It looks like this is your first time here?
Please subscribe to my RSS feed! Have a good read...
I thought I’d send my letter to customer services by way of my blog. I’d like to precede by saying that in the UK, consumer protection law trumps small print… So here’s my letter.
To: Adventurers’ Services, Chessington World of Adventures,
Leatherhead Road, Chessington. KT9 2NE.
My family and I are on our second year of Merlin passes. However, the queue situation on Saturday 30th October got a little out of hand. I understand this happens, but my complaint is far more serious to my mind, because I believe you did not abide by consumer credit legislation and worse, you have built the inability to abide by the acts into your business practices.
We arrived at Chessington a little later than normal – about 2:00 PM, but this was because the weekend was a “Halloween Spooktacular” which meant the park was open late until 8:00 PM rather than the normal 6:00 PM. In addition, we purchased 4 Express Passes to help my family through what would otherwise be a hard day.
On this occasion – the Express Passes were not as described, in that they were neither “Express” nor – in two cases – did they even act as “passes”. I know that sometimes an organization is unable to fulfill a a promise. It can be easily sorted in that event, because you can refund my money.
After buying the passes, we went to the Cobra – or Kobra – depending on the spelling around the park. We went through the express queue and waited our turn. During our wait, we found out from others in the queue that the “Vampire” ride was closed. Unfortunate I am sure for a Halloween Spooktacular. Looking at our passes, we noted that the Vampire ride was on the pass. Something to solve later. A more immediate issue was that the Kobra ride was NOT on the Express pass. Frustrating. The main queue was a very long wait.
Our next attempt was Dragon’s Fury. This being the scariest ride in the park, my wife and son went to win a cuddly toy whilst my daughter and I went in the Express queue. There was already a fair queue, but unluckily it was at this time that the ride had to stop. A new car had to be added to the ride and one way or another this was a very long wait as well. At least we managed to use two Dragons Fury passes. Our plan is usually to get a second ride with the other two passes. But this was was never to materialize.
After this, we looked at some animals and then had some very nice noodles, before trying our luck again. The Rattlesnake is not on the Express Passes, but then again nor was it ever advertised as such. We agreed to meet up at the Bubbleworks ride. By now it was gone 6:00 PM but more importantly the Vampire ride had come online. This gave us a dilemma, so I went to the Vampire ride with my daughter and my wife went to the Bubbleworks with my son. Not surprisingly after being offline all day, the queue even in the Express line was long – but more surprising was that the Express line for the Bubbleworks was closed altogether. I was therefore able to use two Vampire rides from the Express pass ticket, but no Bubbleworks ones.
We chose to Renzvous at the Pirate Boat. By now way past 7:00 PM. Since someone was sick on the ride before us, this ride was also held up and the ride controller suggested that we were welcome to stay, but might like to go to another ride given the hour. I agreed with my wife that we split up again, so that I could just pop up to customer services, as we had been effectively unable to actually use two of our Express Passes in their entirety. I wasn’t angry – I just wanted my money back on two of the tickets.
Customer services is called “Adventurer’s Services” and my day’s adventure started there.
To my mind, the Express Pass was not fulfilled or – today – fulfillable. Your colleague was polite and accepting that I had barely used the passes. He also checked I had a receipt dated the correct day. However, he was only prepared to offer an exchange for another day. Now I am pretty sure that you were – for a variety of circumstances – unable to provide the Express Passes as described or as expected when I bought them. I believe I can either ask for a like for like replacement or a full refund. Your colleague told me I could not have a refund, because it said “no refunds” on the Express Pass. He would only offer an exchange for other Express Passes on another day. Since Chessington is due to close down for the winter after Halloween and after then my Merlin Pass would be close to expiry, this was not an acceptable substitute for me. A simple refund was required. It was refused.
I (politely) demanded a refund as I believe I was entitled to – not for the whole day – but for the unused and unusable Express Passes. He told me that you also have lots of lawyers that make sure your processes are right and that the Express Pass says no refunds. He gave me a slip of paper with his manager’s address on. It is the address at the top of this post.
I tried one more time – saying that a £16 refund now was a lot less trouble to everyone than a blog post later. I have a tendency at this stage to want to make a record of this kind of meetings, though, so had thought that it might be wise to take a record the conversation. I explained that to your colleague that I did not know if my iPhone had worked, but that hopefully I had recorded the conversation for my records.
Your colleague (politely) told me that I was not allowed to take a record of the conversation without his permission. The conversation stopped then as he went to security.
Clearly, this negotiation had reached an impasse. In fact the phone had not recorded the conversation, but I think that was academic by this stage. I kept my Express Passes and my receipt and the leaflet with this address on and went back to my family… stalked by two security guards. We had mistakenly thought there was a firework show at the end of the night, so decided to ask the security guards where it was.
I think it is fair to say that I was not going to get out of the park without the security guard verifying that I did not have an accurate record of the meeting. I do not know how far he would have gone to feel satisfied and since I was on private property I confess to not knowing how far my rights protect me from being assaulted. I felt rather uncomfortable given that I was only requesting a return of my £16 in a situation where I believe I absolutely have a right to a refund.
I certainly do not blame your colleague for going to security. I do, however, believe the Tussauds group should give customers a prompt and full refund in circumstances where they are unable to deliver a product or service as expected when dealing with consumers.
I would like a refund. I would also like the Tussaud group to change its “Adventurer’s Services” policy and procedures so that another person in my position is given a reasonable refund there on the spot and not treated like a criminal in front of his children for exercising his rights.
For the benefit of other readers, I took the opportunity to sees if queues were starting to annoy others at Chessington. I found these other reviews of Chessington on the web: