Customer dissatisfaction and other rude shocks…

April 19, 2010 at 8:09 am (Uncategorized)

On Saturday night, Llew and I survived our first and last visit to ‘La Premiere,’ a so-called luxurious cinema experience run by Hoyts. We were lucky – we had freebies – but tickets otherwise cost $33 per person, and that’s before you even start on parking, food and drinks. I was so galled by the chasm between La Premiere’s false advertising and the grim reality that I was moved to email them the following day:

This is customer feedback, not an option supplied so I hope this reaches the appropriate person. I think you really ought to know the “gourmet menu” we suffered last night as part of the “unsurpassed luxury” of the La Premiere experience was the worst meal either my husband or I have ever eaten. We wracked our brains but couldn’t come up with anything more disgusting and disappointing than what was served to us last night. I really urge you to send one of your senior staff in there to experience the nachos and pizza for themselves. Your “food” gave me cramps so bad that I actually jolted awake in the middle of the night, and spent the next 40 minutes or so in the bathroom in a lot of pain. I think what bothers me most is the self-evident lack of pride in their work from whoever works in the kitchen – that they weren’t ashamed to send this vile rubbish out to paying customers reflects very poorly on your entire organisation, being the corporate framework that’s responsible for so clearly under-resourcing food & beverage staff and encouraging a workplace where this is okay. Let me be clear: it is not okay. This extortionate experience was “unforgettable” for all the wrong reasons, and I’ll be sure to tell absolutely everyone I know.

Those cramps? They were so intense that they truly did wake me up, whereupon Llew and I both thought I was having a miscarriage. I then spent the hour between 3 and 4 am in the bathroom, before finally realising it was simply my body’s attempt to expel the evil presence of La Premiere’s frightening food.

Never again.

Food – always an obsession of mine – is taking an interesting turn what with the fledgling mission to make Baby J a reality. In general I eat very well anyway, but I still have to make changes to my diet. And it’s not just food. I took a short list of Baby J-related questions to my GP on Friday, and I have to say, I was in for a few surprises. The first was her ‘zero alcohol’ advice. As in, none: her recommendation was no alcohol for the entire pregnancy. Now, I wasn’t planning on necking a bottle of vodka any time soon – or ever – but I was vaguely aghast at the idea that I can’t have the occasional glass of wine with a meal without worrying about it or feeling I am doing something wrong. Was even this very common, very moderate scenario for the pregnant women I’ve known included in her blanket ban advice? Indeed it was, although then she applied a caveat: it would be okay for me to have a champagne toast at a wedding.

I’ll admit to being pretty dumbfounded. I’ve known a lot of pregnant women, and I’m not sure I know any – or maybe just one – who completely abstained during pregnancy. I’ve asked this same doctor many, many times – over and over again – if alcohol was a factor in either my miscarriages or in my later trouble conceiving, and her answer was and remains a resolute no. So what harm the occasional glass of red wine with dinner? She invoked the awful spectre of foetal alcohol syndrome, to which I spluttered, ‘Hang on, doc, that’s for women who drink often and heavily, I’m only talking about a single glass of wine once in a while. They’re hardly the same thing.’ And personally, I think it’s really unfair to women who did have the odd drink here and there during their pregnancies to dump them in the threat-of-foetal-alcohol-syndrome basket, particularly since everyone I’ve asked said their obstetrician told them to go for it. Her response was that because we know about foetal alcohol syndrome, and because we know the ways in which heavy drinking affects a baby’s development, we know that alcohol can have a negative impact on an unborn baby. At what level of consumption alcohol begins to have this negative impact remains unclear, so from her point of view, it’s just better to say no altogether. Bummer!

She also advised against any marital action until after the TWELVE-WEEK scan, and, since this was turning into a real party, she then dropped the progesterone bombshell as her parting shot. I asked her if I ought to continue the course of progesterone until the 8 week mark, as I’d both read and been told this was sometimes the case for women who’d had multiple miscarriages. Her reaction was completely unexpected. She was quite upset that Dr P’s letters to her summarising my IVF treatment had made no reference to my being on progesterone at all, and she went on to impart the sort of information that gives a girl nightmares. In a nutshell, she said that prescribing progesterone used to be wildly popular, but has become far less so because they’ve discovered a link with vaginal cancer. The link is this: of women who develop vaginal cancer in their 30s, some massive proportion (she said over 90%) are found to have been babies of mothers treated with progesterone during the early stages of pregnancy.

My jaw just about hit the surgery floor.

POSTSCRIPT: The manager of La Premiere sent me a very nice email yesterday, apologising for our nightmare nosh and offering to refund the meal money. I thanked her, but declined. As I said, it wasn’t at all about getting our money back, it was sincerely just a case of the food being regretfully so truly awful that it simply demanded a response. I hope some good comes of it for those who dare to cine-dine in future.



