A children’s laser tag party that didn’t meet a B.C. lawyer’s expectations landed in small claims court earlier this month – with the self-represented attorney suing over what she called a disappointing celebration.
Civil Resolution Tribunal documents show that Sarah Pivnick attempted to claim $350 in costs, alleging breach of contract against Planet Lazer Entertainment, which owns arcades in Richmond, Langley, Kelowna and elsewhere.
According to the Jan. 5 decision, Pivnick went online in May 2022 to book a child’s party for June 5. It’s agreed upon that she booked the “Ultimate Birthday Experience,” for $248, which included two laser tag games for eight guests, as well as pizza, beverages, a decorated party room and an ice cream cake.
Shortly after making the reservation, a Planet Lazer employee phoned Pivnick to confirm the details. Tribunal member Eric Regehr determined that in this call, Pivnick ordered extra pizza and paid a $100 deposit.
On the day of the party, Pivnick upgraded parts of her original package, including that 13 people – 10 children and 3 adults – would be playing laser tag, as well as ordering an additional pizza and increasing the size of the two included in her original booking. This brought her costs to $465.50.
At the core of Pivnick’s claims lay four issues: the cost of the adult players, an outside food charge, non-functioning vests and a dispute over the ordering – or not – of loot bags.
In the end, Regehr only accepted the discrepancy in cost for the three adults to join the children in the tag arena.
While the adults only decided to play laser tag when they arrived that day, Pivnick argues that they should have been charged $20 for their two games – as per the normal game rates – versus the $32.50 birthday price that Planet Lazer charged.
Regehr agreed that adults were unlikely to receive any of the other benefits beyond the games, such as pizza and cake, and that the company was only entitled to charge for the laser tag portion.
Pivnick also argued to the tribunal that two of the vests did not work and said there should have been a discount – to the tune of $40. Planet Lazer said there was no record of the malfunctions. For this, Regehr disagreed, primarily due to lack of evidence.
Because she brought a vegetable platter for inside the party room, Planet Lazer charged Pivnick a “food surcharge fee” at $25. Planet Lazer said there is a pop-up window that informs guests of this fee for outside food upon booking online.
Pivnick argued that she had attended a party at an adjacent trampoline park, also owned by Planet Lazer, where her friend was able to bring in outside food for no such charge. She also argued that the company doesn’t offer vegetable platters, so it shouldn’t be considered outside food.
Regehr disagreed, noting that the Planet Lazer took considerable steps to let a visitor know about this part of the contract.
Both Pivnick and representatives of Planet Lazer disputed whether or not Pivnick requested loot bags for $7.50 each. Pivnick, who claims she did order them, entered into Planet Lazer on the party day to find that no loot bags were prepared. Her sister went out to a nearby store and created loot bags, totalling $74.55.
In their decision, Regehr noted that regardless of whether loot bags were ordered, the cost ended up being nearly the same, meaning that Pivnick suffered no monetary loss and the inconvenience did not go beyond mere frustration or disappointment, thus not justifying compensation.
Pivnick made additional arguments, which were all rejected by Regehr, including that Planet Lazer overcharged by $8 to $13 for the additional pizza compared to her evaluation of “prevailing market rates.” She also argued that there was a lack of decorations, but provided no photos or other evidence about the state of the party room. She said the check-in process was chaotic and the staff were unhelpful, adding she had “an unpleasant argument about the principles of contract law” with the manager.
Regehr ordered that Planet Lazer pay Pivnick $37.86 to reimburse for the adults’ play rates.