Dear New York Philharmonic: Please Don't Call Me In The Middle Of Performances To Ask For Money

As I enjoyed the New York Philharmonic’s production of Tosca this past Tuesday, I received a solicitation call. From the New York Philharmonic.

My phone was thankfully on silent, so I didn’t notice the missed a call until the first intermission. When I got home, I looked up the strange number: (212) 875-0583. To my shock, here’s what I found:
The Philharmonic called again on Thursday. Here’s approximately how the conversation went.

New York Philharmonic: I’m calling to invite Mr. and Mrs. Greenberg-Berger to subscribe to our 2008-2009 season.
Me: Do you realize that you called on Tuesday when I was at the Philharmonic?
NYP: Really? Oh no. But your phone wasn’t on, right?
Me: No, it wasn’t. Because that would have been inconsiderate.

Concerts usually start at 7:30 or 8:00, but the Philharmonic makes solicitation calls until 8:30. Apparently, they don’t check purchase histories to make sure that their marks aren’t already in the audience. Nor do they care if people have repeatedly, expressly, asked not to be called.

This wasn’t even the Friends of the New York Philharmonic, with whom I’ve previously expressed my displeasure and frustration, but the Philharmonic itself.

I understand why the Philharmonic is a vicious fundraiser: renovating Avery Fischer Hall won’t be cheap, and the youngins just aren’t flocking to hear the orchestra’s stunning performances. I empathize. Really, I do. But please, again, I beg of you—stop calling me! Especially if I’m already there!


Edit Your Comment

  1. Marund says:

    Textbook case of ‘captive audience’, aye?

    But seriously, I doubt they check times or when you’ve purchased tickets, they likely just call whoever is on the list whenever it comes up

  2. NumberFiveIsAlive says:

    Oh la dee da Mr. Fancy royalty, watching your Phil Harmonic in your grand throne of the British Prime Minister with your fancy watch and new tuxedo and blue suede shoes. ‘Oh no! They are calling my diamond coated cell phone in the middle of a performance.’ Wish I had your problems buddy!

  3. Noiddog says:

    Why not change your ringtone to something that only plays when the New York Philharmonic calls? That way, the next time you are in the concert, during some near silent passage of Dvorak, you can also here the wafting sounds of “Wanksta” by 50 cent? That should get the point across.

    Oh, and the part of you looking like an jackoff for having your cell on during a performance? Don’t worry about it, you already have that part covered.

  4. Tikabelle says:

    @Dakine: @NumberFiveIsAlive: That’s ridiculous. Just because someone enjoys the Philharmonic – and perhaps saves their money to go instead of buying video games or going to the movies – doesn’t make them elitist rich. This is ironic and amusing, but there’s no call to get all snotty just because someone enjoys the symphony.

  5. Rachael says:

    Your ignorance is astounding. You have to be wealthy to enjoy such things? I love the arts but I’m by no means wealthy.

    I don’t know why I even bother reading the comments here as they’re invariably insulting within the first two or three remarks. Why on earth do you people read this blog if your main interest is in belittling those who post items?

  6. @MumbletyEmma: Yeah, for real, we attend all kinds of arts events just because WE LIKE THEM, not because we’re dripping in money. And there’s always a bunch of music-loving poor college kids in the cheap seats when we go to the symphony. So we spend our money on the symphony rather than on arena concerts; the ticket cost is comparable, how does that make us rich?

  7. one800higgins says:

    What website did they use to check that number??

  8. Carey Alexander says:

    Let’s not be too harsh with our fellow commenters, or say anything to discredit the common misconception that us bloggers are exceptionally wealthy.

    For those who care, the tickets were $12.

    I’m just frustrated that they won’t stop calling; and I don’t have catalogs to burn.

  9. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    Way to blame the OP, folks!

  10. Mr_Human says:

    @Dakine: sounds like _you_ need therapy

  11. Morticia says:

    I don’t understand why this was considered an issue at all. The phone was on silent, a good thing. Have a look, oh wow, what a coincidence, they rang me while I was at the concert. The End.

