The Lanes

All this talk of bad customer service, and Mary Portas’ online poll has reminded me of an event that happened a few weeks back. (Btw – no surprise with that poll that John Lewis is near the top, and PC World/Comet near the bottom. Although I am surprised you can’t “add” stores – only pick from their existing list. And the Apple store isn’t in there).

A few weeks ago, I went to The Lanes. This is a non-chain bowling place in Bristol, that my girlfriend and I have been told is much nicer than Bowlplex/Megabowl, and does amazing milkshakes. I’m still not convinced that either of those statements are true.

Firstly, my girlfriend and I are pretty modern people. If someone says “you should go to x”, we tend to Google it for some basic information. Where is it? What is it? How much is it?

The Lanes’ website doesn’t answer many of these questions.


A bit short on vital information, perhaps?

“Lane Hire Fee: £30.00 per hour after 5pm”
How can you even write a sentence like that, without thinking “and what about BEFORE 5pm?”

“Guests wishing to pay by the game are welcome to walk in.”
Well whatever you do, don’t tell me what THAT costs!

“Summer Hours: Monday & Tuesday from 4pm – Midnight
Normal Hours Wednesday to  Sunday”
Great. What the hell are NORMAL hours? And it’s December. What time are you open? Are you even open?
My girlfriend phoned up, and asked about pricing. Before 5pm, it was £3.50 per person, per game. How can it ever be worth the huge cost of booking a lane, unless there’s like 9 of you playing on one lane?

We went in at 3pm, to the confusion of us and, evidently, staff.

As we walked in, there were two members of staff to the left of us. We asked to book a game, and were told “oh you need to speak to that girl there”. She pointed in such a vague direction, that we were nearly off into the shop next door. The girl from behind the other counter motioned to us (she was sat down, busy poking someone on Facebook, and we couldn’t actually see her as we went in), and we attempted to book.

It’s busy at the moment, apparently. How busy? Well, she has a stack of paper on a spike, of all the phone numbers she has taken, to reserve a game slot. If we wanted to book, she’ll need a number, and it won’t be for a couple of hours. I’m not sure what business use the computer has, if not for booking games.

Due to their location, it’s going to be difficult for us to find anything to do for two hours. Broadmead is so depressing, and I’ve been to Cabot Circus enough recently, to know that there is still only three places I have any interest in. We don’t have time for a game of crazy golf or a film, and there’s nothing I need from the Apple store at the moment.

Forget that then. Disappointing, but never mind. It’s the price you pay for not booking, I guess.
While we’re at The Lanes though, maybe we should each have one of those amazing milkshakes?

We go through to the open plan bowling alley/bar. There’s no drink menus, or list of what they sell. We’re pretty set on a milkshake, but we figure we might as well see what else they sell. We ask the woman behind the bar if she has a list of what they sell. She starts looking around on the floor, under the desk, in drawers, and eventually finds a laminated sheet of A4 that has seen better days. Eww. It’s all sticky. We enquire about what flavour milkshakes they might sell, to which she replies (after checking around everywhere, oh, and on the floor again):

“I don’t think…we’ve got any milk”.

Other than the milkshakes, they just have the usual shit selection of soft drinks that all bars begrudgingly keep in for their annoying teetotal customers. It’s not even 4pm. I know it’s Christmas, but that’s hardly an excuse. And I’m driving. We enquire about tea. Apparently they don’t do tea, but this is fine, because they have a big selection of beer. Why must I drink alcohol? When did it become law that just because you’re an adult, you must get wasted at every available opportunity?

She actually says “we could go out and get some milk, maybe”.
I’m not entirely sure if she was offering that to us, or making a mental note for the future.
Who is going out? There’s one member of staff at the bar, one at the front desk collecting phone numbers, and two who don’t work for you. Plus that’s a lot of pressure – what if  it’s horrible after all that?
We decide against this, and leave. Oh well, never mind. We’ve just heard a review from someone my girlfriend works with who said “they were a bit hopeless – it’s like it was being run by children”.
I’ve got nothing against people under 25 running a business (everyone we saw was). Good luck to them. But come on! Basics, people! What have you got? How much is it? How do I buy it? And sort out the pricing structure. Even on the higher evening game rate, it still wasn’t worth booking a lane unless there was 6 of you. And then why not just have 3 games of 2?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *