We have always enjoyed visiting the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and when visiting that city, always made it part of our vacation planning.
While on vacation last week, we visited for the first time in a number of years. We learned that a considerable number of changes had been made. Parking is now underground, and the physical structure is being renovated and modernized. A great deal of investment in the building was evident. Sadly, these improvements are not being matched by any dedication to customer service. In fact, I would say we left abused and insulted, vowing never to return.
Among the changes made by the museum is the charge of $11 per adult. While that took us by surprise, we willingly paid to visit the museum. Additional charges apply for various offerings, such as the OmniMax, the Coal Mine exhibit and the U-505 submarine. However, we found at least 50% of other exhibits were not in working order. While many exhibits are being renovated, the ones we visited were not undergoing renovation. They simply were not in working order. Value for the money does not appear to be a consideration.
Based on behavior from several of the museum staff, and our discouragement over exhibits not working, we requested an opportunity to speak with a supervisor or manager for the museum. We simply wanted to make a complaint to someone in management and let them know about our experience. We particularly wanted to share how museum staff were rude and abusive to us.
The manager who came to chat with us was nice enough, but as we talked, more museum staff gathered around us. Before long, we were surrounded with an additional 3 or 4 people all wearing red shirts and headsets, along with at least 3 security guards wearing pistols! I noted to the manager that this level of intimidation was inappropriate and a further example of disrespectful behavior to customers visiting the museum.
Voices had not been raised, no argument took place, we simply stated our complaints for her consideration. Therefore, the presence of these other people could only have been for intimidation value.
The museum staff could take a lesson from the good folks in the museum store, who were attentive, courteous and helpful. The museum store was the one shining example of how to treat customers appropriately! If the museum staff had all behaved coureously and with appropriate decorum, I wouldn't be writing this complaint today!
I have visited this museum since I was a little boy, and now that we live in Colorado, have always made the museum part of our vacation plans when in Chicago. That is going to change. We won't be back again, ever. Based on our experience, we will shun the museum and warn others about what happened to us.
Courtesy and good customer service doesn't cost anything at all, but the museum certainly does. The question is whether one may receive a reasonable value for the money they spend. In the case of the Museum of Science and Industry, the value for the money spent does not justify the price of admission. I for one am unwilling to pay good money to be treated discourteously and with rudeness and disrespect.
Now that the museum is competively priced with other venues in Chicago, we will spend our money where value and customer service are given higher priority! Perhaps next time we will take in a Cubs game!