  12. brettt says:

    yeah, who cares when they call you?

  13. Mr_Human says:

    @brettt: You don’t care when telemarketers call you? Isn’t it a quintessential consumer issue. God, I’ve come to hate this blog, and yet I can’t seem to stop reading it.

  14. LJKelley says:

    I think some people are being a bit overly rude, but I do agree its a non story. That doesn’t mean we can’t over other stories. Not everything need to focus on the war, famine, or recessions.

    In that case, I think Gizmodo should stop, Consumerist should stop until all people are no longer hungry and all wars have stopped. Get a life!!!

  15. ImCrying says:

    @Dakine: @NumberFiveIsAlive: You people are terrible.

    A) Suffering is relative. So is annoyance.
    B) No matter his or her income level, it’s still poor form to contact someone during a performance.
    C) Do you know their financial history? Here, let me throw some conjecture your way:

    You have a computer and are posting on the internet. You have free time and make enough money to own a computer! You’re clearly wealthy!

  16. evslin says:

    That’s amusing. And some of you people are idiots.

  17. grenyas says:

    -Dude pays philharmonic for their services.

    -Homeboys at philharmonic are not satisfied, want more money and attempt to get it by ruining the service they provide.

    -Dude mentions the amusing irony as a jab at the insincerity of telemarketing, on a blog that deals with such subject matter.


  18. manicsoprano says:

    While I don’t work for the New York Philharmonic, I’m currently trying to sell symphony subscriptions (aka “season’s tickets”) for another symphony. The OP may have just purchased a single ticket for one concert, whereas the Philharmonic wanted him to agree to buy tickets for more concerts (often subscriptions work out to be cheaper than buying single tickets for 5 concerts).

    This is where my alliance with the Philharmonic ends.

    a) The call centre needs to check to see if there’s a concert going on and what concert the OP has purchased tickets for before calling him. They perhaps should call when the season has completed.

    b) The first words out of the telemarketer’s mouth when the OP expressed annoyance at being called during a concert should have been “I’m sorry”. Not “Really? Oh no. But your phone wasn’t on, right?”

    c) Where I come from, if a patron says “stop calling me”, we make a note on their mark sheet, and they are no longer called. End of story.

  19. NumberFiveIsAlive says:

    Come on guys, I thought it was pretty obvious my post was a joke and not intended as a serious disparagement. I guess the internet really is serious business.

  20. uricmu says:

    It’s a fact of life that telemarketers, solicitors, and direct mailers don’t really cross check their lists. It’s easier to just call or mail than to spend the effort figuring out who not to contact.

    For example, I routinely get recruitment mail from all branches of the military, and requests for donations from both Democrats and Republicans. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that I am not a US citizen, so I cannot join the army, nor can I contribute to a party or even registered to vote.

  21. Dick.Blake says:

    What site did you use to look-up the number?

  22. Sherryness says:

    I’m glad your phone was on ‘silent’. You’re very slic(k)!

  23. Sherryness says:

    @Dakine: If you enjoy symphony as I do, it is still possible to go occasionally if you don’t want front row, center and you make a few choices. Sure, you can go to the movies twice for the price of one symphony ticket. But if you truly enjoy the symphony, it’s really not much of a sacrifice to give up two trips to the movies and replace it with only great night at the symphony. Quality over quantity. I tend to do the same thing with eating out.

  24. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    If this happened to anyone of you, and you had a blog quota to hit, you’d be posting this bad boy too.

    I mean jeez, this site can’t be ALL about rat heads.

  25. Sherryness says:

    @GreatCaesarsGhost: Please, please… no more rat heads.

  26. 1317DC says:

    The Kennedy Center in DC has been notorious for solicitation calls. They also send a lot of spam, even though I made sure not to check the “e-mail solicitation” box on the website. It appears that every time I make an online ticket purchase, I get spammed.

