Mum ‘disgusted’ as Ralph, 2, misses Santa visit
THE owner of a popular reindeer lodge has apologised to the parents of a two-year-old boy - after the family queued for two hours before walking out without seeing Santa.
Hayley Walton and Liam Tyler had a 12.30pm time slot for their son, Ralph Tyler, to see Father Christmas at Blithbury Reindeer Lodge.
They say they started queuing at 11.10am and were still waiting at 1.10pm when they left.
Now Hayley is currently £91 out of pocket as she waits for a refund from the attraction.
Owner Stephen Swinnerton has blamed the issue on a staff shortage and customers who turned up late because of roadworks.
Hayley, Liam and Ralph visited the Rugeley farm on December 15. Their party also included two other adults.
Hayley, aged 34, of Leek, said: “We arrived and saw the reindeers for about half-anhour before heading to the play area. When we booked we were told not to queue in the confirmation area, but people were already queuing so Liam joined while we stayed where we were. We had a 12.30pm time slot and Liam started queuing at 11.10am and when he was about five families from the front we joined him.
“Two families behind us had 11.45am slots so they were put in front of us and after almost two hours of waiting we thought we could not wait any longer and there could still be other families behind us with earlier slots than us.
“To top it off we were told to go to the cabin to complain and we had to queue there. They took our details and said they would refund our money that night.
“What happened was ridiculous. It was unorganised chaos. Our son now hasn’t been to a Christmas event. He’s only two but I feel sorry for those kids in the queue that were between five and seven, it could have ruined Christmas for them.”
Mr Swinnerton says he has been ‘intimidated, verbally abused and threatened’ by some customers.
He said: “We are sorry this has happened. Unfortunately three members of staff were not in on that Saturday and additionally we had 15 families who turned up late due to roadworks which we still accommodated.
“We’ve been doing this for 11 years and have never had this problem before. I’m trying my hardest to sort out refunds.
“We’re only a small working farm and haven’t got the staff to man the phones and emails, although during these issues we’ve been intimidated, verbally abused and threatened which is not nice.”
Hayley Walton, partner Liam Tyler and their two-year-old son Ralph Tyler.