Tuesday 24 January 2012

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Hotels Stretch the Truth Too

I've been chastised, I've been reprimanded, and I've been told to get my circle of wives down to just one. Yesterday I wrote about a few things I may have not been completely honest about in the past when checking into hotels, and I want you to know that I'm thoroughly ashamed of myself and I'll never do it again. Except for maybe that fridge thing...or the movie thing....and if the hotel has really cool towels, I can't be blamed for that can I?

No no...I've (kind of) learned my lesson, but let's be fair about things. It's not like I'm the only one stretching the truth at the front desk. For every time I've given the check-in person cause to roll their eyes, there's been an occasion where I have to wonder how the agent can say that with a straight face. The hotels are every bit as guilty as I am of stretching the truth at check-in. Want some examples? I'm glad you asked:

"You've been upgraded to our (Non-descriptive term) room!"
Everybody likes to get upgraded, myself included, but sometimes I wonder if front desk people aren't just told to work the word "upgrade" into every conversation they have. It really comes off badly if you're a repeat visitor to the hotel, and know the room types that they offer. I had one hotel "upgrade" me to a Superior room, which was one level below the room that I had booked. I had another hotel tell me that they had "upgraded" me to a lakeview room, but when I got to the room all I could see was the next tower of the hotel. I asked the bellman if this was a lakeview room, and he said that they call it one because it faces the lake, and if the other tower wasn't in the way, there would be a perfect view. Makes sense to me.

"Just charge it to your room"
Does anybody ever feel good doing this? Every time I check into a hotel that includes free breakfast, internet, or has a dining credit attached to it, I'm told "Just charge it to your room and it will be deducted at check-out". What they don't tell you is that you'll have to come down to the front desk and explain every item in the charge to them, then remind them that your room package includes these things. I'm pretty sure that's why they come up with such creative names for their packages. They like to see me standing at the counter explaining that "It's included because we're staying on the "Lovers in Lace" package".

"Check-in time is 4pm"
Sure it is. I realize that this isn't necessarily the hotel's fault, but worse than arriving at the scheduled time to be told that your room isn't ready yet, is the hotel's system for dealing with the situation. They always take your phone number down, and promise to call you as soon as the room is ready. I used to believe them, and would go off to have dinner or some other activity. Eventually I would come back and ask at the front desk, only to be told the room was ready. Then, a couple hours after getting into the room, I would get a phone call saying that I could check-in. We use a different system now. If our room isn't ready at check-in time, our whole family sets up camp in the lobby. The longer it takes for the room, the more rowdy my kids get. We never have to wait very long anymore.

"Yes... We have high speed internet"
I think what's missing here is a definition of "high speed". The qualification I use is "Can I upload a picture to Facebook in less time than it takes my son to complete an entire game of Angry Birds?" That seems like a fairly low bar to set, but you'd be surprised at how many hotels fail to achieve it (you'd also be surprised how good my son is at Angry Birds). It's particularly annoying when you're paying $14.95 a day for an internet connection that I sincerely suspect may still be an AOL dial-up line. Actually that would be kind of cool, and I'd almost be willing to suffer the lack of speed just to be able to hear "Beep...Whirrr...Click, Click" every time I tried to go online.

"Your rate is $X per night plus resort fee"
Actual conversation I held with a front desk agent this past summer:
Me: "Do you have free Wi-Fi?"
Agent: "Oh yes sir! It's included in your $24.95 a day resort fee."
Me: "So it's not free?"
Agent: "It's included in your resort fee sir. There's no extra charge."
Me: "What else is included in the resort fee?"
Agent: "It includes free parking as well sir."
Me: "The guy just charged me $10 to park in the lot!"
Agent: "Did you park in the lot in front of the hotel sir?"
Me: "Yes."
Agent: "That lot has a $10 per day charge. The lot that is included in the resort fee is down the hill. It's about a half mile walk."
Me: "So the free parking is a half mile away? Is there a shuttle?"
Agent: "No sir, but there are stairs."

It took every ounce of willpower I had not to ask if the stairs were included in the resort fee, but truth be told I was kind of scared of what the answer might be. I had visions of a toll booth in the middle of the fourth flight.