The Nightmare that was Choco La Bella

bad-customer-experience

I just want to share my extremely terrible experience with Choco La Bella. This is long, but I will try to highlight the main points. For one, I was blocked in Facebook, so leaving a rating or a review wasn’t possible unless I use another account. Maybe this is what they do with customers who complain.

This is their Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/Chocolabella/

To be fair, Carla (the owner), was nice during the first part of the transaction, before the payment has been made. She was quick to reply, and professional, even when she got sick and had a delay in the conversations.

All of these are based on facts, and if there are any questions or rebuttals, I have the screenshots of conversations and photos of the things discussed.

1. On the day itself, the vegetables (corn and carrots) were not served. No replacement or whatsoever, but a mere explanation that it seemed not good anymore so they decided not to serve it. And for this, they said they will refund 800Php, because it’s 10 Php x 80 pax. No compensation for any inconvenience caused, or just for the fact that I expected complete menu as what was stated in the contract but they were not able to deliver. Now we had some vegetarian guests and because of this, they only ate desserts.

2. The photobooth was the worst. Their so-called partner, RDS Photobooth, provided the services. But the instructions will come from Choco La Bella. First, the photo of the baby was wrong, and one of the guests realized it and told me about it. If she didn’t find out right away, then they would have all gone home with those photo cards with the wrong baby. Name of the venue was also wrong. When I asked them about it, they all said that Carla gave them the photo, and all the other information. Because of this, none of the guests received the photocards, which were supposed to be souvenirs. I paid 3.5k, and the refund is only 500Php, telling me that they will still send me the online copies of the photos, and that the hard copies will be sent to my home. They were sent a few days after, but then what am I going do with all those? Send them one by one to all the guests? I asked for more refund, and even said it is fair to pay only half, but she refused.

3. The design of the cake is wrong. I asked two layers of the same design, but she did the first layout that was suggested. And the raindrops on the new design were all blotted and messed up. I have the screenshot of this conversation. When I told her about this, she insisted she was right. I showed her the screenshot, and she never replied after that.

4. The table for the desserts is so small, that all were just squeezed in there. Same with the table I rented out for souvenirs.

5. On the event itself, Carla wasn’t even there. She’s the one I talked to the whole time. Her mother was, who claims to be her partner. But I felt like she could have at least told me that she won’t be there at least a day before. Not just another surprise on the event itself.

6. The food they served is not even close to what they have in Facebook. First, I saw that those in FB have names on each. I didn’t get that, and when I asked her, she said that it is not part of the package I selected. Well, she should have clarified that in the contract. I mean how much is it really to add those names for a more personalized touch and for guests to know what they are eating? Is that something that I needed to add more money to get? I could pay more if needed, I was just not informed.

7. The pasta was spoilt already. The guests said it smelled a little off, therefore only very few actually ate it. My sister ate only that, and got stomach pain an hour after, and my brother in law suffered from food poisoning for days right after eating from that event. The event started at 1pm, and when my mom brought home the same pasta by 3pm, it was all spoilt. When I asked Carla about it, she said, that because it is tomato based, it goes off rather quite easily. I also cook pasta and I know for a fact that it shouldn’t go that fast especially that the venue is air-conditioned, and that it’s not too hot that day. In fact, it was even raining. Plus, my event ended 5pm. So if the pasta goes off by 3pm, or smelled bad even before that, it means that the pasta is really spoilt. Again, she insisted that it was not. If the corn and carrots are spoilt already on that day, then what are the chances that the pasta is not?

8. As for the servers, my mom noticed that they were eating only the lechon that we brought in the venue. I have nothing against that, and I am not one to be stingy on things, but it did seem a bit odd and utterly wrong that they were eating the food that were supposed to be served to my actual guests. And why wouldn’t they just eat the food that they served? The guests told me the food is terrible and salty. When I told Carla about this, she said that because the servers had been eating the same food for days already, they wanted something else. Well, they could have packed their own different food then.

9. Now for the refund of 600 Php (because the first 700 was deducted on the payment before the event started), I asked her to deposit it to my BDO account. Take note that this is a very small amount for all the trouble and inconvenience. It is not so hard to do. There are BDO banks everywhere, and I am the one who got hassled, and as a customer, it would be proper to acknowledge my request right? She suggested Cebuana Lhuiller, to which I politely said no, saying we live overseas and we will only be there for a short time for vacation. We would be travelling around, going to places with our 3 small kids, and other relatives, so it would be quite hard to look for Cebuana. But she just insisted on doing so anyway, and without my consent. She sent me the slip, and because we were out of town that time, and access to online isn’t that good, I decided to look for Cebuana when we went back. So on the night before our flight, we went to MOA, which is a very big mall, and I honestly thought there is one there. But there’s none. So I sent her a message nicely saying I can’t get the money, and asked her to please deposit it instead in my BDO account.

She said that she did her part, and sent the money. I insisted that it is not my fault to start with, which is really true. Then she blocked me in Facebook. When I called her phone, she let me talk to her dad, who screamed at me, was extremely rude, and hung the phone up, telling me to stop harassing his daughter.

Now for one, I never harass anyone and I never harassed her, and to be honest, that was just the second time I called her. The first was to tell her about the experience right after the event, which was weeks ago and the last one was when she refused to talk to me and gave the phone to her dad. In the middle of all that, I only send messages when needed, and we both have the record of all of it. I never send her messages daily, and every time I do, it is just about our transaction, and all done in a nice, polite manner. I never cursed, I never shouted at her, even after all these.

One can always retract/ refund the payment sent via Cebuana. She could have just done that, and sent the money via BDO then. We live overseas, and I got her, because she, along with her partners, provide almost all, and it would be easier for me to transact only one person, but this is what I got.

