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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » What do you do about an erroneous checker report? (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: What do you do about an erroneous checker report?
Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-25-2012 09:09 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I got an email from this certain film company today saying that for one of our shows last month, we had (according to their checker) 184 patrons, and we only reported 122.

I was here that night (and every night of that movie) and I know we did NOT have that kind of crowd. In fact we wouldn't ever sell that many seats....we usually stop at about 170. We have 197 seats, so 184 would have been a seriously full house.

We use RTS so we have all the applicable reports. We didn't have some kid selling tickets...my wife and I were in the boxoffice that night. She was selling, I was handing out 3-D glasses.

They have sent us a bill for $400-plus and of course are saying if we don't pay it, they will withhold further films. To me, paying it would be an admission of guilt.

We don't have videotape of the people coming in, so how can I defend against this? The only thing I can think of is our concession per-cap, which would bear out the fact that we didn't have that many people. (I haven't checked that yet but am going to.)

I've never had this situation in my 33 years in the business. How does a person handle it?

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 06-25-2012 11:14 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Do what you're already doing... make sure you have all the facts you can gather and make sure they support your case. Definitely do not pay. Can you contact them tomorrow and say "Umm... hey?" They cannot guarantee the accuracy of the checker. The checker is only human and probably counted the same row a few times or counted one or two rows and then multiplied that by how many rows they thought were filled, not counting empty seats and the such.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 06-26-2012 01:24 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Assuming you have a computer that can be used as double-duty, for less than $400 you can setup an inexpensive IP camera at the front door and record on motion with some inexpensive software. Then you can tell the studio their checker was absolutely wrong and you are using the money they are trying to scam out of you to install a camera for future proof if such a thing happens in the future. [Razz]

Regardless whatever you do, hold your ground. You didn't do anything wrong.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12814
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 06-26-2012 06:10 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For all you know, the checker gets paid based on the number of overages they find and are trying to profit from "catching" you. Sounds very shady.

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Dennis Benjamin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1445
From: Denton, MD
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 06-26-2012 07:49 AM      Profile for Dennis Benjamin   Author's Homepage   Email Dennis Benjamin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've dealt with hundreds of 'checkers' in my 22 years. Usually they aren't allowed in the building without a letter from the film company they represent. I guess this would have been a 'secret' shop?

I wouldn't put up with this nonsense. How do they prove that the count was correct? I'd want the checker's name and information - as I would run a background check on that person. I haven't dealt with any checkers this year (yet) - but nowadays the individuals who are doing the 'checking' are questionable in character. Seriously.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2253
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 06-26-2012 08:22 AM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've had checkers re-counting each person who went out to use the restroom or concessions. Fortunately, I caught on before any reports were filed and was able to point out the error of their method.

If all else fails, ask them to contact the checker to verify how full the auditorium was when they counted. There's a huge difference between 2/3 full and sold out.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6539
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-26-2012 08:58 AM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In a full auditorium, with customers moving around, it's hard to count heads. When it gets that full, I often count the EMPTY seats instead of the full ones then do the math.

With a claimed attendance of 184 in a 197 seat auditorium, there would have been only 13 empty seats. As you say, that would have been a pretty darned full auditorium. Almost a "hard" sell-out.

However, with an actual attendance of 122 in a 197 seat auditorium, there would have been 75 empty seats. Even in a "pretty full" house, a difference of nearly six times the number of empty seats would have been apparent.

I think it is this information that you can use to challenge the checker's report.

As others would say, it is the checker who should be under scrutiny. Not you. Not the film company. The checker. Since both of you have a vested interest in making sure the checker's reports are accurate, I don't think it would be hard to bring the film company to your side so that both of you are scrutinizing the data.

When you talk to the company, hold back on the math at the beginning. Just ask them to have the checker report on "how full" the house was. Ask them HOW they counted and whether they noted how many empty seats they saw.

The checker naturally "won't remember" but you could get them to "characterize" the "fullness" of the house.

This is where you can nail the guy. If he says that he saw more than a handful of empty seats, it will be clear that his report was wrong. Combine that with a background check on the guy. See if you can get the company to scrutinize any of his other reports too. If this guy has a history of sketchy reporting, that's damning.

Then, at the end, drop the math in their lap. If the guy says something like, "There were 50 or 60 empty seats," it is clear that his numbers CAN'T add up. If he says there were that many empty seats in the house, there COULDN'T have been the number of people in the house as he said. They wouldn't fit. The house only holds 197.

If there were 50 empty seats in a house with 184 customers, that would have brought the seat count up to 234 which is way more than are actually in the house.

In any case, just say that it would be impossible for the house to have held the number of people that the checker claims.

If the company has (inadvertently [Wink] ) hired checkers who are not truthful or who can't count, they ought be "very concerned." Wouldn't you think? [Wink]

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4441
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 06-26-2012 09:42 AM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The "checkers" that I have seen are so LOW that sometimes they had to have the manager fill out their report for them. I have personally been unsure if the real checker sent his cousin.

You are right to feel as you do. I would send ONE certified letter stating the facts. No other contact. If they don't trust you, avoid doing business in the future. You would not put up with this on any other business dealing. Don't allow yourself to be put on the defensive. No good for you; no good for them. Louis

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-26-2012 02:38 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for all the responses. My wife also thought maybe the checker thought he was doing is a "favor" by making us "look good" by reporting a bigger crowd than we really had.

I sent a letter off to the distrib today, will report back what happens.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2253
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 06-26-2012 03:55 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Obviously we can't do anything about blind checkers, but I have refused most regular checkers because we've had so many bad ones. I've had checkers cuss me out for refusing to sign a blank report. I've had checkers send their kids, I've had checkers bring their kids to camp out at the theatre all day.

When we do get a checker, they have to check in with the manager for each show, or I won't even give them numbers for that show.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-26-2012 03:56 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This was indeed a "blind" checker. (In more ways than one, apparently.)

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Mike Frese
Master Film Handler

Posts: 465
From: Holts Summit, MO
Registered: Jun 2007


 - posted 06-26-2012 07:42 PM      Profile for Mike Frese   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Frese   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A good reason to do more than one show a day!

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-26-2012 08:45 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
?? What difference could that have made?

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5305
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 06-26-2012 09:40 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Like Brad says, cheap infrared cam from an outfit like Smarthome. You need it only to take maybe 5 or 6 stills throught the show aimed at the seating area from a high point, with a time stamp so that you can email the distrib the stills showing the number of people in seats.

At this juncture you can simply point to your unblemished record and claim the checker was just wrong.

Long ago in rural Texas, my first boss, Mr. Schulman, explained checkers to me, which I had never heard of. He went into detail of how you are pretty much at the mercy of some halfwit's abilty to count and click a counter at the same time. After he finished, he thought for a moment then quiped, "All in all, about the best thing to do is just toss em in the potato cellar and forget about em."

He then had to explain to me what a potato celler was.

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Michael Putlack
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 187
From: Fort Collins, Colorado
Registered: Sep 2011


 - posted 06-27-2012 02:33 AM      Profile for Michael Putlack   Author's Homepage   Email Michael Putlack   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm very interested to see how this one plays out...

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