We booked well in advance as a large group of 39 for a 3 course meal from their Christmas set menu. We have used this venue for the past 3 years due to convenience, it being located near to the Shrewsbury Battlefield Travelodge where we were based . With our group sizes ranging from 30-65 people and we have always found it to be adequate venue given the scale of the catering required.
However, this year we were ordered to pay in full (approx £950) a number of weeks before as well as depositing £200 for potential damages - not unreasonable for a new customer perhaps, but not suitable for a return party.
On the night we arrived and the pre-ordered and pre-paid food was delivered in reasonably good time. The food looked pretty but portion sizes were small and was delivered luke-warm. In addtion, on their website, customers are offered free tea/coffee if their meal was paid for in full in advance, alas, no such luck for us!
Once the food was cleared away we ordered plenty of drinks over the next 3 hours and generally had a good time and the staff were more relaxed as we were the only patrons in the building. With regard to drinks, the choice was limited and overpriced and, amazingly, for a country pub there were no cask ales!
As a large group we put plenty of money behind the bar and integrated with staff politely.
Having put down the £200 deposit naturally we expected most of it back, having not being told that a few broken glasses and 'cleaning up of mess' was a green light for debiting money from the deposit which just so happened to coincide with the Christmas holiday period, an expensive time for all...
Upon leaving, I spoke to the manager who assured me an itemised inventory of damages would be forwarded to me within the week. A week later I had not received any such inventory so I telephoned them to enquire. I was told the deduction from the deposit would be 'no more than £50' and that the owner would send me the elusive inventory shortly.
'Shorlty' turned proved elusive and it wasn't until today (10 weeks later) that I received an email, following numerous phone calls, informing us that £100 of the £200 would be returned (perhaps they found more broken glasses after first quoting a £50 deduction form the deposit, I somehow doubt this due to the limited capacity of the venue). An inventory of damages is still awaited.
I was informed by whoever I dealt with on the telephone that the glasses broken cost £10 each (Now, I am not an expert in glassware but it certainly wasn't cut crystal) which I thought was ludicrous. I questioned whether or not a family of 4 would would charged for breakages if anything was accidentally broken to which the reply was 'Yes' and was told in addition that staff who accidentally break crockery have it docked from their wages. Sounds like a horrific place to work eh?
It seems completely unbelievable that they would charge for accidents! Considering how much business we gave them on one night (and in previous years) it is wholly pathetic to charge us for minor damages.
The single email I received from Steve Christie in chasing up the repayment was rude, and portrayed him to be uninterested and told us in no uncertain terms not to visit again. Perhaps he had no idea deposits are supposed to be returned.
In summary, they were only too happy to take our money yet were slow, disorganised and unprofessional when it came to communication and returning our deposit. I would not recommend using this venue for group bookings, and unless you have been surgically adjusted to render you physically incapable of accidentally breaking glasses then then steer well clear!
It has certainly left a sour taste in our mouths and we had no intention of re-using their services.
Their hospitality is only skin deep.
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