Monday, June 30, 2008

Pageant... the bad and ugly

Now that you've seen the good. My beautiful little girl in her beautiful dress having the time of her life feeling "prettier than Cinderella". It's time for the bad and the ugly of the whole thing. Rather than type it all out I'll share with you the letter that will be going to the owner of the company that put on the Pageant, formerly referred to Mrs Asshat in this post. I have removed the name of our town for obvious reasons and the name of the business.

Edited to add: I know there are typos, this is the rough draft of this letter hehe

I felt the need to express my dissapointment in the direction of this pageant. This will be long but I hope I am given the final courtesy of it being read entirely. I also hope that this email is all it takes for these concerns to be addressed.

The things I write about are not just my issues, but the issues of most of the parents I spoke with as well although in this email I only speak for myself.

In past years, I'm told by the chamber of commerce, fees for the little miss were $10.00. This year we paid $35.00 initially which I did not have a problem with given what was promised. $35.00 seemed fitting to cover expenses of a pizza party, t-shirt and tennis shoes, professional photo shoot, etc.

Over the course of this event, however, i began to realize that we had been taken for a bit of a ride that wasn't anywhere near worth $35.00.

First there was the photo shoot. Thankfully my daughter looked quite lovely and I would later learn her picture wasn't half bad. We were informed that they would be fed while there and when I picked her up she was starving and informed me that they were given a tiny bit of sandwich is all. This was also confirmed by a mom who stayed for the event. I was irritated but chalked it up to miscalculation as to the amount of sandwiches needed or something. Later, when I saw the pictures that were taken of most of the girls I was apalled. Being a photographer myself, I can assure you I would have NEVER allow pictures like that to be printed, let alone be displayed. It's no wonder really that the photographer's watermark never appeared on them, I wouldn't take credit for those either. Another effort to cut costs I presume.

Being a busy parent I emailed and asked about the things mentioned when we signed up, such as the pizza party and for details on other aspects of the pageant in an effort to get some sort of idea the commitment so that I could plan. I received a curt email referring to a handbook (attached in a .pfd file thankfully) that was given on sign up night. Except no one ever got one. This is where I began to realize that the level of organization or professionalism wasn't quite what I would expect of a production company.

Then the pizza party. Again the children are not given enough to eat as I pick 3 of them up they all say they are starving. In the hall on the way out I hear other girls telling their own mothers the same. This time I'm quite irritated but again give the benefit of the doubt. Before leaving we are asked to sign up for the fundraiser. I am concerned about children as young as 3 or 4 being asked to play in a busy parking lot for 4+ hours just a few feet from the busiest road in town but assume there will be proper supervision. Of course there was not.

I show up with my daughter for the fundraiser with my cookies and cash to pay for my 6 pageant tickets. I return promptly at 1:30pm as asked and see an older girl (or maybe it was one of your team?) eating one of the cookies I had brought. I ask my daughter if she was given any of the snacks to eat and am told no. I guess I was under the impression that the baked goods were to be sold for profit for the organization, not for the older girls to eat. If that was the case I'd just as soon had them back. I decided to once again just let the issue go, after all my daughter had fun on the inflatables and her enjoying herself was worth the cost of buying cookies for others. I also begin to notice that this fundraiser served more as advertisement for (your company) than having anything to do with the city of (our town) . It's really no wonder the fundraisers didn't do well as such, people in this community love to give money, but not when it seems as though they are giving money simply to a business for profit under the disguise of something more . They would just as soon buy some cookies at the bakery and support a local business.

Then I learn from another mother that the event had been cancelled the next day so that only half the girls ever had the opportunity to play on the inflatables at all. At least one mother was never informed of the cancellation at all and the food she had prepared ended up waste and she drove around looking for the (your company) team with little girls who were very upset. When she finally got ahold of someone with your company she was told they didn't have her phone number. What? This information was on our girls' registration and was given every time we dropped our children off in case of emergency. They were never even given the courtesey of being offered a day of inflatables like the other girls had gotten.

Then we are invited to a parade on father's day. And our daughters get free time on inflatables. Ok great. A few days prior we recieve a confirmation phone call and my husband is told to "look for the people in the (your company) t-shirts" Wait a minute, I thought. Are we promoting the Miss (our town) pageant or (your company)? And why wouldn't we do the (neighboring town) parade? Since it's far more local and the support for the (our town) goings on will be far more supported there than (town over an hour away)? Oh, because the company is based in (town over an hour away) . Your clients come from there....... The whole idea of my daughter being exploited as advertising for (your company) left a bad taste in my mouth and we decided, instead, to go watch the parade in (neighboring town) that day.

Then it comes up to pageant time and that's when things really fell apart. The paper we received in the mail stated the dates June 24/June 25th. One would obviousely assume that we were to be there both those days at the designated time. Parents and backstage helpers took days off work and lost those wages in an effort to prepare for the pageant. Tuesday June 24th we get an email timestamped 2:22am stating that instead we are to sit around waiting for a phone call that may or may not come due to your company hosting some other party. Quite honestly that is plain rude and inconsiderate.

The phone call never comes so the next day it is. Some of the backstage helpers could not attend so it would make sense that the parents would attend in their place and then fill them in on the goings on so they could be prepared Friday night. Instead we are told multiple times to leave, that someone else could help our child. Now, in no other venue would I allow complete strangers, whom I have NO idea of their history, dress and undress my young daughter and by no means felt comfortable doing so here. I am quite disgusted that your company felt that was acceptable. What if a girl had been the victim of innapropriate conduct by the backstage helper of another? Was your company prepared to take responsibility for that?

My refusal to leave was not taken well. I fully intended however to follow the rule to stay out of the gymnasium, I was not there to get in the way. Until all of the other mothers/helpers were in the gymnasium and were not asked to leave. If they could watch, I could too. At this rehearsal (2 days before the pageant, no less) we receive a paper with the requirements of the outfits for our children. This required some parents to go and buy ANOTHER dress because the dresses they had purchased did not meet the length requirement.

We had been asked to provide shirt and shoe sizes for the t-shirts and tennis shoes. At this rehearsal we received a t-shirt and $2.00 Old Navy flip flops. I had given my daughter's shoe size of 2 1/2 and received a 12-13 flip flop. That's almost 3 FULL SIZES too small!

Fridays rehearsal was more of the same. I was told (not asked) to leave the premises no less than 4 times. One mom was nearly to the point of taking her daughter home altogether. I'm not entirely sure what kind of kick your staff gets from separating nervous little girls from their mothers. Thankfully my daughter is quite a confident child so that wasn't the issue but it most definitely was for others. Again I was told there were "enough backstage helpers to help her" and again I was not going to let strangers dress my child and couldn't beleive I was being told do to so. A friend of mine who is a police officer couldn't beleive it when I told him either.

The complete disregard for others was further evidenced by a staff member tearing a little girls' dress as it got stuck on the velcro on the stage. Care was taken to create that dress and she showed very little regard in yanking it off the velcro and thus tearing holes in the fabric. This mom to my knowledge never received an apology.

After Friday's rehearsal we realized we needed another ticket so my husband went to get one. Once there he was informed that there was a mistake in the program, our daughter's name had been switched with another. There was no time to fix it (understandably) so an announcement would be made regarding the error that night. No announcement was never made. Unfortunately I was unable to tell family members before they spent money on a program that ended up in the garbage later due to the mistake.

I also noticed that my daughter's last name was mis-spelled on everything. I'm not sure who decided that I had spelled her last name wrong and felt the need to change it. We had also been asked the correct pronounciation of the names and her last name was STILL pronounced wrong. It's not a difficult last name either, which is the interesting part. Most people can pronounce the word ever, which is, in fact, what the name begins with.

My daughter did win an award and her name was again mis-spelled (and mispronounced). Although all she received was a little card I think she deserved to at least have her name spelled right on it and asked for a corrected one and was informed that there were no more but if I wanted to I could email someone and have one sent to me. I would appreciate that.

On a bit of a humorous note, even though we are a small town most of us are at least slightly intelligent. Selling flowers 3 for $6 and 6 for $15 isn't going to add up to anyone who can do basic math. Did anyone really fall for this scam?

Add to it selling more tickets for parent seats than you had room for and picking and choosing who was allowed to vote for the Miss Photogenic awards (my entire family was allowed to vote, another moms family was told they could not), which seems quite honestly like you were trying to sway the vote.

When I walked into the school to show my daughter's backstage helper the way to the locker room I was confronted and told I could not. Fine, if someone else could. Then I was asked where I would be sitting and if I had purchased tickets, like I was being accused of sneaking in or something.

In my work I am often asked for recommendations on businesses like yours and I'm very sorry to say that I had hoped to be able to recommend (your company) , however instead I will have to spread the word... caveat emptor.


Anonymous said...

awesome letter Mama! Well-written, I hope it gets the attention it deserves. I just got done writing (and posting) and similar letter to a local place.
Doncha just love buttheads? =P

maryellenlewis said...

Thank you for reminding me why I don't do pageants. I'm glad your little one had fun, but the event sounded horribly managed and an obvious cash cow for a business.