Punters sizzle over chips and hot dogs

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 09:24 14/02/2013

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Punters complain, but council will be doing little, writes Chris Gardner.

A Hamilton City Council pledge to review the quality of fast food served at Waikato Stadium on Waitangi Day appears to be half-baked.

The food was described by a punter as "overcooked and unpleasant".

The council pledged on Facebook yesterday to "review the quality of our product with our catering contractor" after Ngaruawahia mother Carley Taylor complained in an email to the Waikato Times and catering firm Montana Catering about her $75 Waitangi Day meal for five at the Nitro Circus event.

Ms Taylor blasted the food as "overcooked and unpleasant". Her letter, posted on the Waikato Times website, prompted similar complaints on the Waikato Times' Facebook page, which led to the council promising a review.

The council's Facebook post said: "We benchmark Waikato Stadium food and beverage process against a range of stadia throughout New Zealand and our prices are similar to what is charged elsewhere."

Ms Taylor said she was served five rock-hard hot dogs, five punnets of dry chips and five small colas. "Being a family of five and on a modest income we felt extorted," she said.

When asked how the review would be carried out and whether a taste test would take place, council communications adviser Natalie Palmer said no formal review was being undertaken.

"When we mentioned ‘review' we are referring to our routine quality, safety and service reviews that stadia management regularly undertake with Montana," she said. "Taste tests are not part of the regular reviews."

Montana Catering's 10-year contract at the stadium is due for renewal in 2017.

Montana Catering managing director Peter Stark said he had spoken to Mrs Taylor about the issue.

"It was her first visit to the stadium and she was not aware that you could take your own non-commercial food to the stadium. There's no question that the food on the stand is more expensive than other fast food and there was a 15 per cent surcharge because it was a public holiday. I don't think her complaint was about the quality, but the cost. We had a very amicable conversation and have parted as friends," he said.

Ms Taylor did not return a call from the Waikato Times.

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Mr Stark said Montana sold 4000 punnets of hot chips at $4.50 each, and 500 hot dogs at $4 apiece, during the Nitro Circus event. He was not aware of any complaints, which would have been met with an unquestioned replacement or refund.

But readers told the newspaper that queues were too big to seek refunds.

Mr Stark, who thought there was no issue over the quality of his company's food, said he had already had "informal discussions" with the council and was reviewing pricing for events such as the Nitro Circus, perhaps introducing family value packs like those offered by some fast-food restaurants.

WHAT NITRO CIRCUS PUNTERS SAID ON FACEBOOK

Maioro Barton: ''Not only was the batter burnt, but so was the sausage and the poor kid was having trouble biting it! I told the parents to take it back ...they said it wouldn't be worth waiting in line again to argue the poor quality of the sausage, so they made the kid either eat it or chuck it away!''

Scotty Gera: ''Food was definitely overpriced and of substandard quality ... pie from the servo would have been better.''

Doug Quinta: ''It is  a ripoff at any event at Waikato Stadium ... wrecks the rest of the night.''

Gordy Mitchell: ''The food and drinks are a ******* rip ... I have taken food back heaps.''

Justin Thomson: ''I think the food was terrible and overpriced! $5 for a cup of cold chips with really bad-tasting tomato sauce . . . I will never buy food there again!''

- Waikato

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