  1. Grad said,

    Oh dear oh dear. The worries that come with pregnancy…I remember them well. I guess because there is so much at stake, one wants to do everything just right. I personally did not have any alcohol during my pregnancies. Some of my friends occasionally had things like white wine spritzers. The best advice I’d give anyone is find a OB/GYN that you trust, and follow her or his advice. You’ve already got the common sense things down – good fresh food, a balanced diet, a peaceful happy mindset, enough rest, plenty of fresh air and nice long walks for exercise. The kinds of things your body needs whether you’re on the nest or not. What I loved was the advice my doctor gave me after the baby was born and I was trying to nurse. He advised I drink a dark German beer or Irish stout a day since brewers yeast aided in lactation. Now, that was advice I could get behind. (I could, he said, also buy brewers yeast and mix it with orange juice. I tried that and found it truly disgusting.)

    • doctordi said,

      Graddikins, I’ve been very lucky to have found a great GP and a lovely obs/gyn locally (although he shouldn’t have prescribed Clomid for me!). I’ve been seeing Dr J since we moved here, and she’s my favourite GP ever, and Dr F saw me without an appointment or referral the day of the third miscarriage and since. He’s the one who didn’t muck around and got me in for the laparoscopy that revealed my endometriosis. He’s a very good guy, and not only does he know my GP, it turns out he and Dr P from IVF know each other too.

      Yes, I’ve heard that about the stout before… I guess the other thing is that the medical fraternity has its trends just like any other profession. Once upon a time they used to prescribe cigarettes. I guess this is the more conservative end of the spectrum, but it’s hard to argue with ‘better safe than sorry.’

  2. Lilian Nattel said,

    I like your email–well said. As for our doc, she is looking out for you and niblet. So that’s a good thing, right?

    • doctordi said,

      Oh yes, Lilian, absolutely. I love my GP. I went in to see her specifically because I wanted to ask her position on all these things. The advice on alcohol varies a lot, and I respect her opinion so wanted to hear it.

  3. Norwichrocks said,

    Wow. Gulp. What’s so confusing is how little consensus there seems to be among doctors on all aspects of pregnancy. Even within the same country, let alone “abroad”.

    But the weird thing about the no alcohol rule is that I bet plenty of women substitute coke for alcohol when they’re out during the nine months – and that stuff has to be as bad if not worse, given its ingredients.

    But then, I rarely drink anyway – I can’t remember the last time I had a beverage containing alcohol, it tastes so foul – so drink a lot of iced water in pubs anyway!

    • doctordi said,

      I know! It’s the range of opinion and advice that really gets me – if I didn’t know perfectly well that most women are told the occasional drink is okay, I wouldn’t be bothered, but as it is, I think there’s clearly room for it in some professional opinion, and frankly it makes life a bit more enjoyable if you’re someone like me who does enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.

      I’ve never been someone to have a glass with dinner every night (traditionally I was a dyed in the wool binge drinker, but in recent years, like throughout my 30s, I’ve been winding it all back so that I really could count on one hand the “big nights” I’ve had in recent times), but when we’re out to dinner or having people over or if we just fancy it, I’ve had it, and not having it does strike a bit of a dud note, especially if Llew’s having one on his own. But there’s nothing to be done, at least not until after the 12 week mark, if we make it that far. The general consensus seems to be that after that it would be okay to have the occasional half glass or glass and as some of my friends who’ve been through it have said, not just okay but damn near essential!

  4. litlove said,

    Oh and the giving up of things begins… I feel honor-bound to warn you that motherhood comes with a lot of giving up of things a woman used to feel were essential. Of course you get masses and masses in return in a completely different dimension of life, so it is hugely worth it. But still. I readily admit to being a worrier, so I wasn’t about to do anything that would niggle at my conscience (and in all honesty, I never missed booze anyway). But I’m glad to hear you have a GP you really like, though – that’s such a help.

    • doctordi said,

      Yes, I’m afraid that unlike you and Woo, LL, I’m not a non-drinker, so I am experiencing this rather differently. I’ve been drinking so little for so long now that it’s not the several glasses I’m missing but only just the one! Oh well, them’s the breaks!

  5. davidrochester said,

    I remember being with my friend Elissa during her pregnancy, and being astonished at the things she shouldn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t do. Alcohol was the thin end of the wedge. It was accompanied by no caffeine, no rare beef or sushi, no unpasteurized cheese … no OTC painkillers or decongestants, and of course, no cleaning her cat’s litter box.

    I happily ate her share of the sushi, but I let her husband take care of the cat.

  6. doctordi said,

    Astonishing is the word, David! Yes, I love sushi too, and coffee, and blue cheese, not to mention wine, so… I’m screwed!!!

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