The Ferry Boat Inn
Hayling Island, Hampshire, Mitchells and Butlers
The Ferry Boat Inn is a pub and restaurant at the western tip of Hayling Island, just past the Hayling Golf Club course. South of the Ferry Boat is a bird sanctuary and just the other side of the road is the ferry to Portsmouth.
Not long afterwards, I took Jo, my wife, for a meal. That was an evening we both regretted.
The food was atrocious; the crockery chipped and cracked. The staff’s clothing did not look particularly clean either. The evening was rounded off in similar vein when a somewhat scruffy looking member of staff came round with a tatty old brown plastic bowl from the kitchen in which he collected the used plates and cutlery.
A characteristic of the Ferry Boat is that it is not cheap, quite expensive in fact. A bottle of non-alcoholic Clausthaler is £1-75. That compares with different brands non-alcoholic drinks at the Old House at Home, Southsea, and The Forest of Bere, Denmead, which cost £1-20 and £1-30, respectively. In contrast my colleagues pint of Carlsberg was £2-05.
Similarly, fairly recently, the cost of a game of Pool jumped from 75p to £1.
That was about the time I overheard part of a conversation between a man and woman, the former being, apparently, a representative of the owners and the latter a member of the local staff. The man said, effectively, "Those are the targets and they have to me met". I always thought a target was something you aimed at and tried to hit. The implication appeared to be, as elsewhere in current society, financial gain is all with fair deals and customer satisfaction somewhere behind.
It was the first time that Don and I had been to the Ferry boat for many months. There was a sign at the entrance to the car park with something on it about a £2 charge for parking and to pay at the kiosk. There was no kiosk and it made little sense to charge customers to park their cars and than spend money in the pub. I told Don I would park the car and go back to ask the somewhat scruffy man who was wandering near the car park entrance and seemed to have something to do with it.
it had simply been a matter of parking the car in the free car
In the process of paying for my expensive Clausthaler, iI asked the barman for the address of the owners of the Ferry boat and said it was because i had been physically threatened. He, at first, said something along the lines of the car park attendant not working for the Ferry Boat, rapidly realised that was untenable and obliged by promising to bring me the address later, which he did; though just afterwards I noticed that the name of the owners was given on the receipt for my drink as Mitchells and Butlers along with the address, contact details and Web Site (www.mbplc.com), along with the usual expensive to use 0870 telephone number, specifically 0870 609 3000.
Sometime later, between our games of Pool, the car park attendant walked in and gave a typical surly look as he passed us, directed at me rather than Don.
That evening (Tuesday 12th July 2005) I sent an E-mail to the Customer Services Department of Mitchells and Butlers. By the following Tuesday (19th July 2005) when this Web Site page had been completed, no reply had been received.
I had noticed, on the Mitchells and Butlers Web Site, that, among the establishments the Company owned, were Harvester Restaurants, which are quite pleasant establishments with good food; something of a contrast to our Ferry Boat Inn experience.
There is rarely any point in going any but the top; though if you are dealing with a Borough Council, Business Link, etc., that can get you absolutely nowhere anyway.
However, on that basis I sent an E-mail to Guest Care at Mitchells and Butlers, asking for the name and address of the Chief Executive. Several days later I received a reply, from Diane Corbett of "Guest Services", though not providing the information for which I had asked.
resorted to an Internet Search for the Chief Executive of Mitchells
and Butlers and found what I wanted on another page of the Company's
Web Site (www.mbplc.com).