Watch out for your balls at Lucky Strike

Dear Lucky Strike Bowling Alley,
When I first heard that my friend was having his 30th birthday party at your bowling lanes, I was very excited. I’d seen your location open many months before, glitzy and glamy, full of beautiful people, a great looking lounge-style bar, souped-up bowling lanes, and pretty colors all around. While your prices were a bit on the high side, I still thought it’d be a fun place to go some time.

On first entering the your facility, I wasn’t disappointed. Everything screams “good times to be had!”. The aforementioned bar/lounge, the pool tables, the music playing, the changing artwork and pop culture scenes on the wall above the bowling lanes. We got to the lanes with our balls and shoes, our host having already paid for our lanes for the evening. This meant we didn’t have to stop by the desk – and apparently this was a mistake.

Because on this desk, on a tiny sign, is a notice that customers shouldn’t use their own balls with your “sensitive” equipment. Not having seen the sign, since it’s only posted at the desk, we didn’t learn of the rule until my friend’s ball came back from the return with a huge crater. When he went to the desk to ask about, he was told he was in the wrong, and there wasn’t really anything to be done. When my friend inquired further, he was thrown out of your establishment.

There are several reasons why this is a problem. First, your sign isn’t posted anywhere but the desk, and even there it’s in small print at the bottom of another sign. Next, What the hell kind of bowling alley doesn’t want bowlers to use their own equipment? Bowlers, more than just about anyone else in any sport/game, are particular about their own stuff. Justifying your shitty equipment with excuses like “we suggest using house balls because they’re a uniform size” is meaningless and insulting. Treating your customers poorly could easily be the last straw for your business, as occasional bowlers like me will never return. You’ll only be a cool club so long before you’re traded up by the jet-setters – they’re fickle like that. Between your shitty customer service, shitty policies, and huge rent at the Block, I don’t expect your business to last.

The letter I actually send to your business will be considerably more polite, but have the same points laid out. This one is here so my readers know that I won’t be doing business with you anymore, and so that I can advise them to avoid doing business with you as well. My opinion might change if your policies do, but since I don’t see that happening, it’s unlikely I’ll have to reconsider.


Michael Doss

P.S. I’ve never seen a ball return catch on fire before, like the one next to ours did. That was a hell of a trick.

14 Comments so far

  1. Gary Hoggatt (unregistered) on February 21st, 2005 @ 1:28 pm

    As the friend in question, I’d like to also point out that the “don’t use your own equipment” postage stamp-sized sign was on the shoe rental desk. I guess that’s so that all the people who rent shoes and use their own ball will see it… oh, wait… anyone who has their own ball probably has their own shoes, too. Sweet irony!

    Nothing like blaming the customer for delivering poor servince…

  2. Ken (unregistered) on February 21st, 2005 @ 2:04 pm

    All “ball” jokes aside…. (and, yes, I was prepared to write a bajillion of them)

    Whoever the genius was who thought “Trendy Bowling Alley” should be hit in the head – hard. Those words just DON’T go together. The best bowling alleys I’ve ever been to went out of there way NOT to be trendy, which is the whole point here in the 21st century. I’ve got to agree with Michael, unless they decide to like their customers, they’ll soon be replaced by another retail outlet. (Cause, you know, we need more of those.)

  3. DanGarion (unregistered) on February 21st, 2005 @ 3:55 pm

    Anyone who bowls on normal occasion knows that you bowl at your own risk, with your own equiptment. It’s just like parking in a parking lot/structure.

  4. Michael Doss (unregistered) on February 21st, 2005 @ 4:00 pm

    Are you sure about that? There’d be hell to pay if a ball return at a major bowling alley was tearing up balls like that.

    Besides, I’ve never seen another alley with a warning about using your own equipment. That just strikes me as very, very strange.

  5. Gary Hoggatt (unregistered) on February 21st, 2005 @ 4:05 pm

    There’s a difference between a random incident of vandalism in a store parking lot and the store installing the “Do no back up” spikes the wrong way. If their equipment actively damages customer property, then I’d say they’re liable. If some random hooligan walked off with my ball, then the alley isn’t liable.

