When I was in the midst of googling blogs of b2b, reading up bridal reviews and forums, I came across the facebook page of Macalister Mansion and was immediately in love.
How not to be in love when the dining room looks perfect in white with quirky interiors, dreamy and classy!
(photo credits: www.homedsgn.com)
(picture taken during our personal visit to MM)
Then, it pretty much went downhill.
I was teaching in Kelantan while Alex was far away in New Zealand. It was never easy for me to coordinate details of the wedding so I have to plan many things in advance and use time wisely to carry the priorities out. I took advantage of our May - June school holidays, arranged an appointment and travelled to Penang to check out the place for ourselves with my family, before i had to fly off to New Zealand. To be honest the place felt much smaller than what we expected but we still like all the fine details they have everywhere in the building (from the courtyard to the pools and to the rooms). The person I had been dealing with via emails and whatsapp messages "X" was all smiles and polite while briefing us through the hotel's policy and charges for the dining room. Apparently they do not have wedding packages and their menus are changed from time to time by their chefs, but she gave us the approximate value of different sets of degustation menus i could expect. We were still happy with the service at that time and the options because everything was still within our budget.
After getting the green light from my parents and further discussion with Alex, I wrote to X telling her we decided to go with the 'chicken menu', priced at 120++ per pax for 60 pax and will book all 8 rooms of Macalister Mansion, and asked for a final quotation.
Despite all the prompt responses before this, 4 days went by with NO replies.
Alex and i really didn't appreciate the late response. In fact to him this is not acceptable for a running business. So i sent X a gentle reminder about my requests. This time she replied..
Dear Ms Felicia,
Yes, we can provide you the final quotation based on your selection. But, as I have mentioned to you earlier, the Dining Room has to be closed for your function and there is a minimum spending you will need to achieve in order to have the Dining Room for your function. The minimum spending is RM12,000 and based on your requirement, it totals up to RM 8630.00. The rooms are not included in this, as it is for the Dining Room only. We normally require 15,000 for weekends but have brought it down to RM12k for your event. Would you like to increase the guests or consider taking up a different menu..?
Please advise us, looking forward to your reply.
I quickly double checked with my parents who went with me to Macalister Mansion and everyone confirmed that X never mentioned about the minimum spending. In fact she was giving us discounts on this and that, which of course led us to wanting to have our wedding in Macalister. Why help us to lower down our expenses only to inform us about the minimum spending later, and wanting us to upgrade our menu and increase our guest list? Plus, throughout ALL my emails with X prior to our visit, I have made it really clear it was a small wedding of 60 guests, and she never once told me it was too small for an event and that they did an event for only 20 guests before this.
Taken aback by this new information, Alex and I discussed more and replied:
The total amount of RM8630 is only for the dinner or inclusive of the free flow fruit punch? If we add extra service in terms of the PA or order more drinks, are those type of expenses included in your dining room 'minimum charges'?
If you recommend us an upgrade of our menu, could you provide one that still serves chicken as the main course? And i would hope to get the answers for my previous questions too.
Let me discuss with my fiance and compare our options, and i will get back to you.
A day later, X replied..
Dear Ms. Felicia,
The amount, RM 8630 includes the free flow fruit punch, but not the P.A system. Would you like to consider getting some Wines, maybe? For your drinker guests. We shall send you the other option for your menu by tomorrow.
And so, we waited for the drinks and "new" menu.
A day passed,
Five days passed and NO menus yet.
By then, I was so tired of waiting on X to reply me. Time was running short for me, I can't get other details confirmed until I have our wedding venue and food sorted! We started to browse for other options and thankfully we came across G Hotel that was also offering packages for small intimate weddings. Their offering was pretty tempting so we started to reconsider..
Alex asked me to send another email to X, so I did..
I'm still waiting for the menu (drinks and dining) which you promised a few days ago. I really do hope that Macalister could provide the information we need as we are in the midst of deciding between Macalister and G Hotel. G Hotel has been providing pretty tempting discounts in terms of the rooms and also offering quite a number of complimentary services. We personally still love the ambiance of Macalister but we do need the information that we had been asking for so that we could make the final decision as soon as we can.
Please advice us on your choices (including final price quotation) for the wedding dinner (to fulfil your RM12k minimum spending), and the final price (including tax) for all the rooms.
We were still very very keen to have Macalister Mansion as our wedding venue and was willing to comply with the minimum spending. Plus, we will be booking all the 8 rooms which will cost us around RM8000! It made no sense for them to go all quiet on us. The only thought that could come to us was - we were not enough business for them! If that was really the case, this is a really bad way of doing business. One shall never discriminate their customers, especially the ones who have been very polite and eager to use your service.
Guess what, the team at Macalister Mansion NEVER got back to us.
After two weeks and still NO reply, it was the last straw for us. I sent them this reply (could be seen as a lil tough but I wasn't exactly pleased with how we were treated).
Regretfully, Alex and I would like to express our disappointment with the follow-up by Macalister thus far. Macalister has always been our first option regardless of the minimum charges and slightly pricier rooms but perhaps our interest in having a wedding dinner of 60 pax with 8 rooms for possibly a night or 2 is not good enough prospect for Macalister, and we have been conveniently ignored for more than 2 weeks.
In New Zealand, we have always valued customer service and efficiency above all else, and we would have preferred to get responses within 48 hours (as expected of a business). Furthermore, our request of wanting to see the drinks menu to make up for the RM12k quota is not exactly an unreasonable request. In fact, you told us you would give us a copy but we've never received it. We did mentioned that we were choosing between G Hotel and Macalister. Judging on their excellent customer service, flexibility and reasonable charges, we would go forth with the former.
I would also add on that we would no longer visit Macalister, nor will we recommend this place to our family and friends, bride-to-bes.
ps. I did checked with my parents who came along with me to see the place on whether you actually mentioned about the minimum charge of RM12000 (which you mentioned has already been discounted for us), and they told me that they too did not hear anything of that. Perhaps it would be better if you do bring that upfront in the future with your other clients.
Not surprisingly, there was NO reply after my email. What do you make up of that situation? Were we just not good enough for them?
As mentioned at the beginning of this entry, this whole recount of event was based solely on our experiences with Macalister Mansion. It was really a beautiful place with great lighting for a small wedding reception, but too bad it didn't work out for us because of the bad follow up and lack of transparency. We found out so many additional costs much later (PA systems, using the courtyard, breakfast for room guests etc etc) and were IGNORED - seriously the worst thing one business should do to their customers.
Anyway, we were really happy with the wedding venue we chose in the end! Will definitely blog about it next time ;)