Bowlmor? Bowl-Less!!!!

BowlmorLanes.jpgA couple weekends ago, I had an experience at Bowlmor Lanes on 13th and University Place that I feel I must share with the general MetroBlogging public… It was both unbelievable and stupifying, even in a city where a $20 drink is not uncommon, and nightclubs often sport a 2 hour wait for entrance (unless you have breasts). Now, I must say that I knew going in that the night would be expensive. I mean, it is a large three-story building totally devoted to entertainment, and it is just a block and a half from Union Square! But between the cost, the staff attitude, and the customer service, this place is a total bust, and I will be unlikely to ever go again.

It all started two weekends ago, when my girlfriend and I were looking for something fun to do. We decided bowling was the way to go, although it was already 10:30. We expected a short wait, but when we arrived and were informed that the wait would be upwards of two hours, we suddenly lost the urge to hit the lanes. But we still had the bowling itch, so we resolved that we would go early the following Saturday night and get a lane. The next Saturday came along, and we got my roommate and his girlfriend to come with us. We arrived at around 6:00, and were told that there would be a 10 minute wait, which was fine. We went to the bar and had a drink, and before we knew it, the Cheesecake Factory-style buzzer thing was vibrating, and our lane was ready. So, we were at the shoe rental desk by 6:20 or so, and we had a 9:00 reservation for dinner afterwards, so the timing felt perfect. But, the shoe rental guy explained to us that there was a league coming in at 8, so we could only bowl until then. I asked why we were put at a lane that had a league, and why we couldn’t go to a lane that didn’t have this. He gave me the “I just work here” routine and explained that he had to do what he was told. Luckily, a small bribe helped him see the light, and he told us he would move us to another lane that was not league-reserved once it became available.

So, we begin bowling, and order a pitcher of Pisner Urquell. After about 5 frames in a very comfy and spacious lane, the guy comes over and tells us to move over to a new lane where we will not be rushed. We make the trek to a lane that has much less seating, and a very awkwardly placed load-bearing pole. He tells us that it is all he has, and that he is sorry. OK, fair enough. While it is a bit frustrating, I understand that someone must have this lane… So we continue our game.

By this point, our pitcher has run dry, and we are all thirsty for more beer. We order a pitcher of Sam Adams. We also ask the server to bring over an order of Spinach and Artichoke dip, a group favorite. Both the pitcher and the appetizer arrive, and we wolf them both down. The dip was fair at best, but what do you expect from a bowling alley? After playing two full games, we are frustrated with the pole right in our way, and we all had had about enough… We asked for the food/drink bill, and here’s how it rounded up:
Pitcher 1: $20
Pitcher 2: $20
Appetizer: $10

OK, OK… So about $15/person (with tip) is only a bit overpriced for two cups of beer (not full glasses, plastic cups) and a split appetizer… But, this was pitcher beer, in the aforementioned plastic cups, and a virtual microwave-style appetizer… That seems like a lot for just food and drinks in a bowling alley! I was appalled. So much so, that I felt the urge to pee. In the bathroom, mid-stream, I see a kitchen hand come in to use the restroom… He pees in the urinal next to me, then walks out without washing his hands. At this point, I am sooo frustrated, that all I want to do is get out of this place. I plan on going back to the group, paying, and getting the fuck out.

So I do just that. We round up our stuff and go to return our shoes and pay for the alley… The bill is placed in front of me. Total cost, for 2 games, is a whopping $80!!!! That is $10/person/game. So, for four of us bowling for two games, with two cups of beer each and one split appetizer, the total cost was $130. Now I am pissed! I had no desire to tell the management about the pee situation, as I am usually not one to make a scene or cause trouble… But, when I am getting fucked so royally and repeatedly, I feel I must take a stand. I ask to speak to the manager. An smug, obviously fake, obnoxious runt named Alex comes over, shakes my hand, and asks me what is troubling me. I explain the pee situation, and he says “I am terribly sorry, and I will see to it that this never happens again.” Now, I must add that I have previously worked in retail, I have managed customer service before, and I was a waiter for 3 years, so I know that this response is tantamount to a “go fuck yourself, and have a good time doing it.” So, I come out and ask what he is going to take off the bill. He rolls his eyes, and says “sir, are you asking for a discount?” I tell him I am, and that I can’t believe he isn’t volunteering one! He goes over to his register, all the while shaking his head in apparent disbelief. He says that one of the pitchers of beer will be on the house.

I am sufficiently appeased, at least enough so to just take what I can get and leave… But, then he comes over to me and tells me “Just so you know, I spoke with the guy that didn’t wash, and he is a dishwasher, and the policy is that they wash their hands each time they enter the kitchen…” I just smiled and walked away, but that comment sealed the deal that I will probably never return, and also made sure that I would write about the experience. You can imagine the face that was made when I whipped out a $50 gift certificate that I was going to pay with! He did not like that at all.

Sorry for the lengthy post, and the ranting style, but this really got me pissed off! $110 for two hours of bowling, with unwashed hands and bad food… I still am awestruck. I have written an email to the company, CCing the CEO and COO, so I am anxious to see what type of response I get. I will post it when I do hear back, so keep an eye out.

[Photo courtesy]

3 Comments so far

  1. eric (unregistered) on March 12th, 2007 @ 10:00 am

    All I have to say to that is, “eww.” I also understand that managers deal with some ridiculously rude customers as well…but, hello! You chose a life of customer service; it’s part of your job NOT to be an asshole. Or it should be.

  2. Noah (unregistered) on March 12th, 2007 @ 10:11 am

    Yea, I am with you, Eric. I know you have been in the food svc business, as have I, and it is totally unacceptable that a manager be that obtuse and rude! To me, the worst is that he approached me after the fact to let me know that the guy was a dishwasher, as if that will be some sort of consolation! Why wouldn’t he have just left well enough alone?

  3. Neil (unregistered) on March 18th, 2007 @ 10:38 am

    Totally agree with the disgust of dishwashing guy not washing his hands. I mean, it should be a global policy for everyone to wash their hands after toilet use. I suppose be glad that he wasn’t doing a number #2.

    But as for the prices, I don’t see what you are complaining about. The prices (I’m assuming) are listed. I can only speak for my city, but bowling in a city area is far more expensive than the suburbs. I typically pay about $12 AUD ($9 USD)per person per game.
    So $10 is nothing crazy.

    Food and beer, once again listed. I hate buying alcohol in one of Melbourne’s big stadiums. Half strength beer, full price. Ends up being $12 per 1 full strength beer. Yes, its expensive but its clear as day how overpriced it is.

    I don’t see what a letter to the CEO will do.

    Dear CEO,
    Please stop making a profit and lower your beer prices. P.S. Your dishwasher is cleaning dishes with his pee.
    Yours Truly,
    I.C. Weener

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