  6. DanGarion (unregistered) on February 21st, 2005 @ 4:20 pm

    Yes Westminster, Rossmoor, Valley View, all have it posted.

    You have to look at it as people that are dishonest have made business post liability waivers such as this. The alleys can’t look at every ball or piece of equiptment that comes inside and docuement any preexisting conditions on them.

    It’s not typical for your ball to get chewed up though. I have a ball I used for around 2 years and it has some nicks and scratches nothing really bad.

  7. Michael Randall (unregistered) on February 21st, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

    I used the private bowling alleys for my graduation from CSUF party. The place was nice for the party but way overpriced. At the Block the bouncers also seem to have a stick up their butt when it comes to dealing with the general public. Must be due to the gang members who frequent the Block.

    The place had the same problem with gang members when it was the old city mall. The city of Orange tore it down and sold the land to developers to create an open air market, which the city felt would be more inviting. Instead it became another problem area after a year in operation. A teen was fataly shot and killed in the parking lot near the Gameworks. When the officers performed their investigation they discovered that the killing was a case of mistaken identity.

    This has nothing to do with Lucky Strikes, but it may explain the demeanor of the staff at Lucky Strikes. Besides the staff can be hit and miss over there. One day they were extremely rude and the next they were extremly nice. Any place that has a staff which is hot and cold like that shoudn’t stay open for very long.

  8. Jerk (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2005 @ 1:08 pm

    Fatally shot AND killed? Is that worse than “superficially shot and killed”? Or is the perpetrator just being meticulous?

  9. Emily (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2005 @ 2:48 pm

    The ball return in the next lane over that stated to smell like burnt rubber and cough up smoke was a bit concerning as well.

  10. Bill Hoggatt (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2005 @ 5:10 pm

    Having been a Brunswick mechanic for almost thirty years and the head mechanic at Brunswick Orange Bowl for the last 26 years I know a little bit about the industry. It is Brunswick policy that if your ball is damaged in one of our centers it will be repaired to your satisfaction OR replaced with a new ball. The only Brunswick owned centers in Orange County are mine and Rossmoor. If Rossmoor had a sign that told customers NOT to use their own equipment some one would get fired. The regional president would not put up with crap like that. It’s a fact of the industry that occasionally a ball will go where it’s not supposed to go and it will get damaged.
    In the “old days” the expression was “If you never want your ball to have marks on it, leave it in your bag.” There have been times in the past when some one who didn’t bowl at our center as a regular would show us a ball that looked like it was rolled in the parking lot. Even though we knew it wasn’t caused by our equipment we still took care of the problem. This policy is not decided by the center manager. It comes from the President of our division, and he feels it’s better to get taken on occasion than to lose ANY customer for such a easily fixed problem.
    And yes… the name of Mike’s friend is the same as mine because he is my son….. and he has been around bowling since he was born and he KNOWS how a bowling center is supposed to be operated and how they should treat the customers.

  11. Chris Stankevitz (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2005 @ 1:54 pm

    I’ll never go there. Hopefully they’ll see this page.

  12. Otha Stubblefield (unregistered) on May 25th, 2005 @ 5:15 pm

    Did Orange just close?

  13. bree (unregistered) on July 16th, 2005 @ 7:50 pm

    that was great.. i wont be going to lucky strike at the block now.. haha and i was just gonna go cuz it sounded fun. screw those guys

  14. Jackie (unregistered) on July 30th, 2005 @ 5:37 pm

    Well, my guess is they are not looking for people who are that serious of bowlers that they bring their own equipment to Lucky Lanes. No, they are instead looking for cool, chic people who will buy fancy drinks and party amongst the bowling. Chill out and get over yourselves. If your a “real bowler” you really shouldn’t be at lucky lanes. If your the slightest bit hip and happening then by all means come on out and have fun with the rest of us!”REal Bowlers” should stick to Brunswick and Hot dogs and Budweiser beer….. no salmon pastrami for you.

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