Members Kew

(5 Posts)
PeopleBaffleMe Wed 06-Dec-17 15:14:00

I am not sure if this post is appropriate for MN, however I’m attempting to reach out to those who have a conscience. This is a long thread - thank you for your patience.

A friend of mine works at Kew Gardens, (they) do not know I am writing this - but felt to after multiple conversations.

This is NOT against Kew - if anything I am sticking up for them. My friend loves (their) job.

This is a message for those who are ‘Friends of Kew’ aka ‘Members’. There are thousands of members and their membership and donations are highly appreciated as it goes towards the upkeep of the gardens, the science conservation and so on and so forth.

The members receive a huge range of benefits throughout the year. The main one being that their annual membership allows them free entry into the gardens 363 days in the year (Kew is closed Christmas eve and Christmas day.)

Other benefits includes:
- 10% Discount in shops and restaurants
- Priority booking for events
- Exclusive behind-the-scenes events
- Entry into partner gardens
- More details here:

As well as a quick google of "Kew Gardens” tells you that Kew has been ‘cash-strapped’ the past few years, so rely heavily on grants and donations. Which is why - more and more ‘separate’ events have popped up - to attract even more visitors, such as: Kew the Music, Kew the Movies & the popular Christmas at Kew. Day-entry tickets prices have gone up also over the years - and as they start to get ready for the grand re-opening of the Temperate house in Spring 2018, the prices will rise again in the new year.

One common complaint is that tickets are ‘too expensive’. If the standard ticket price if £19 - you are paying for:

- Over 300 acres of gardens to explore
- Arboretum with over 14,000 tree species to see
- Kew’s famous tropical glasshouses
- 2 free art galleries
- Free walking tours
- Tree-Top Walkway
- Young children’s playground area
- plus so much more.

I think it is safe to say you are getting your money’s worth, plus Kew is a charity! smile

Now as a member - prices start from £62 (direct debit).
Now if you, bring in a guest, and you visit the gardens 4 times a month. If you paid every time (Adult price £19 and visited 48 times in the year) 2 adults would cost you £912! Being an ‘Individual Member’ which entitles you to bring one free guest, costs you £62 for the YEAR … It COMPLETELY makes sense if you are a local or a lover of the gardens - to become a member!

Throughout the year - Kew’s opening times are SEASONAL so open later/close earlier depending on the season. In the summer at the weekend you can stay as long as you like til 9pm! MEMBERS even get ‘Early entry’ before 10am in the summer too!

Now for one ONE MONTH ONLY - in DECEMBER when it gets dark at 4pm, the garden closes at 3:30pm. THIS is because - not only is it getting darker - but they need to clear a 300 acre garden of all visitors so it is safe for everybody, that makes sense. ALSO this is the month of ‘Christmas at Kew’ - a SEPARATE PAID event - that the events team need to set up for. Not only that - with as you all know: the security threat has risen in our country due to unfortunate events. The garden needs to be cleared or all day guests - and then set up security for the evening event for bag checks etc.

Staff have homes to go to also - they need to cash up any money they received in the day - this includes in the shop - and to turn off the till systems - so last entry is always half an hour BEFORE closing time.

Christmas at Kew - for the customer service team - is a difficult time for them - as they have to deal with, I’m going to say it: Obnoxious, self-entitled, ignorant people - who cannot be told “No”.
When being told they have missed the final entry time into the gardens, staff have received such reactions as:

- being shouted at
- being berated and name-called
- received foul language
- pushed passed physically
- spat at! shock
- self-entitled comments
- irrelevant comments to the situation
- poor excuses/blackmail to find any way into the gardens

For anyone who has worked in customer service - and who are good at their job, they will receive their fair share of difficult customers, it happens all over the world. It is their job to sometimes take it on the chin and deal with - BUT when is that fine line crossed - to it being outright aggressive and inappropriate behaviour? angry They are merely doing their job - they are not in charge of the gardens. Do not shoot the messenger.

