Last July I sent a less than pleasant email to Tenpin, a bowling operator that has a branch here in Telford, about it’s shoddy and expensive way of booking and trying to contact individual locations. For those of you who still have what you believe to be the local phone number for the bowling alley (01952-290100), I’m afraid to tell you that it changed some time ago to a less than local rate 0871 873 2450 (10p per minute from a BT landline). Now in my original complaint back in July I was informed I’d be getting some free bowling passes, but they never arrived.
Booking over the phone also incurs a £1.50 booking fee which strikes me (no pun intended) as kind of strange. Perhaps if the sales team you spoke to were in a proper office somewhere and that £1.50 went towards running that I guess it would be somewhats understandable (bare in mind I didn’t say reasonable). However rather than speaking to a different location, you’re just talking to a staff member a few metres away from the reception desk; in the case of Telford they’re in a nice warm little room away from customers and enjoy acting snooty to other staff members who they believe they are ‘above’. At least this was the case a couple of years ago when I worked there.
So let’s come forward to last night. I went bowling with my brother, sister, and a group of their mates. For the same unlimited bowling, they had paid £11 each (plus the telephone booking fee) by paying in advance, whereas me and my sister, who did not book in advance, paid just £9. I didn’t know the ins-and-outs of their booking, and thought they’d booked two lanes next to each other for five people (hence me and my sister paying seperately), so a total of 7 people were playing. This wasn’t the case though. The group looked at the total price paid (£73) and compared it to the £9 me and my sister had paid so presumed the full groups entry had been paid.
When our game stopped prematurely we were rudely approached by a member of staff demanding to know who hadn’t paid. Since he wasn’t wearing a name tag I’ll just call him Lanky Larry, or rather, think of Dave Gorman but with glasses, skinny and stretched out (sorry Dave). The group explained to him that everyone had paid and it was during this explanation that I realised what had happened. The manager, not wearing a name badge but since he wasn’t a fan of paying attention and seemed to have the attention span of a gnat I’ll refer to him as Timmy Turner, then came over to add his two pennies. He said that he could make everything completely fair by charging me and my sister an extra £2 each; yes his idea of a ‘special bespoke offer’ was to charge extra. Then he sauntered off after seeing something sparkly (well that’s how it seemed), so we then just paid for the extra person taking the total to £82.
When I was working there staff didn’t seem to last very long, managers too, and I can only presume that it’s still that way as no one seemed to have much of a clue about anything. The girl at the bar didn’t know about offers on drinks and had to go ask, Lanky Larry didn’t know how to do much of anything on the desk without running off and asking, even the manager didn’t know that you could perform certain actions right at the lane without the need to run up to reception (which was often unmanned) such as changing names. The only staff member who had a clue was the technician who had been there for years.
But the best staff member for shere stupidity and bone-idleness was the guy in the kitchen. Sporting a pair of glasses and a level of education to rival that of 18th century pile of grass, good old Winston Bennett (no name badge) told us with utmost certainty that there was no mayonnaise in the kitchen. At the same time, one group member was asking the same question to the manager and was offered a choice of normal or garlic mayo. Oddly enough when we’d ran out of mayo and went to the kitchen for more, Winston Bennett still denied there being any mayo on the premesis, despite us showing him the empty punnett.
The staff, sorry, the vast majority of the staff at TenPin are a joke, but truth be told this is how it’s been since the company took over. I was told that back when it was still the Telford Superbowl the staff were treated a lot better and thus took more care and attention in their jobs, meaning customers were treated a lot better. However it seems that Essenden, the owners of TenPin are only after your money and couldn’t care less about how they get it (though that’s not surprising when you look at the Board of Directors and see only one person who mentions any bowling experience). While I was there I was tempted to ask about recent Mystery Bowler results, but thought it might cause too many headaches while people ran around asking other staff members what one was.
Folks if you’re going to be going to Telford’s TenPin anytime soon (truth be told I’ve not been to other locations, they might be better), don’t expect anything great, no wait, don’t expect anything average. Go in with low hopes and you’ll find you won’t be dissapointed.
Once again I leave this open to comments, so if you’ve had crappy service or even (by chance of a miracle) good service jot something down. If by chance anyone from Tenpin or Essenden see this you are also welcome to add any comments.