Sunday, February 27, 2011

Compromised Safety at the Universal Studios Singapore Galactica Rollercoaster

I had the most unfortunate incident at Universal Studios Singapore yesterday. I have written to all the major publications here in Singapore, including NBC Universal and Universal Studios Orlando in the US.

As of today, 27 Feb, the Universal Studios Orlando responded to my email and forwarded my concern to US Singapore. Just a few minutes ago, someone from US Singapore called to say they received my letter from US Orlando and ensured they would address the issue (though at this point I don't know what exact measures will be done as I'm sure it's their standard protocol to apologise and tell customers that they will do something about it).

I will update this blog as soon as I hear news from the press or US Singapore management. Below is the letter I had sent out:

26 Feb 2011

To Whom It May Concern,

I hope this letter reaches you well. I am writing you regarding an incident that occured today (26 Feb 11) at the Universal Studios Galactica – in particular the Cylon rollercoaster, which compromised the safety of not only myself but the other passengers of the ride, as well.

Below are the incidents that transpired and I will relay them in a very factual manner as how they occured:

10.30am (approx) – We reached USS and immediately went to Cylon rollercoaster. The “greeter” (the person you see prior to entering the ride's premises) lets me in without asking me to try out the test seat (At that point I wasn't aware that such test seats were available, I only found out about this after I had spoken to Customer Services later in the day after my complaint. The test seats are meant to test and show an indicator if a person's dimensions can fit the seat and the shoulder bracket). After around 15 mins of falling in line, we reached the platform. The “loader” (person who assists passengers with their shoulder safety brackets) finds it hard to lock my bracket and initially mentions I can't proceed with the ride but with a few more “forceful” pushes he managed to lock it.

Immediately after the Cylon ride, I also managed to ride the “Human” ride (the Galactica has 2 dueling rollercoasters). Again, the greeter did not ask me to try out the test seat. But this time around, the loader had no problems locking my seat bracket.

Later, I also managed to ride “The Mummy”. Again, no greeter had asked me to try out the test seat. Also, no issues with the loader locking my seat bracket (I have already been on this ride during the 2 previous times I have been in USS with no problems whatsoever). At the same time I took the ride, there was actually another overweight man behind me who was asked to step out as they couldn't lock the seat bracket.

Now the problem starts when I attempted to ride the Cylon again later in the day around 3:20pm (approx). This time around, the greeter does ask me to try out the test seat. However, I mentioned I have already been on the ride earlier in the morning so then she let's me go through. After around 1hr+ of falling in line, we reached the platform. Again, the loader (a different loader from earlier in the morning) has trouble locking my seat and says I can't proceed with the ride. Now I mentioned I was able to ride earlier and I asked to move to the seat on my right (my original seat in the morning) to try again but it really wouldn't lock – though I noticed he wasn't pushing the bracket as forcefully as the loader earlier in the morning. I stepped out very embarrassed and humiliated (now some people may say I am overreacting, but rejection is a big issue to horizontally-challenged people like me, especially in front of a big crowd of people). Later I found out through my friend who took the same ride, that there was also another overweight guy who asked to step out after me.

Around 3.40 pm (approx) I went to the Customer Service Counter to try and speak with the manager. I initially managed to speak to a lady at the counter to relay my story and then to the Guest Services Lead, Iryanto Amin. Now here are my issues:
  1. If my “body dimensions” weren't really meant to ride the Cylon then how was I able to ride the 1st time? Is it because the 1st loader was more forceful in pushing my bracket and the 2nd loader wasn't trying hard enough? Or is it because the 1st loader shouldn't have forcefully pushed my bracket in the first place and I wasn't really suitable for the ride?
  2. If you noticed I emphasized on the “greeter” in my narration above and this is because during my conversation with Iryanto, he asked me if any of the greeters asked me to try out the test seats first. If it were the greeter's duties to filter out the overweight passengers, then why weren't they performing this task? Why will you subject the overweight people to embarrassment and humiliation in front of other people and make them fall in line for so long if they weren't suitable to ride in the 1st place? More so risk their safety if they weren't meant to be on the ride in the 1st place?
  3. If there are such weight or body measurement restrictions then why is this not found on the website or the park guide they give you upon entering the park? (I did check the website and park guide prior to going to USS)
I admit my feelings and ego were hurt. It was probably one of the lowest points in my life despite the fact that I am used to the daily challenges of discrimination and judgment being a fat person. I'm sure some people who hear about my story will laugh at me and say here's a fat person who got offended and just wants to complain, but my main issue here is my safety and the other passengers' safety were compromised. I could have died on that ride if I wasn't meant to be on it. Definitely, somewhere along the way the rules were not enforced.

When I spoke to Iryanto I was asking for a refund as I felt there have been lapses in their enforcement of rules and I had no mood at all to go on any ride whatsoever. Furthermore, my friend and my cousin who were with me also weren't able to enjoy the park anymore as they had to accompany me to the customer service office. We were asked to wait in a room for an hour while he was trying to sort things out with the manager (Kerene Goh, Area Manager, who never attended to us), as he claimed. During this waiting period, he had offered me 3 times an express pass on any ride as compensation and insisted they don't do refunds. Was he kidding me? Did he really think I would go for such a lame form of compensation? He even implicated that the 1st time I rode Cylon it was early in the morning and after taking my lunch I could have expanded. SERIOUSLY??! Is this the kind of training that these officers are given to address agitated customers?? In the end I settled for 3 tickets with a limited day pass (only 3-7pm) and 4 month expiry.

I am very disappointed with the manner they handled my complaint. But I am even more disappointed with the lapse of enforcement of rules in the park. To think that the Galactica has been closed for almost a year due to an earlier incident where the seat flew open. I would think at this point they would be extremely cautious and mindful when it comes to ensuring passengers' safety but obviously this is not what I witnessed today.

I am not asking for any pity or higher form of compensation. My wish is that the management will carefully consider my story and thoroughly check their procedures and training of employees. I hope that with my story no other fat person will be embarrassed and humiliated and more so, no life will be taken because of irresponsible neglect on the part of their employees and management.

Christian Abellaneda


Anonymous said...

Moral of this story:
Don't be fat

Shan Abellaneda said...

Hi anonymous!

Thank u for ur very wise and enlightening comment. Next time, i wish you had the balls to leave ur name so i can look for u and learn from ur wisdom. God bless you.

Ellen said...

If u'd like ppl to be considerate to your size and weight, please also be considerate to the safety of others and yrself.

The high road can be to graciously accept the rejection, rather then insisting on your way.

Anonymous said...

You are just bitter at not being able to fit into the ride in the afternoon causing great embarrassment to yourself. The rest about safety blah blah blah is just hogwash.

Taking it out on the poor staff. Who knows what you have eaten for lunch to expand that much?

Eat less, and exercise more and you would be able to fit into all kinds of seats easily. It isn't exactly rocket science.

Shan Abellaneda said...

ellem: you are entitled to your own opinion and i respect you for that

anonymous: again another one with no balls. you're probably the staff? poor you.

Lucian said...

Would you have felt better if they had rejected you from riding all of the rides you had earlier in the morning?

Anonymous said...

Go lose some weight. Else get the F out of Singapore if you're not happy.

Anonymous said...

be careful with what u are commenting and posting, a notorious forum is already tracking this blog.

Shan Abellaneda said...

lucian: yes

Shan Abellaneda said...

anonymous: another coward. id love to get out of singapore if u can carry my fat ass.

Shan Abellaneda said...

anonymous: and who the hell are u scaring? shudnt u be the one to be afraid with all ur racist comments?

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