  27. IHateScams says:

    omg I know…the Philharmonic calls so many times. They just keep calling and calling and calling. Even when I was in another country and when my phone goes to voicemail there it costs me $1.29 + tax + tax + tax + tax + tax…

    NY Phil has already cost me over $10!

  28. ComNavFdgPk says:

    The symphony orchestra is putting on productions of operas…with the Met and New York City Opera in the same complex???

  29. backbroken says:

    This happened to me once. Except it was a collections agency calling me while I was in court filing for bankruptcy. Same thing right?

    Ok, that didn’t really happen to me.

  30. DrGirlfriend says:

    Nowadays, any interest in culture brands you as an elitist Richie Rich. What we need to be doing is watching Two and a Half Men or Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader. Not only are those more down to earth forms of entertainment, but they’re on free network TV. Anything else is just offensive.

  31. DrGirlfriend says:

    “I mean jeez, this site can’t be ALL about rat heads.”

    But whyyyyyyyyyy???

  32. am84 says:

    @Dick.Blake: I don’t know what website he used, but I always use and do a reverse lookup.

  33. agency says:

    @NumberFiveIsAlive: @Dakine: I heard there was a different blog for those who want to learn how to maximize their welfare checks.

  34. @Carey: Your $12 could have fed and clothed a child in Africa for almost 2 weeks. Maybe next time you’ll think of the children instead of hobnobbing at the philharmonic.

    @am84, Dick.Blake, 1800higgins: Looks like that was Another good one is

  35. Televiper says:

    Sometimes I have to wonder how some people get through the day. Getting a call from the orchestra ticket office when you’re at a performance is an issue? It’s not something you shrug off?

  36. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Not sure this is a horribly offensive act, but wow, it’s hilarious!

  37. lihtox says:

    @manicsoprano: The first words out of the telemarketer’s mouth when the OP expressed annoyance at being called during a concert should have been “I’m sorry”. Not “Really? Oh no. But your phone wasn’t on, right?”

    Frankly I like the “Oh no” reaction better: it sounds spontaneous and sincere. Any telemarketer can be trained to say “I’m sorry” whenever the caller’s tone increases above some threshold. Hopefully the telemarketer did apologize later in the call.

  38. mitchelwb says:

    @grenyas: Before I post, I usually look to see if someone else has already voiced my opinion… I don’t usually figure I’m THAT creative or original. Your post wasn’t just my opinion, it was my opinion exactly, only worded better than I had planned. Thanks for that!

  39. Dobernala says:

    @Michael Belisle: You could have probably fed/clothed a couple or more children for the price of your ISP connection. Pony up!

  40. MelL says:

    Maybe I’m one of the only ones to pick up on the irony of being at an event where you are asked to turn off your cell phones in the name of courtesy for the performance, only to be called by the organization performing *while* they are performing.

    Call me silly, but maybe, just maybe they should not call during their performance times. It is not difficult to conceive of those on their list of people having attended past performances being *at* present performance.

  41. Lyrai says:

    @grenyas: I laughed so very hard.

  42. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @mitchelwb: Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity…I hate when I say something in the first few comments and then I see ten people say the exact same thing over the next couple of hours.

  43. B says:

    @NumberFiveIsAlive: We’re taking your comment very seriously.

  44. Ben Clayton says:

    @grenyas: Probably the best put comment on this entire post. Thank you.

  45. misterchinaski says:

    so do you’s think the ny philhar should keep a database of all the dates and times a person will be at their performances just to avoid maybe perhaps calling to solicit funds at the wrong time? what if the fbi or cia or whoever gets ahold of that list? isn’t that an invasion of their privacy? what if they pay cash because they don’t have credit cards? (because they are as evil as best buy) will they have to fill out a form or something listing their name and phone number?

  46. Shadowman615 says:

    @Dakine: Oh jesus, shut up already. So what if there are bigger problems in the world? If the OP was attending soldiers’ funerals and complaining about this to the grieving relatives, that would be a slap in the face. Musing about it on a blog is not. Nobody was claiming this was a huge tragedy, just a minor annoyance.

