To complain or not to complain...
confuddledDOTcom · 12/04/2011 22:57
Our wedding reception is going to be held in a historic building and they hold regular themed evening events, which is basically a meal with actors entertaining you set to whatever time that theme is. It's not like a restaurant meal, you all eat together. It's great fun but it's not cheap (you're paying for meal, unlimited drinks plus theatre) and we've not been for 6 years because of it.
We decided to go on Saturday. I've been making a dress for myself since February (I'm a good seamstress but with my OH working away I can't dedicate a lot of time to it because of the children and I couldn't finish it until close to the date because I'm pregnant and had to fit it) and spent a lot of money on it. I knew I'd be doing it as a one off because this is our last baby so even if we go again it's still a maternity dress. My OH and his friends are big into history, he went in Saxon chain and our friend went in Viking armour - theirs was reenactment quality. So basically we went to a bit of effort for this day and took it seriously.
So we got there and everything was good, we were taken through the building (bit of scene setting) to the restaurant. We were the last people there and in the last but one group to be taken in, so were a bit surprised that it was quite empty in there. It took about an hour for the others to filter in, they'd been outside smoking, obviously as everyone eats together we were late getting starters - almost 9pm and the licence is for 10:30pm! The actors tried to get the entertainment started during that time but were constantly either heckled or spoken over so they pretty much abandoned it and took to interacting, they spent a bit of time with us, knew exactly what the guys were wearing and joking about no wonder pregnancy had done my back in if I was carrying Saxon babies, they come out in armour.
Each course went the same, long gaps between as they disappeared for half an hour to smoke. The guests shouting over the actors etc - it was two large groups that did it. OH spent a lot of time sat on the steps because of the noise and ended up with an ice pack. We left as soon as our deserts were finished because we saw no point in staying. My head was spinning so much I felt like I'd been drinking (far more than I had) I could hardly get upstairs when we got in because I felt so ill.
I emailed our wedding coordinator (same team as arrange these events) and told her we were not impressed but had come out with a couple of ideas about the wedding and a better idea of what it will look like. She called me back to say she'd file away our wishes and as far as Saturday was concerned she said they knew it had gone badly and my wedding wouldn't be the same because they'd be my guests (I also know one of the actors who will be there and he wouldn't be heckled!) I'm not worried about my wedding, I said that to her in my email and on the phone.
I'm left feeling a little annoyed about her response. The night cost us over £200 between the three of us, it's not something we can do again and I feel like my dress has been wasted. She said you never know who has booked to come so you can't control it, but I disagree! Yes YOU CAN! You can train the actors to hold their own when they're heckled (or employ actors strong enough to - the guy they're employing to be one of the main actors at my wedding is not employed for these events) you can have the events and catering team deal with these people who stand outside for over an hour and tell them that no one can eat until they sit down so sit down or lose their food! I didn't pay so much money for one meal to be left until almost 10pm before getting my main!
So I'm not sure what to do. Do I complain or leave it? And thank you if you're still reading at this point!
GreenEyesandHam · 12/04/2011 23:06
I'm kind of with the co-ordinator, sorry.
They can't control who is going to be there, and presumably the other guests paid the same rate as you did.
The venue should maybe have been more firm in getting people back to their tables, or just brought out the food anyway but maybe that would have spoiled the mood for the 'majority'
I do sympathise, your group obviously took it quite seriously, perhaps the other guests saw it more as a 'fun theme night (as I would have done to be honest)
I'm sure your wedding do will be lovely though
harecare · 12/04/2011 23:22
It's worth complaining if you think they could possibly have done anything about it. Getting heckled by the majority of the guests must have made it impossible for the actors so I doubt that could be helped, but perhaps bringing food out as soon as previous course was finished might have helped? Or do you think the actors weren't quite up to it? It does sound as if you just went on a bad night.
TastesLikePanda · 12/04/2011 23:25
I would complain - Why should customers be kept waiting for large groups of people to finish smoking? The venue should be firmer with people and state that the meal will be served at x time - if you are outside smoking, you will be locked out. (ok that might be a bit harsh but it might be the only way for eople to listen).
Plus those meals are not cheap - why would you spend all that money for a meal and a show if you don't want to experience either? You can smoke outside your local curry house for a damn site less???
confuddledDOTcom · 12/04/2011 23:49
It wasn't even a fun theme night at the end. There was no fun because they had to cancel the entertainment, they spent the whole time outside when they weren't eating and those of us who were left had to put up with shouting and waiting for our food. Not sure what you'd expect from a fun theme night?
I didn't complain to our wedding coordinator, I told her what had happened.
