— UPDATE 18th June 09 — (Scroll Down)
So I had a reply from Tenpin about the travasty at the Telford bowling alley (see ‘Telford Bowling Alley Balls’d Up Again’), so I thought I’d share it with you. The email itself actually came through to my inbox yesterday (12th June), but the letter attached was dated the 10th strangely. So here’s the letter from the General Manager at the Telford branch, along with my own ever so slightly sarcastic comments.
Dear Mr Darlington,
Step 1: Know who you’re writing to, check.
Firstly let me take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to contact us and highlight your concerns with regard to your recent visit to Tenpin Telford. Tenpin Ltd prides itself on our high standards and we are keen to receive comments from our customers who feel we have failed to live up to this standard.
Trouble is most people don’t know how to get these comments to the relevant person, so will probably end up giving them directly to the duty manager, if he’s not distracted by the colourful backdrop of the lanes. For those who do wish to tell them about poor service etc, the email addresses that I emailed were firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com.
My sincerest apologies to you and your party for the disappointment you experienced. On receipt of your email I was contacted to investigate your concerns, and I have taken on board all comments made and have made the relevant investigations as a matter of course.
All of them? We’ll see eh.
I would firstly like to address some points raised in your email regarding the operations within Tenpin. You have explained you were previously employed at Tenpin Telford, and in your time …
In my time? I’m not that old you cheeky whipper-snapper.
… customers were able to use a local number to call and speak to a member of the sales team based within the centre. Whilst customers may have been aware of the local number to call due to prior marketing and directory listings, from the point at which Tenpin acquired Telford Superbowl we always advertised our central 0871 ‘Book to Bowl’ number which at that time directed calls to the relevant site.
This is of course after being sent around the system for a good twenty minutes or so because the ever so intelligent machine didn’t know where ‘Telford’ was. Though to be fair, not many people around the country know that either.
We switched over to a Central Reservations (call centre) in November 2007 …
Note that although they’ll say call centre, it’s still a small room on the site (that I mentioned in that previous post). The only difference being that the calls are no longer sent to the front desk (aka, the people who (should) actually know what the hell’s going on).
… and with the introduction of online booking customers are now able to book via a number of methods. In some cases the amount charged may vary depending upon the method chosen and how far in advance the booking is made.
I would like to apologise for the confusion where pricing is concerned and can confirm that the price you paid through our externally based call centre was correct.
no, not me, try again
The total amount you have stated your friend …
that’s right, it was my friend, not me
… paid for their lane does not correlate with our records, but I can confirm they were charged £11 per person plus a £1.50 booking fee, whilst you were charged £9 per person on arrival.
So what I said doesn’t correlate with your records, but you can confirm that what I said was the same … as your record. You may have to explain that one again.
We do offer “walk in” rates to our customers and I am pleased you were able to take advantage of this on the night.
“Walk in” rates, more commonly known as the ‘regular price’ apparently.
The issue raised regarding condiments at the restaurant is still under investigation and I would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused. The Manager on duty that evening did however assure me that he arranged for more condiments to be served to your group. The service issues you have raised will be addressed with all the staff on duty at the time of your visit.
Ironically I can’t stand mayo and would have been happier with a mayo-free evening. As for addressing things with all the staff, well I was there for a year and we only had an-entire staff meeting once when the management changed over. When we had parties get food poisoning and we were investigated for that, I only heard about it weeks after by over hearing a conversation.
Tenpin prides itself on excellent customer service and I can assure you that all customer comments are taken seriously and fully investigated to ensure that this type of incident does not occur again.
Well whenever we had the results of the Mystery Bowler, like a mystery shopper coming in to assess levels of customer service, how the lanes are etc to a certain criteria, hardly anyone even looked at the results let alone acted on them. Likewise poor comment slips were generally ignored as ‘just a piece of faff’.
It is clear that on this occasion your visit to Tenpin Telford did not meet expectations.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact us regarding your visit and please be assured that all issues raised will be investigated and dealt with accordingly.
So there’re the words from the boss at Telford. Whether or not they will actually be looked at or not no one will ever know, except for him of course. Though truth be told I’m not expecting anything to happen. Strangely enough he didn’t mention anything of the general rudeness of staff members Lanky Larry or Timmy Turner especially when they decided charging us more for the night would in fact make it fairer (not to mention that they couldn’t do that anyway).
The staff definately need training but as I said it’s very likely that it’ll happen anytime soon. It’s a shame that one of the few remaining fun things to do in Telford, but I guess sooner or later we’ll be losing that aswell.
Still no word of the bowling vouchers I was meant to receive for that old complaint back in July last year.
Here’s a copy of the email I have just sent back to the staff member who forwarded to me the email from the site manager, just to keep correspondance in the open.
Thank you for forwarding the email from Mr S**** to me, and once again I’ve made the correspondence available to any and all customers who may wish to see at http://www.darlosworld.co.uk/2009/06/14/the-reply-telford-bowling-alley-ballsd-up-again/
Sarcastic comments aside I personally don’t believe that any action will be taken at the site. I do believe the staff need better training, and unless it has been improved significantly since I worked there (when it was pretty much a teach yourself system), then there is little hope for improvement. As I have also worked as a mystery shopper for years myself, had this been a mystery bowling visit then it would have been a disasterous result for the site.
I would if possible like a further response as to the duty managers idea of making prices fair by offering to charge the two walk in members of our party (myself included) extra, as it was from here the evening seemed to begin it’s descent.
–UPDATE– (18th June 2009)
I thought rather than make new blog posts for all this I’d just update this one. While I was in Leeds I had another email from Tenpin, so let’s get started eh.
Thank you for your reply. Having also read your blog and the comments you have added regarding the response from the General Manager, I will take the time to explain some points that seem to require clarification.
Central Reservations – it is as explained, a CENTRAL call centre in one location taking incoming booking enquiries for 36 of our 38 centres that have the bowling system technology to operate in this way. This call centre is located in Northampton – it is not an office within the bowl.
Well my only response to this is that my friend still working for Tenpin (at the Star City, Birmingham branch) must be a dirty rotton liar, or possibly they’re one of the 2 centres which aren’t linked to such system.
Recipients of your original email – your email was indeed delivered to all addresses you have stated you sent your email to, and we appreciate from this you were keen for your comments to be noted.
Keen being one word for it.
Customers have a clear means to address feedback to us via our website to an inbox that is currently managed by the PA to the Operations Director, as the initial response send to you shows.
Then I’m sure fellow customers won’t mind knowing the other ways of contacting you and I’m sure you also won’t mind your customers being able to offer their comments via such alternative methods.
The total amount charged – the rate PER PERSON you stated originally is correct, whilst the TOTAL you stated is not. That is where the figures do not correlate.
OK, lets have another look because the original post as the night we’re on about started with a misunderstanding of numbers which escalated into the awful customer service which is what my main complaint is about.
Now that they’ve actually told me which part of what I said didn’t make sense rather than just “The total amount you have stated your friend paid for their lane does not correlate with our records”, I’ve had another look and yes there was an error. Yes that’s right Tenpin, there are people willing to admit when they make mistakes. Where I said “… the total price paid (£73) and …”, I should have said £62. The confusion was caused by the same way that happened in the alley itself where an extra person was accounted for too early (I didn’t bother mentioning the booking fee). This in turn meant that later on when I said “… taking the total to £82.” I should have said £71.
Training – as a former employee you will hopefully appreciate that staff work varying shifts, and investigating issues and addressing feedback is not always done in a full team meeting. However, we will address your feedback with those directly concerned at the earliest opportunity and strive to communicate it in a positive manner to all staff so they can improve their service standards.
I sure do hope so.
As Regional HR & Training Officer for the North region I also deal with the customer feedback both positive and negative and help the management to address the issues raised through training.
As regards your other outstanding concerns, I am awaiting further details as to the investigation with the manager and staff, and will endeavour to respond to your concerns as soon as possible.
Again I do hope so.
If you would like to send me a copy of your prior complaint I will look into the matter of your vouchers not having been received.
In the original post for this recent complain, I linked to that older post in the first two words. So incase you missed that one the link to it is http://www.darlosworld.co.uk/darlo/archive_july08.php, just scroll down to the final entry (this was before the site went WordPress).
If you are happy to provide me with a contact number I can also contact you by phone to discuss your concerns at a time convenient to both.
I’d prefer to keep to email if it’s fine with you. This way everything either of us says is written down and we can avoid further errors. Also as I’m running back and forth between Telford and Leeds I wouldn’t want to schedule a time to call and then have to rearrange it (over and over).
Once again, thank you for your feedback.
To which my simple reply is,
Once again I thank you for your rapid response and also helping to clear up the errors in the total values paid. As per usual I have updated the blog entry at http://www.darlosworld.co.uk/2009/06/14/the-reply-telford-bowling-alley-ballsd-up-again/, and the original complaint back in July can be seen at http://www.darlosworld.co.uk/darlo/archive_july08.php. As this post was made before the blog turned into a WordPress styled one, you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of the page to see it.
As I mention on the page, I’d prefer to keep to email if it’s fine with you. This way everything either of us says is written down and we can avoid further errors. Also as I’m running back and forth between Telford and Leeds I wouldn’t want to schedule a time to call and then have to rearrange it (over and over), though as you have requested it my phone number is *****-******.
I do eagerly await your feedback in regards to those mentioned in your email.