  47. MelL says:

    @Shadowman615: Exactly. If we were to take that position, this site would have no right to exist, because I’m sure wars are of far greater import than what gets posted on the Consumerist.

  48. MisterE87 says:

    @evslin: couldn’t have said it better myself.

  49. Angryrider says:

    Hilarious. Thankfully that solicitor’s boss didn’t find about this whole fiasco or heads would’ve rolled.

    Learning bad. Learning leads to elitism. Elitg bad. When see them delite them.

  50. nice_chef says:

    the site he used to look up the number is [] – i also like

  51. ElizabethD says:

    LOL — the word “philharmonic” triggers class warfare on Consumerist!

    Hey, all you, reverse snobs, go to China and join the Cultural Revolution. Oh wait — too late for that.

  52. EtherealStrife says:

    @NumberFiveIsAlive: I loled

    In all seriousness this seems like a nonissue. The same annoying crap happens when you donate to a charity. Or give blood. Or give money to hobos.

  53. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Let’s get to the real issue here:

    New York Philharmonic: I’m calling to invite Mr. and Mrs. Greenberg-Berger to subscribe to our 2008-2009 season.

    With that careless slip, single Consumerist chicks everywhere are crushed at the thought that (sigh) there’s already a “Mrs. Greenberg-Berger.” ;-)

  54. Silversmok3 says:

    Just because someone goes to a philharmonic doesnt make them Mr. Moneybags.

    AS a matter of fact the local Chicago Concert Hall ( Ravinia) has free concerts all the time. Its arts foundation, so they can afford to provide the arts without resorting to telemarketing.

    I challenge anyone to see an orchestra perform live. You might be shocked out of your commerical-music shell .

  55. TangDrinker says:

    I suggest the OP send a letter to the Friends group, especially since, according to their own website, tickets only cover half the cost of the operating expenses.

    They do not want to antagonize their donors. I know they were originally calling to get him to purchase a subscription, but that’s often the way they entice members to give a little more. If the call center isn’t aware of performance dates, it could definitely generate ill will.

    And for those of you who think this is a rich guy only issue, it’s not. It’s more of a Grown Up issue. Just because you can’t afford to donate to a cultural organization (or alumna association) right now does not mean it shouldn’t be something you should just ignore.

    Friends of the Philharmonic
    Avery Fisher Hall
    10 Lincoln Center Plaza
    New York, NY 10023-6970
    Telephone: (212) 875-5381
    Fax: (212) 875-5716

  56. stuny says:

    Now if the OP was homeless and waiting on line at the soup kitchen and the Philharmonic called for donations, THAT would be funny!

    Even funnier if she had that diamond-encrusted phone NumberFiveIsAlive mentioned.

  57. @misterchinaski: Uh, no, maybe they should just keep a list of PHILHARMONIC CONCERTS and not call the ticket-buyers/members DURING THOSE.

    I bet they could even get a list of performances from the conductor. SOMEONE must have one, SOMEWHERE.

  58. rjgnyc says:

    This is more a “haha” situation than an actual complaint against a corporation.

  59. hatrack says:

    Is it really that much more trivial than some of the other things people get wound up about on here? If it happened to me my reaction probably would have been: “bloody typical!!”

  60. Angiol says:

    @Noiddog: Did you read the part in the story where his phone was on silent mode?

  61. @Dobernala: Oh you’re right! My internet connection could feed and clothe a child perpetually.

  62. D-Bo says:

    @Dakine: You do realize the focus of the blog you’re reading?

  63. D-Bo says:

    @NumberFiveIsAlive: With the number of asshats that comment there’s no way to tell… Perhaps and anti-inflammatory disclaimer next time.

  64. houston2882 says:

    bet the issue will eventually lead to:
    1. he bought the phone at WAL-MART
    2. GEORGE BUSH was the telemarketer

  65. waitaminute says:

    Why did you give NY Philharmonic your mobile phone number? Perhaps it’s better for you to give them only the number through which you manage your many philanthropic activities, n’est pas?

