So that's what I booked. The evening promised:
- invites and party bags that you could collect (we choose to make our own so didn't ask about these).
- An apron for the birthday child
- a book sampler/ magazine for every child at the party
- special table cloths
- fun and games
- birthday card from pizza hut
- add a birthday cake for £8.99 (but we took our own).
The basic is mum and dad can (sort of) relax while the party host makes pizzas with all the children. They then take them up to the salad bar to choose some salad while the pizza is cooking.
I also believe from looking on the Internet the children should also get an ice cream factory at the end but it's not on their normal postings.
You are not told how long to expect the party to last for so we'd guessed at about an hour and a half and sent out the invitations......................
What we found when we arrived was ...........
Although I wouldn't expect the staff to be all 'birthday, birthday birthday' they didn't even wish my son a happy birthday and instead of taking us to our seats pointed to the back with an "I assume that's your table there".
.... now I guess this should have been where alarm bells sounded but having never had a party at Pizza Hut and not having the website on me I didn't question the un-birthday feel of it.
- a host came and asked if we wanted a drink and went away.
- the children all arrived within about 10 minutes of the booked start time (apart from 1 who we knew was running late).
- again we were asked about drinks again and ask for some jugs of juice.
- after HALF AN HOUR I went and asked where the host was for our party to be told "well your last child has only just arrived haven't they". I explained I knew they would be late and that the other children were there on time and if I book a party for 4.30 I expect it for 4.30.
I was advised someone would come and take our order when they are free. Order? I advised that I had booked a make your own party and was told that it hadn't been written down correctly and they would see what they could do as they had not got the staff in for it.
After a few minutes the manager came over to apologise and said he's managed to get someone from the kitchen to do the party and they would be with us in about 10-15 minutes and work with the children in groups of 3 to make the pizzas.... by this time it was 5.15 (the party was scheduled to finish at 6).
when I asked if they would be discounting it for the inconvenience I was told he would do it half price.... now that's fair enough but by the time you add the time in for making the pizzas, cooking and eating it doesn't take a genius to see that party won't be finished at 6 (and that the children would be starving by the time things got going - I was hungry what must the 5 years olds have been like?!).
We ended up grabbing the menu's (thanks for the other parents who stayed for helping) and work out what each child wanted ..... and actually managed to order the right amount of food!!
The staff then vanished until the meals were ready where they handed them out........... and left. We got asked a couple of times if we wanted any more drinks but other than that didn't see the staff.
At 5.45 when the kids were getting restless again I took the cake up and asked if they could light the candle for us. During the time it took them to do this myself and a couple of parents cleared all the plates off the table onto another one so the kids had room to put their cake. There was no offer of help from staff and no apology was made when I pointed out we had done it all for them.
........ I guess it would have been asking too much for them to have blown up some balloons to try and give it a party feel in the time we were there.........
We also took a pass the parcel - aiming to play it while waiting for the pizzas to cook if the kids got restless or to keep them occupied if we finished before 6.... thanks to the chaos it came back home with us.
After we had cleared up (again!) and the children had left I was presented with the most complex bill I have ever seen (and was not given a copy of) to pay, at which point I paid the requested £30 (£30 too much in my opinion) as all I wanted to do was get out and go home.
Ben and his friends fortunately loved his 'party' although I did have to explain to him half way through why it was not the make your own he had been expecting. Next year his friends can come to ours and I'll get a takeaway as to be honest that's all we got from Pizza Hut!
Edit: 8th November. I sent a complaint letter to Pizza Huts Head Office on the 18th October. To date I have recieved no reply or acknowledgement to this. Their twitter staff have said they will look into it but will not confirm when I can expect a response.
16th November.... still no reply ... just how long does it take to write a letter saying "sorry"?? But staff are looking into it.....
19th November ... so after chasing it AGAIN with the Twitter team I was advised they would escalate the complaint ... what then happened just made me even madder...... apparently they have NO RECORD of my complaint. None .... so just what have they 'been looking into' for the last month??
I have spoken to a manager of the customer care team today who has now been emailed a copy of my complaint along with twitter screenshots ..... we'll see what happens shall we??