An attractive offer made by the National Trust on the internet for its equally attractive Anglesea Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill property in Cambridgeshire was promoted as an opportunity to tour the luxurious former home of American oil magnate, Lord Fairhaven, free of charge for one day in August, in exchange for staying a while with researchers and giving feedback for marketing purposes.

What wasn’t made clear was that although entry to the house was free that day, visitors had to enter the very impressive garden to get to the house, this for a mandatory entry fee of £8 per adult, and this conveyed by all the nice staff on the ticket desk with completely straight faces.

Whilst most groups arriving accepted what they were told and stumped up the money without complaint, one group of four we know about politely queried the charge on the basis that the offer on the internet was misleading, and equally politely asked for the address of the National Trust’s head office, so that they could make a polite complaint.

This polite but firm approach paid them dividends with the helpful National Trust supervisor (one of NT’s unpaid volunteers?) on duty who then offered them 4 free £12 tickets for the house and gardens, telling them that they were the only group that had complained.

Fine, and the group of four had a really enjoyable day there, including the free tour of the gardens led by a vey knowledgeable guide, an unpaid NT volunteer. But some questions are: How many people expecting a completely free day drove there, wouldn’t or couldn’t pay the fee and drove home, thereby wasting fuel and their time? How many did pay up, rather than waste their time and money? And how many will the very rich directors of the National Trust be compensating, and when?

We should be told……….

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