staffers I would give them a good beating when we got home, send them to bed without dinner and ground them for life!
No, the kids weren’t misbehaving, I was informed. They were simply having fun without being tethered directly to their father.
I was then further informed that if we wanted to stay, I was going to have to chase them up and down three separate floors and make sure I kept them herded like some kind of parental sheep dog.
Now, if my kids were toddlers…that’d be one thing. But 6, 11 and 13?
This policy is just stupid…and my tolerance for stupidity has greatly diminished with my advancing age.
And if this stupid policy was ever in place at the old location it sure as heck was never enforced. The kids and I have ALWAYS split up once we got inside. CJ would head right to the water exhibit on the first floor (go figure!). Kristen would head for the science exhibit on the second floor. And Jenna would head to the hurricane machine.
Me? I usually looked for and found the most comfortable chair available, sat down and read a book unless the kids came and asked me to come see something or do something with them.
But back to the story.
This is their operation and they get to set the rules. I accept that. On the other hand, I have the option of saying I think the rules are stupid and choose not to patronize the place. So I simply asked for a refund of the annual membership I had just paid for an hour earlier and we’d be on our way.
Sorry, Charlie. Memberships are non-refundable, I was informed.
At which point my blood began to really start to boil…but I calmly suggested to the staffer that maybe now might be a good idea for her to double-check with a supervisor.
In the end, they charged me a full day’s visit for just over an hour of “fun” and refunded the difference of my membership.
The only thing stupider than the stupid policy itself was how stupidly they handled the situation. It all could have easily been handled so much better and more professionally and to the point that I would have remained a satisfied customer.
Instead, they succeeded in turning a big fan of the Children’s Museum into someone who will now take every opportunity to tell everyone I come in contact with just how stupid their stupid policies are.
You know, like I’m doing right now…
Ending note: Upon reaching our carbon-fueled vehicle in “Low Emitting Vehicle” spot in the parking garage, we couldn’t help but notice the Prius that had parked next to us with its back bumper covered in Barack Obama and Dina Titus stickers!