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Here's a Conversation I Had Recently with a Front Desk Clerk
at a 3 1/2 Star, Internationally Branded Hotel


By Barry Williams, October 2005

Good Day Good People of Hotel Land!

Here's a conversation I had recently with a front desk clerk at a 3 1/2 star, internationally branded hotel:

Me: "But I never used it!"

FD Clerk: (looking very manufactured in his reply)
"Yes, I know, the charge is for insurance only sir - not for using it, we charge extra for that..."

Me: "But I didn't ask for it!"

FD Clerk: "Sir, there's a sign right here and it's been here on the front desk forever. You should have seen it when you checked in. There's nothing I can do about it..."

Me: (trying to look younger and bigger) "Well, I don't think that's right..."

FD Clerk: (peering around me) "Can I help you, miss?"

With all my years of hospitality knowledge, that's the only rebuttal I could muster.

"Well, I don't think that's right...?!!" Boy, did I feel like a knob!

I had just given Mr. Smartypants front desk commandant over a thousand smackaroos for a few nights stay and he was still going to sting me $2 each night for "Safe Insurance". Not for actually using the in room safe, mind you. Just the insurance.

OK, lemme see...

I didn't ask for it. Didn't want it. Didn't use it. (and they knew I couldn't use it because, well, it was locked!!) But I still gotta pay for it.

Mmm hmm. Yep. That sounds good to me. How about charging me for other things I didn't use? I didn't use the pool. Perhaps I should be charged for pool towels or something.

Hey - this concept of hotels charging for unused assets could catch on!

"Excuse me sir, did you use the fridge in your room?"
"No? That will be $5."

"You didn't look out the window, did you...?"

Of course I'm being facetious.

And when I followed up with the chain head office and then the Head Honcho of the establishment in question (so I could write this little ditty of my fruitless pleading - schmart, no?) I was still unable to make a valid point.

Mr. Commandant had it right. "You got to pay".

I suggested to the HH that this might have an impact on which hotel I chose when I returned to his fair city - which I informed him was quite regular. (I'd love to be able to mimic the facial expression he wore as he reflected on my unrealistic, elderly silliness)

"Perhaps you should apply for a preferred customer card and obtain a discount that way" he stealthily smirked.

"Oh Yeah, how much will it cost me NOT to come back?!" I wish I would have said to him.

What I ended up saying was "No thanks, I'll pass".

And I am.

I propose an alternative scenario to the one I've just described. How about this:

You're checking out of a hotel and the clerk is preparing your bill. The clerk prints it off and then glances over it for correctness. (and you can make stuff up for this...;-)

"Oh," the clerk exclaims. "I see you've been charged for insurance on an in room safe which you didn't use."

"Pardon?" you mutter, now interested in life being fair.

"Yes, here it is" says the clerk empathetically, pointing out the fake charges.

"I'll correct your bill right now Mrs. Somebody, we want you leaving here happy!"

"Yeah, me too" you agree wholeheartedly. The bill is corrected and the clerk hands it to you.

"Thanks for staying with us - we look forward to seeing you next time" he says, beaming.

"OK, but if this is for real then I won't be able to write into and complain" you mention meekly.

"Even if you did" smiles the clerk "We'd track you down and provide a refund so you would stay with us again. We want our customers to return often!"

And you would gladly return, wouldn't you?

But I'm not gonna until itís SAFE.

Take THAT to the bankÖ

Barry out.

You can respond to Barry's comment by going here or to his email address.

 Barry Williams

Also See: Hallucinating for Profit / Barry Williams, Independent Motel Operator / November 2004
Rolling in the D'oh! / Barry Williams, Independent Motel Operator / October 2004
Most Hospitality Help Wanted Classified Ads Suck / Barry Williams, Independent Motel Operator / September 2004
Campfire: GOOD - Motel Fire: BAD / Barry Williams, Independent Motel Operator / September 2004
Here Are a Couple of Points I have Learned Regarding Hospitality Management / Barry Williams, Independent Motel Operator / July 2004

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