I will not refer them to anyone, but more on warning everyone, I am here to simply share my experiences, and this may serve as a feedback/review to which I am entitled to as a paying customer.

I tried to reach out to her in hopes that shortcomings during the event will be resolved through decent or diplomatic conversation. Instead, I was accused of harassing the owner. Instead of admitting to her shortcomings, she had all the excuses in the world and even told me I have high standards. I don’t think this is the right approach. I entrusted her with the responsibility of being our supplier on a very special event, therefore I expected quality, and paid for it. We live overseas and one can only imagine how hard it is to plan an event miles away. Probably, she should have indicated these things in the contract or maybe in the social media campaigns that their food goes bad quickly; that they can pull out food in the menu anytime they want; and that they deliver subpar service during the event. It is one thing to be let down, but to be shamed and accused of being the one at fault is unacceptable. I would appreciate it if she could professionally handle this, as is necessary in her business, and take full responsibility.

I have been very reasonable to her, patient in dealing with this inconvenience and incompetence, but instead of seeking to resolve the issues I raised, her response could have been more respectful and professional. I don’t think passing me on to someone else without properly addressing my grievance is respectful. She should tell her dad that shouting, screaming, not letting me speak, and being utterly rude at customers are just wrong in all levels. She actually apologized for her dad screaming at me, but justified it because she said she ranted it all out to him, and because I was harassing her.

I was being civil and controlled my temper the whole time. If there’s anything actually, as a paying customer who experienced all these, I am the aggrieved party. I was shouted at, offended, and to be disrespected in a such a manner is unacceptable. Basic manners and proper conduct should be observed especially in this kind of business.

At the end of it all, it was me who paid for it, and it was my event that was ruined because of her incompetence. I am a very patient person and anyone who knows me would tell you I avoid conflicts at all cost. But these incidents just pushed me to my limits. There is no service recovery that’s commensurate to the ruined and horrible experience of the family and the guests. This is something she can’t undo.

Spring and Summer 2016

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To My First Born Son, I’m Sorry

To my first born son,

I’m sorry you are my first, that when I first held you, even when I knew it was love at first sight, I was full of so much fear that I might drop you. That when I saw you and told myself ‘I’m a mom’, was the same time I doubted myself if I will ever be a good one.

I’m sorry you are the first, that maybe I never showered you that much with hugs and kisses during your first few months, in fear that I might do something wrong, and squeeze you real tight. That every touch made me think of how I’d never forgive myself if it doesn’t turn out right.

I’m sorry you got here first, that I was too excited for all your milestones that I might have somehow rushed you into some of them, in fear that any delay would mean something is wrong. That when you made your first steps, uttered your first words, and those little firsts, while I was so overwhelmed, I was also worried of what you couldn’t do at the same time.

I’m sorry you are the first, that every little thing I did, was based more on Google researches, and lots of trial and error, full of uncertainty and endless questions. That I wanted everything perfect, and got a little bit obsessed on finding the right formula, and focused on finding the perfect ways to raise you, that I must have missed so many things along the way.

I’m sorry you are the first, that instead of just enjoying you do those very first times you learned to eat on your own, I was at the same time, being that usual neat-freak who just wanted all the mess out right away. That during those times, I was always ready with wipes and a number of bibs and tissues ready to clean you up in every spit and spill.

I’m sorry you are my first, that while my ultimate goal was to bag the best mom award, I knew I turned out probably to be the worst version instead. That I’ve lost my temper more than a hundred times, freaked out even more, got depressed on the smallest things, got worried on every single thing.

I’m sorry you got here first, that somehow you had been the premise of what a perfect baby should be, when I know from the start, you are perfect no matter what. That I’ve always put you in that pedestal and thought you could never do wrong, and with you, I’ve earned those bragging rights.

I’m sorry for being my first, that instead of focusing on those rigid sleep and eating schedules, and those times I let you cry to sleep, when I could have just snuggled in bed with you longer. That those homemade food didn’t really have to be there all the time, and a little bit of ice cream and french fries won’t really do so much harm.

I’m sorry you are the first, that I got a little bit overprotective, and even those muddy puddles looked like a health hazard to me, and those hand sanitizers are there for every single item you accidentally touched anything around you. That when I looked everywhere, all I can think is the danger it can possibly bring you.

I’m sorry you are my first, that while you are growing up, you will always have that invisible pressure of setting it right to be a good example to your younger brothers. That even when I don’t expect you to do that, I know you would still strive to be the best brother because that’s just how you are, and I know how much you just love and adore them.

I’m sorry you got here first, that you will always be the guinea pig for everything, all those parenting tricks, what works and what doesn’t, and for carrying the burden of our rather steep learning curve and maybe endless expectations. That while I feel so guilty testing out all things on you, it helps me become the better person that I am.

I’m sorry you are the first, that now when you’ve grown up, I’ve loosened a little bit more, relaxed a little bit more, and became more confident of myself. That you had to bear the crazy adjustments of me being a rookie to somehow being a pro.

These, and all that, I owe you. Whatever I have become now, I owe you. I was trying to be the perfect mom, when I should have known that in your little eyes, that woman holding you and hugging you tight, will always be perfect no matter what. I must have messed it up a lot of times, but having you proved me that being a human is alright, and making mistakes is what it’s all about. I may be absolutely clueless before, but not anymore. And it’s all because of you. You make me want to learn new things everyday. You make me want to be the better version of me. I love you. To the moon and back. And, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Because your birthday is also mine, the day I knew I was born to be a mom. 

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Family Shoot 2015 in Sweden

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