  66. Chris Walters says:

    @NumberFiveIsAlive: I thought your post was funny, indeed. I read it in a Homer Simpson dancing-around-wagging-his-hands voice for added faux-mockery humor.

    @Dakine: I hope you’re young, because what you wrote is among the stupidest comments I’ve read on the Consumerist since I started posting for it. If you’re young, at least you can claim naivete. (“My parents didn’t like classical music and/or the performing arts so I don’t either!”) I hate that you confuse live music with elitism, and that you’ve apparently bought into the idea that non-pop-culture culture is inherently exclusionary. In reality, it’s the opposite—you’re exclusionary. Symphonies would love to have you come listen to them play and they find cheap-ass ways to offer tickets all the time all over the country. Clearly the problem here is you can’t appreciate the music, which is sad. But it’s sad for you, not for the OP.

  67. EtherealStrife says:

    @houston2882: George [Dubya] Bush wasn’t the telemarketer, but he was on the line.

  68. AddisonMavenue says:

    shoulda known to call during the intermission….duh

  69. um…. I love tosca!

  70. ImCrying says:

    After reading this and the stroller post, it’s easy to see the Consumerist readers hate anybody who makes more than 35k a year and are probably posting ideas on the internet how those people owe them money a-la “windfall profit taxes” and the like.

  71. MeOhMy says:

    Have I mentioned that we are long overdue for a huge execution of consumerist commenters?

    I guess I’m the only one got a chuckle out of the front office calling an existing patron…in the middle of a performance.

  72. Gopher bond says:

    Isn’t that named after Phil the bum?

    “He gave a lot of money to the New York Harmonic.”

    “You mean the Philharmonic.”

    “Yeah, NOW.”

  73. Dakine says:

    t’s tgh fr m t fnd sympthy fr th trls nd trbltns f th dly lf f rch ppl wth tm ∓ mny t brn.

    h n… y gt phn cll whl y wr t th symphny? Wht n trg! Wht’s nxt, ncmng ml msgs whl y njy yr Crstl n th prvt ycht? Myb y shld gv yr blckbrry t yr prsnl ssstnt drng th nxt prfrmnc.

  74. plasticredtophat says:

    ww, ths rlly snt nws t ll..

  75. ludwigk says:

    T P, Y shld bth lglly chng yr srnm t “Grnbrgr”. vrybdy wns. Y sv tn f tm whn wrtng chqs r fllng t frms. Y’r wlcm.

  76. nn-stry. b-h.

  77. Dakine says:

    @Mmbltymm: t’s nt bt blttlng nyn, bt t tm whn th Rd Crss s flt brk, gs s t rcrd hgh, nmplymnt s lp-frggng, th rl stt mrkt s brnng t f cntrl, frclsrs r ncrsng xpnntlly, sldrs r bng klld whl w spk, tc…. t’s bt f slp n th fc t mst ppl whn smn strts btchng bt gttng phn cll drng th symphny, whl th phn ws slncd nd h nvr vn knw bt t ntl ltr.

    Hr’s thght: Try nt tkng yr cll phn t th symphny n th frst plc.

    d plgz f blttld nyns dp ss. cn ndrstnd hw psttng mssd tlmrktr cll cn b. Prbbly sm pst-trmtc thrpy s n rdr.

  78. WolframJillion says:

    As a caller for a non-profit performing arts organization—not the Philharmonic—there’s probably a few reasons why this slipped through.

    I’m guessing the OP is not a subscriber to the Philharmonic, so the number may have come from a lead list from another arts organization, or even from a previous performance. It’s very unlikely that their calling system is tied with their ticketing system, so it was simply chance that the number came up while the poster was at a performance.

    Even if the information was available that the poster was attending the performance, human error could also have had it happen. I’ve called numbers for people who attend our performances on the night they attend—and we call from individual lead sheets, but fortunately only before showtime. None have picked up in four years, except the rare person who exchanged.

    In summary: computer error or human error. At least you were courteous enough to have your phone on silent.