the talented ms. scully (tabloidscully) wrote in bad_service,
the talented ms. scully

This suck happened to me only tangentially. A few months ago, about 14 friends and I decided to go to a local mom-and-pop arcade that's really family-centric. It's like Chuck E. Cheese with a decent bar, great games for kids and some awesome rides for adults. It has a separate eating area which only offers a buffet.

One of my friends, L, has two children with Celiac disease, so they cannot eat any foods which contain gluten. L knew that the buffet didn't offer any gluten-free options, which was fine. The plan had been for the rest of us to eat, then to go play as a group. However, the management would not allow L and her kids to sit with the 15 of us who had purchased buffet tickets unless she did so, too. L tried to explain the severity of the kids' conditions, but the manager kept repeating he "couldn't give anything away for free" and suggested the kids would just hit up the buffet the moment his back was turned. I got involved and said we didn't want anything for free other than to sit together as the kids could not eat the food or they would get seriously ill. L showed them the medical bracelets and gluten-free snacks in her purse as proof they wouldn't go near the buffet, but manager wouldn't budge.

L even tried to compromise by offering to buy three waters at the premium soda cost just for the privilege to sit with the rest of our party, but the manager only refuse,d and L wouldn't agree to buy the buffet tickets. I don't blame her for not wanting to pay almost $30 just for her family to sit around and watch other people eat food they can't even have themselves.

They told us our only option to sit together if we didn't all purchase buffet dinners was to "buy a party room for the night"--at the discounted rate of $75 an hour. Those of us who had paid to eat at the buffet demanded a refund due to the discrimination, walked out, and went to Dave and Buster's instead. They lost out on the business of 16 people, each willing to spend about $50 each because they "couldn't risk" letting L's family rip off their $9-a-person buffet.

What really rubs me the wrong way is I had just hosted my daughter's first birthday party at this same arcade two weeks before, and got conned into spending $300 for really terrible service (the room wasn't ready, the hostess that we had to pay for was late and didn't do her job like cutting the cake, they nickel and dimed us on things like soda refills, they smashed the pizza, etc.), but I chalked it up to the mistake of actually booking their birthday party services.

Now I know better and will probably never go back to them ever again. Not even just for a night out. I don't know if they were ignorant to what Celiac is or they're part of the population that believes food allergies are just figments of imagination, but either way, this was not handled appropriately and they lost out on a lot of money as a result.

Quick edit: in order to even enter the establishment, you have to buy a "playing card" with a minimum of $5.00 in tokens on it. You can circumvent this requirement if you are attending a party in a rented party room, but that's the only exception. Also, because the rides are generally blocked off by groups of six to eight, much of the play area is not accessible if you don't have your entire party with you, meaning that many of the amenities would be blocked off to L and her kids until we were done anyway. Not to mention, the only available seating (aside from at arcade cabinets or what have you) is in the buffet area, or any of the party rooms. This means L's only options were to literally stand around until our party of 15 had finished our meals, leave and come back later, or pay for food her family could not eat.
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