A Party Pooper

, , , , , , | Working | September 2, 2016

(We got heavily into debt as a young couple with two children and have just managed to pay off our car loans and all of our credit cards without filing for bankruptcy. We cancel all the cards but one with a low limit for emergencies and commit to living debt-free (i.e. no credit cards, loans, etc.). We call to book my son’s birthday party at the same indoor amusement park where we did it last year, and since we don’t want to give our credit card for the deposit, we opt instead to pay for the entire party in cash the day we book it. I drive downtown, make the payment, and get my receipt. I confirm at that point that on the day of the party we will have nothing to pay and will only have to show up, celebrate, and leave. On the day of the party, everything is going smoothly. Just after we do the presents, when the party is winding down, a young employee approaches us.)

Employee #1: “Hi! Looks like you guys are having a good time.”

Me: “Oh, yes. Everything has been wonderful, thanks.”

Employee: “Wonderful. This is for you.” *hands me a folded piece of paper* “You can take care of this with me at the front whenever you are ready.”

Me: “Oh, okay. Thanks.”

(I look at the paper and it is a bill for $35. I show it to my wife and we are puzzled. It just says “additional party costs” on it, but there’s no breakdown of what exactly the fee is for. I go to the counter to find out.)

Me: “Hi. I’m sorry, but I’m a little confused. What exactly is this fee for? The $35?”

Employee #1: “Um, for your party? That we’re hosting for you?”

(The employee beside her rolls her eyes and laughs at my apparent stupidity.)

Me: “Um, I get that I have to pay for the party; that’s why I paid for it last month.” *pulls my receipt out of my purse and shows her* “See? I paid in full, in cash, a month ago.”

Employee #2: “The rate for the party has gone up since you booked. We have to charge the amount it is now, not the amount it was when you booked it. That’s how we do things here. Now would you like to pay cash, credit, or debit?”

Me: “Um, debit, I guess. I’m still confused.”

Employee #1: “Well, you would be. You stay-at-home moms have no idea how things work in the workplace.”

Me: “I work full-time, thank you very much. I’ve probably been working since you were in diapers, so what I do know is that this is not proper customer service.”

Employee #1: “Are you gonna pay or do you want me to get my manager and security?”

Me: “Debit, please.”

(I pay and go back to my family and relate the story to my wife. She is livid and tells me that we are going to get our money back. We leave the kids with my in-laws in the party area and go back to the counter. The two employees see me coming and immediately roll their eyes and throw their heads back in frustration.)

Employee #1: *sighs in a very frustrated and rude tone* “Yes, ma’am… How can I help you this time?”

Me: “I would like to speak to your manager, please.”

Employee #1: *sighs again* “Fine, but she’s going to tell you exactly what I said.”

Employee #2: “God, some people…”

(The second employee calls the manager on their house phone and tells her something I can’t really hear. The manager arrives, looking very annoyed at us. She takes the employees aside for a moment and then comes back to us. The employees are standing behind her looking smug and smiling at us.)

Manager: “Good afternoon, ladies! I understand you two are having trouble understanding our pricing policy?”

Me: “Not exactly. I understand that you have raised your prices since last month and that people paying today would have to pay the current price, not the price of when they booked the party. That I’m not arguing with, although I don’t necessarily agree with it. My problem is this $35 bill you presented me with. I paid in cash, in full, for this party a month ago because we don’t like to use our credit cards.” *hands her my original receipt* “And I was assured we would have nothing to pay today. That $35 came out of my gas budget for the week; we budgeted very tightly for this party and I really wasn’t expecting to get a bill today.”

Manager: “I understand, but our prices have gone up since…” *looks at my receipt for a moment and looks up quickly* “Wait, you already paid? Last month?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. I paid in full at the price you advertised. I shouldn’t have to pay more today because the price went up. Would you expect to get a bill from [Major Department Store] for your shoes if the price went up after you bought them?”

Manager: “You are absolutely right, madam. This was our mistake and I am so sorry! Have you already paid this $35?”

Wife: “Yes, she paid with our debit card and we’d like a refund, please.”

Manager: “Absolutely, ladies. My sincere apologies for the misunderstanding. [Employee #1], would you refund this lady’s debit card and cancel this bill, please?”

Employee #1: “What? No!”

Manager: “Excuse me?”

Employee #1: “[Employee #2] told me to charge her! She said to. I didn’t do anything wrong! I just did my job!”

Manager: “Okay, I’m just going to take care of this myself.”

([Employee #2] now looks embarrassed. She gives us a quick apology and retreats, red-faced, into their little office. [Employee #1] is red-faced and angry.)

Employee #1: “I was told by [Employee #2] to do it. I did nothing wrong!”

Manager: *to us* “I’m so sorry about this. Can I take your debit card, please?”

Me: “Absolutely, and thank you for fixing this for us. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but $35 is a lot of money for us right now.”

Manager: “I understand.”

Employee #1: *now yelling with her arms crossed* “I was told to charge them! This isn’t fair! I didn’t do anything wrong, [Manager]. [Employee #2] told me to do it! This is f***ed up!”

Manager: “[Employee #1]! Do not argue with me! We will talk about this later. Now go into the office and wait for me. Ask [Employee #2] to come out here and cover the desk.”

Employee #1: “This is bulls***. I’m calling my father.”

Manager: “Your refund is complete; again, I am so sorry about this. It isn’t easy working with teens sometimes.”

Wife: “Tell me about it. I used to manage a fast food restaurant and believe me, I heard some variation of ‘I’m telling my father’ at least once a month from someone. I feel your pain.”

Manager: “I’m so glad you understand, and please don’t let this influence how you feel about us. Most of my staff are wonderful and we love to make our customers happy.”

Me: “We come here all the time. Believe me, I’ve seen your wonderful staff in action. We will be back!”

Manager: “Great! Look, here are a few coupons for some free activities and tokens for your next few visits. I think I’ve got some coupons for free pizza from the canteen back here somewhere…”

Me: “Don’t even worry; it’s all good. Thank you so much and have a lovely day.”

Manager: “You as well! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a young lady back here who’s just dying to talk with me.”


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