Members are allowed free entry into the gardens all year - BUT it IS in the terms and conditions that they too, abide to the opening and closing times:

“Free entry to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for you and one family guest* during normal opening hours and subject to the usual conditions of entry. Friends must adhere to the Garden Regulations.*”

THEY ARE NOT VIPs. THE RED CARPET WILL NOT BE ROLLED OUT FOR THEM. I’ve also heard some do not understand the concept of queuing. Yes they get fast track - but even in the busy summers months that too starts to form a queue. Some just walk past refusing to queue - like for god sake what’s 30 seconds waiting?! hmm

Their membership is NO DIFFERENT to having say either a Gym membership, an Unlimited cinema card, a Merlin pass - you get it. You would not arrive at the gym just before closing and say: “I’M A MEMBER I NEED TO WORK OUT NOW.” You wouldn’t arrive at Alton Towers at 10pm with a Merlin Pass demanding: “I GET TO GO ON THE RIDES NOW AS I HAVE A PASS”.

Come on now - why on earth do some people behave in the way they do?! It baffles me. Some have children with them - that’s when their behaviour is just plain sad - their child is going to grow up to be spoilt and entitled, just like their parent.

Kew Gardens is a Royal Botanical garden with a rich history - maybe (some) deluded members believe they automatically have some “status” - let me tell you - you DO NOT.

Also, I might add - the cards are NON-TRANSFERABLE:

“Friends membership cards and any associated Friends benefits are non-transferable and can only be used by the named member. Proof of identity may be requested on presentation of your Friends membership card at the Royal Botanic Gardens”

I must stress that this is the minority of members of the gardens. Many are entirely pleasant and wonderful people who want to enjoy a day out. Too late for last entry? Thats fine they’ll come another day. No tears and tantrums from the majority.

Further conditions:

“We reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to refuse entry and/or Friends membership and/or to revoke Friends membership without refund if the Friends member behaves in a threatening or abusive manner towards any person at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, or damages or threatens to damage any of the collections or property of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, or acts in a manner which in Kew’s sole opinion brings Kew into disrepute.”

If you have never been to Kew Gardens - do. It’s a great family day out. Plan your visit first, look on the website and see what’s on. Also bring a picnic - you can save money that way. Or even better, become a member!

If you’ve read this and you are a member, I hope this doesn’t apply to you. If however, you disagree with all of the above and still think you somewhat own the garden and demand entry whenever - then, have a good look at yourself in the mirror. It’s the 21st century and we need less bigoted people living in the stone age. We are all human. So stop your narcissistic behaviour.

ps. I'm a member. I love Kew Gardens - as does my children. I was able to find all the information and terms and conditions on their website - and I believe you can too. grinflowers

LottieProsser Wed 06-Dec-17 18:41:47

I think that's interesting and not out of place at all. I used to visit Kew fairly regularly when mine and friends children were little. I'm afraid the main thing that stops me going to Kew now is the terrible plane noise which makes it not a relaxing experience - yet another reason to reduce the size of Heathrow not build a third runway so far as I'm concerned. I can't imagine why anyone would expect to go in after 3.30pm in December when it's dark unless they were planning to lurk about for a while and join an evening event without paying!

PeopleBaffleMe Thu 07-Dec-17 16:28:50

I did the maths wrong - two adults at £19 each visiting 48 times together would cost £1824 whoops! So yes even more of a saving.

I should have checked my typos also but you get the gist blush grin

PeopleBaffleMe Thu 07-Dec-17 16:30:53

I agree the planes can get a little annoying. I just remind myself Kew was there before Heathrow! That's a whole other thing building another runway I'm with you there!

I would not be surprised if many people just walk in without paying, cheapskates. hmm

Kewcumber Thu 07-Dec-17 18:31:26

YEs but patently obviously no-one would visit 48 times at that price. I used it loads with a fmaily memebership when DS was little and too be honest it was an alternative to a local park. VEry nice alternative but many local families will use it as a park and wouldn;t consider paying £19 for it.

No excuse for people to be rude though you do seem a little over invested in the behaviour of the public. I worked in my mum's shop for years. "The Public" can be hideous. Writing this on a website won;t change anything, they won;t even recognise themselves. They would just say they expected high standards of people.

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