There was members of the events team there and catering staff who weren't in character (although they were dressed) so either really could really have gone out and said something. Maybe the heckling couldn't be controlled, but leaving guests without food could have been sorted, by telling them "your food is on the table" or something and leaving those who don't want to join in to miss out not everyone else.
TastesLikePanda, I don't get that either! They're not cheap at all (maybe you get a lot for your money if you looked at it broken down) you're going out for a meal (pretty decent meal at that) and theatre, you'd think if you're going to pay for it you'd want to go, get your money's worth. I wouldn't pay it just for the food and drink (well, actually that's what I did!)
flyingspaghettimonster · 13/04/2011 00:17
I'd complain - write an email saying how important the night was to you, how much work you put in to your dress etc. I did this recently when our anniversary dinner was spoiled by the restaurant staff refusing to honour the groupon I purchased for it, saying it was only valid at their other location, which then closed 2 hours early after we drove 40 minutes to eat there... I got a refund on the groupon and a free meal for us which we are having tonight, so complaining politely and letting them no it went wrong works.
differentnameforthis · 13/04/2011 02:31
OK, so your wedding is likely to go differently, as she said, they are your guests, so will be more likely to be 'herded' into eating, speeches etc. So I don't think you need to worry too much about that!
They probably can't find actors that easily, willing to do what they do, knowing the concise history etc. But I agree that it is very rude to heckle over them & there needs to be a compare of sorts to hush the audience.
It sounds poorly run, tbh. If they expect everyone to be seated to eat, how does that work with hot food? They prepare it when everyone is seated? Thus taking even longer, or do they keep it warm? Not ideal!
Wrt to the food, I think they should have set times for each course. Yes, I know people don't like to eat so routinely, but say, people need to be seated at 8 for starter, etc. You can't really control huge individual (but separate) groups i.e waiting for everyone to be seated, so I think they need to make a more formal arrangement wrt the food & times it is served.
That way, they know food is on the table at x o'clock, so if it goes cold, it's the problem of the diner, not everyone else!
SuchProspects · 13/04/2011 07:07
You went somewhere for a night out with entertainment included. It was expensive and they didn't deliver the experience you expected. Complain and see if you can get your money back or free tickets to the next one (I know free tickets isn't ideal in your situation, but I think there are limits to what you will realistically get and that's the most likely good outcome).
I think your wedding being there is irrelevant and I wouldn't really have expected a wedding coordinator to respond differently. She isn't really in a role where she can address the night you had nor should she really be encouraging you to pursue a complaint, she's mainly trying to make you think the wedding won't be like that.
confuddledDOTcom · 13/04/2011 10:14
I'm mobile and low on power so I'll answer better later. Both events - the wedding and the evening - are organised by the same team. I booked my tickets by coincidence through the lady who was our original coordinator (I think they were understaffed when we booked so the work was shared out). I think not going through our coordinator is a good idea though because it could make our relationship awkward.
They cook the food during the night, if you go past them you can see them working. I guess they have everything ready and in ovens to come out at the right time. They serve meat at the table and vegetables are in big bowls placed around. It's almost part of the entertainment when it's served because costumed staff bring it out with the lead actor announcing it and they take a table each. I just wish they'd have served at a time regardless of who's sitting down. The events team could have told those outside they were missing food.
Flowerpotmummy · 13/04/2011 10:14
This reply has been deleted
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
SarahBumBarer · 13/04/2011 10:41
YANBU - I have never been to anything like that so the closest I can compare it to is comedy clubs While the food side of things is not the same the smilarity is that yes i expect the comedians to deal with hecklers effectively so as not to have the entire show sidelined and on occassions I have seen Jongleurs (in particular) deal very firmly with overly drunken hecklers at one point ejecting an entire table and generally people are expected to be quiet even at the bar while the "turn" is on.
So actually I think such places can deal quite effectively with how other guests behave and they definitely should have served the food without every one there - just serve it and leave to go cold if they are not there.
confuddledDOTcom · 14/04/2011 00:11
differentnameforthis, it's run similarly to how the receptions are run, although it's a different programme. Everyone eats the same meal (which are advertised and there is a vegetarian alternative so you do know what you're getting) and as I said before they kind of make it part of the entertainment, announcing the food etc.
Thank you everyone, I wasn't sure about it but the more I think about it and reading the responses the more I think I need to. They can't vet everyone who comes in but they can deal better with people who refuse to take their seats or those who heckle the entertainment off stage. The only email address I can find online is guest feedback, but it's a start I guess.
flyingspaghettimonster, I hope you enjoy your evening
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