The long wait for bath time at Pet Express SM Cubao

Shantee was my canine companion at the Cats and Dogs 2: Revenge of Kitty Galore mall tour event at Ali Mall last Saturday. She’s the most behaved in our Shih Tzu brood, sitting still for long periods of time letting people admire her and comment how adorable she is. My little fashionista is a real diva, but it’s her diva-ness that makes her a great doggy companion during pet events.

The Dog Fashionista was starting to stink, so I figured it was time to make use of the Pet Express Php100 off Bath and Blow Dry gift certificate we got during the TailRunners pet and human fun run last summer. The event was starting a bit later than the scheduled 1pm, but we were already in Cubao by 11:30am so there was still time to have Shantee showered.

After some verification, I paid for the remaining cost for Bath and Blow Dry. Shantee’s fur is still short, so our favorite groomer from Georgette’s Closet advised we let it grow first before another full grooming session. So bath it is. Shouldn’t take too long, right? Wrong.

The lady gave us a number, and I deposited Shantee to her cage. I left my mobile number, and the lady said she’ll just send me a text message when Shantee is ready. About an hour and a half later, I was able to have my lunch already but still no text. I figured I just head back to Pet Express, maybe they just forgot to contact me. But I was in for a surprise when I got there: Shantee was still on queue.

I waited for another hour. I was getting edgy. We were already so late for the event in Ali Mall, and I could see through the glass Shantee was looking scared. You see, she’s not used to being caged — specially not the type of cage she was in where the only source of light was the front where the cage door is. The back and the sides of her cage were solid metal, not the grill type. I think it’s rather effective keeping dogs from neighboring cages from snarling at each other, but for Shantee, it was scary.

Three hours in, and Shantee’s still in the cage. I asked how long before she’d be given a bath, and the now-attending lady said three more would be given full grooming before her bath — one of which was a group of cats. I don’t know how many they were, but apparently, Shantee would have to wait for more hours before she got her turn at having a simple bath. I passed by Shantee’s cage and saw how huge and scared her eyes were. I told the crew to let my dog out.

They couldn’t get Shantee out. She was huddled in the corner of the dark cage. I had to coax my poor baby out, and when I did, I felt her heart beat so fast and her eyes wide with fear. She eventually calmed down, then sat beside me in the waiting area.

It was already a bit past 3pm. We were so late for our event already and she still haven’t been given a bath. I was already frustrated, my dog stressed out for nothing, and we were so late. I asked for a refund, and they told me I couldn’t. They would just give me a gift certificate of some sort valid only for one month — they were expecting me to just go back. SERIOUSLY?! I didn’t lose my cool entirely, but I think they noticed I was beyond pissed. I asked for their manager, and told them outright I will not return to their facility just to have my dog given a bath. We live in Cainta, and there was no way I will make another trip just for that within the one-month deadline they set. Just give me my refund, I said.

The crew and the manager were actually nice about it, saying that they really couldn’t give me my money back. So ok, fine, they could have my money but I was never ever coming back. I basically paid them to stress out my dog, but I tried not to think of it that way and just attributed that loss to learning experience. I was ready to cry in frustration. I guess it shown in my face, because the manager suggested if I could spare them a few minutes to have Shantee move up the queue and give her the bath since it shouldn’t take long anyway. Shantee’s fur was still short (not in its full Shih Tzu glory), and it should only take a few minutes. I accepted the peace offering, and let them work on Shantee.

You know, had I known my dog would have to wait three hours just to have a 15-minute bath and blow dry, I would never have bothered bringing her there. I wasn’t warned beforehand that a dog would take hours waiting on queue to be serviced, I only knew that after Shantee already waited three hours in a dark cage. Shantee had already tried a lot of different groomers (this blog is a testament to that), and she had never waited that long in a cage. The most she had waited before this was about an hour max, but never three hours. It probably would have been more than three hours had I not complained.

I’m very grateful at the way the Pet Express crew and manager handled my situation — they were really apologetic at what happened. I’m also glad they found a way to give Shantee her bath. We missed more than half of the program of the event in Ali Mall, but it could have been worse.

I just hope their management will do something about this. They told me that they only have two groomers and a lot of clients — ok, good to know their business is booming, but making animals wait for hours at a time might actually make them lose clients in the long run. Maybe it’s time for them to hire more groomers? Pet Express has a great facility, and their groomers are trained well. I watched them work on other dogs for more than an hour, I’ve seen they’re pretty good. But obviously undermanned. And please, do warn your customers beforehand and give an estimate of how long the wait time is so dogs like Shantee — who are not used to being in a cage — won’t have to go through such a traumatic experience.

If hiring more groomers isn’t possible yet, maybe they can implement an appointment system as a short-term solution. That way, owners will more or less have a gauge of when to bring in their pets, and the time the animal spends in the cage won’t take too long. Walk-ins will have to wait, priority given to those with appointment, but should be warned beforehand and given an estimate time of when their pets will be worked on.

I’m impressed at the way Pet Express’ groomers work on their canine clients. The attention to detail, and the gentle way the groomers handled the pets. But I am so disappointed with the wait time, not to mention the failure to warn me of such long wait. I really hope they do something about this.

Posted on Friday, 30 July 2010 at 1:57 am
Filed: Bath and Spa, Dog Salon and Spa

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