Yesterday afternoon (August 2nd)I took our two children to the Cabot Circus ‘Cinema Delux’ to see Smurfs 2. It was intended as a special treat for our 6 year old’s birthday, but as the afternoon unfolded, it appeared that the adjoining car park was about the best thing about the whole sorry debacle and I left wishing I really hadn’t experienced the place at all.
Our original intentions for the trip had been very optimistic; a good friend of ours had suggested we take advantage of the Director’s Lounge facilities and have some hot dogs or cake brought to our youngest son during the film as an especially fun treat. Once we arrived , geared up at the cinema, we reached our first disappointment before even paying for the film. The Directors Lounge/Bar option wasn’t available for children’s films. If there is any small print on the Cinema Delux website stipulating this fact, it must be very small. Downfall number 1 freshly encountered and non-plussed assistant chalked up without even leaving the foyer.
Slightly fed up but with continuing resolve to have fun, I took the children to the refreshments counter. With 25 minutes to go before screening , I ordered us 3 hot dogs and 3 lemonades. A simple task I thought. After having to chase a pre-pubescant assistant up and down the whole of the counter to gain any air-time with him, he then visibly balked when I placed my order. And then he fled, only to return looking slightly panic-stricken with the news that there weren’t any hot dog rolls to be found anywhere. Would I like some chips instead perhaps?? Already I was wondering how a VERY empty cinema with three food counter assistants, two front of house ushers and two ticket assistants could manage to be so ineffectual. The lead roles being clueless teenage dimwits poddling about busy doing absolutely nothing and still failing to carry out the simplest of tasks. Not one person appeared to have had any training in customer service relations or even common sense responses once encountered with a problem. Unhelpful assistant number 2 quickly encountered and there were soon to be more.
From hereon in, the situation became.. unbelievably.. worse! Time ticked on with no hot dog, no chips and no lemonade. My children became fractious as they wanted to be seated for the film, they wanted drinks as it was a very warm day and we had been standing around for over 15 minutes. As if that wasn’t bad enough, being eight months pregnant with twins ( and very obviously so aswell) I was starting to wilt in patience and physical resilience. My expression alone was enough to stop a rhino in its tracks at 80 paces, but the staff still moved at a vaguely ruffled snails pace.
Five minutes until screening time. I’d had enough. I asked if we could at least have our drinks so I could seat the children and return for the food myself. Reluctantly , the dimwit boy syphoned the drinks from the machine and triumphantly announced that for those alone it would cost me £9!! I nearly fainted on the spot. I paid the money begrudgingly , took the drinks to the children and turned on my heel to greet round 2 of the Great Cinema Delux food debacle… not though, without noticing even in the auditorium there were only 7 people; including myself and the children. Hardly packed to staff~stressing levels.
Tired and losing the will to live at this point, I returned to the food counter, only to find the 3 trays of chips had been cooked and accidentally given to another family AND the dimwit kid had miraculously found a breadroll but had dropped the hot dog on the floor. At this point I suggested that maybe someone could bring us the food when it was freshly cooked AND the hot dog should be free seeing as it was now 35 minutes from when I’d ordered. They were taking the mickey to say the least.This request was duly rebuked and I hit the roof with a metaphorical rocket saved up for these very badly trained individuals.
Far from having a pleasant afternoon for our son’s birthday watching The Smurfs, I found myself in a situation which was fast become a badly animated pastiche within itself . And I was the very reluctant starring role.
Twenty five pounds down but 3 trays of manky chips and an undercooked hot dog later, I sat back in the auditorium completely appalled by the nonsense and expense I had enountered . Needless to say, I had requested an audience with the manager. Apparently, he was very conveniently ‘not in’ yesterday afternoon. I eventually managed to strain a random name from a dead-pan usher and warned several half-dead members of staff that the cinema was a complete joke and would indeed be receiving some very truthful press in the following days.
Having researched the place a little since returning home, I have discovered that over the space of the last few months there have been several other hefty complaints about the place; not least of which was a rat scare around a month ago.
The point of my report? I spend some considerable amount of time reviewing events and venues in a journalistic capacity. Yesterday, I was more than happy to have removed my critical hat as I was intending to have a day off celebrating my child’s day. Instead, I found myself experiencing the worst customer service I have ever known; not only in a professional capacity but also in the forty years I’ve travelled around the world.
The moral of this story? DON’T go to Bristol’s Cinema Delux unless you’ve prepaid online tickets , have no intention of celebrating an event or have a caravan load of your own refreshments to reverse in to the auditorium at your own will.
Needless to say, we will be patronising the smaller local cinemas and good old Vue once more from now on.
Tess Egerton 2013