Santa's elf resigns after parents swear at Grotto staff over invalid Groupon offer
Published 02/12/2011 | 12:57
FOUL-mouthed parents verbally abused Santa's elves and fairies at a Christmas grotto when they heard their Groupon deal promising a magical Christmas train ride was invalid.
The parents had come down to the grotto in York with their vouchers from Newcastle during last weekend's St Nicholas Fayre: St Nicholas' Fayre Christmas Market in York, 2010
The grumpy grotto group shouted at a woman dressed as a Christmas Tree and upset staff so much that one of the elves resigned.
Penny Ward, who organised the grotto, was shocked when almost 2,000 families turned up with vouchers from the discount website Groupon, which had mistakenly sent an email to customers saying that there would be a train ride around the winter wonderland.
When parents discovered there was no train ride, and the queues to the grotto became so long that their children couldn't get in, some parents began swearing at staff, who were dressed as elves, fairies and a Christmas tree.
Penny said: "One man even verbally threatened the lady who is dressed as a Christmas tree.
"One of the elves was so upset that she has resigned. It was a complete nightmare. Children were crying and upset."
Organiser Penny said most of the abusive parents had come down to the grotto in York with their vouchers from Newcastle during last weekend's St Nicholas Fayre, a popular Christmas market in the picturesque city.
She said the grotto was only able to handle 40 children an hour, but dedicated staff had worked beyond their normal hours and without breaks to try to ensure excited children did not miss out.
Penny had initially been contacted by Groupon and agreed to use its services to help publicise the grotto, but she claimed she had never signed a contract and had never said there would be a train ride.
She thought the York grotto, which runs in York's winter wonderland until Christmas Eve, might have been mixed up with a grotto she ran in Hull, where there was a train ride.
A Groupon spokesman said: "Owing to a technical error, we apologise that the picture and wording used in this promotion may have indicated that a train ride was available at York Winter Wonderland when this wasn't the case. We regret any disappointment this may have caused.
"Although advanced booking is not essential, preferred time slots cannot be guaranteed without prior booking and are subject to availability. We hope that this hasn't taken away from the Santa's grotto experience and we wish everyone a happy holiday season."
The organisation said it corrected the promotion immediately as soon as it discovered the error and had yesterday sent out a bulk email clarifying what was included in the promotion for customers that were yet to redeem their vouchers.
Groupon is an international organisation which uses collective buying power to offer huge discounts on things to do, eat, see and buy.