Sunday, 22 February 2015

McSpoons and the vanishing beer

I thought I would share with you a copy of the email that I have just sent to JD Wetherspoons, which is halfway between an email and a blog post. Once again I got to experience the frustration of advertised by not available beer.

On Saturday I once again experienced one of the most aggravating “joys” of visiting your establishments, advertising beer which is not actually available.

Leaving pump clips facing forward is an indication to any normal human being of drinking age that a beer is available. Imagine my frustration when the only 3 guest beers (ordered consecutively) were all suddenly unavailable. Asking the person working behind the bar to turn the pump clip around resulted in the same message experienced in around 4 of your bars. “We're not allowed to do that”.

Let me put it another way. Someone within your company had the brilliant idea that the presentation of the bar was more important than the customers experience. They are happy to advertise beer which is no longer available (or maybe never was); cause the repeated inevitable stress on their staff after once again having to appease annoyed customers (whom have yet again had their time wasted); as well the negative advertisement for the breweries featured in this ruse.

I'm not sure how high up the chain this ridiculous order comes from, however I have heard the North West Area Manager being cited by multiple people and one even claiming that it came from the top, though I presume they meant Tim Martin and not some deity. Having experienced it in at least 4 local Wetherspoons I can assume that this is not due to local managers, but someone managing at least at regional level.

What is even more frustrating is that there are plenty of other options available. Advertise the same beers (as actually available), promote your social sites, advertise upcoming events or even advertise how to vote on future beers. These are all preferable to having our time wasted or listening to the inevitable frustration of other customers attempingt to order the same beer.

This particular experience was at your Dee Hotel (West Kirby) and similar problems have happened in the John Laird, Brass Balance (Birkenhead) as well as the Clairville (Liscard). Please note that I've experienced this at least three separate occasions at the Dee Hotel, once during a meet the brewery where I (and that brewer) had to listen to a further 10 people attempt to order the same beer, before I chose to vote with my feet.

Please stop this ridiculous practice. You are the only pub chain where I seem to experience this issue. As an active promoter of pubs and beer locally, I cannot in good faith recommend any of your establishments while you are prepared to trick customers with what is effectively a bait and switch. Of course, I am presuming that this email address is monitored and not just for show.

As a result I will be boycotting promoting local JD Weatherspoons on my twitter account until I have assurances that this practice has ended.

** Update 4th March 2015 - A reply from JD Weatherspoons

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your web form and for taking the time to contact us.

I am sorry to hear of your disappointment following visits to a number of our pubs recently.

I can confirm that our staff are advised to keep all pump clips displayed on their respective pumps at all times, even in the circumstance of unavailability.  However we do expect our staff to politely advise our customers of any of our ales that are unavailable at the time of your visit.

Please accept our apologies for any disappointment or inconvenience this may cause to you. Your comments have been noted, passed to our Operations Department and will be included in any future reviews.

Thank you again for your interest in J D Wetherspoon.

Yours sincerely


  1. This was also the practice at the Spoons I used to work at in Lincoln. Annoyed the hell out of me.

  2. Thanks Suzy. I'm giving them a further 24 hours to reply to my email, before I post the complaint (recorded delivery) with a further complaint about not responding to my email complaint within 72 hours....

  3. Just found this off back of reading the Oceanic debacle.
    I complained to Trading standards once about a spoons that "advertised" 10 beers but when tried to buy found only had 3.
    I complained that was false advertising trying to give them an advantage over other local pubs with larger ranges but fewer free pumps.
    TS agreed and warned the pub.
    Few managers are good and do duplicate in use clips where don't have enough "sorry" headers but too many don't care.
    Maybe could organise a concerted campaign to complain to TS across the region?