Friday, October 29, 2010

Squeaky wheel

In last month's post, my husband explained my strategy for securing a good hotel room.  Unfortunately, things can still go awry and threaten to ruin your hotel experience.  You should never be afraid to point out problems to the hotel staff - usually, they will welcome honest feedback and strive to put things right.  But, sadly, there are hotels that just aren't run well, and all your helpful criticisms may come to naught.

In these cases, you might want to write a follow-up letter to the hotel, explaining what went wrong and why you are entitled to your money back.  Below is one such letter that I wrote (which resulted in a refund) - feel free to use it as a template:
To:  The Management at the Hotel FancyPants
From:  Susan
In re: Appalling Recent Visit
Last week, I stayed at the Hotel FancyPants. I travel frequently and usually have very pleasant experiences. However, a number of problems during this stay prompted me to write this letter.

The first offense occurred upon my arrival. As I entered the lobby of the hotel, I was confronted by a life-size statue of Marilyn Monroe, with her dress lifted up to expose her underpants. The statue is so tasteless and ghastly that I was hardly able to continue to the front desk.
Why does the Hotel FancyPants, an otherwise respectable establishment, possess this tawdry item?  Why is it so prominently displayed in the lobby, where patrons are forced to see it each time they enter or leave the hotel?  Besides being of questionable artistic merit, the statue trivializes the objectification of women. Research documents how images like these perpetuate a climate of insensitivity toward sexual harassment, rape, and other forms of misogyny. I would urge whoever is responsible for this objectionable d├ęcor to reconsider how this choice of “art” affects patrons, women and girls, and society as a whole.
The second problem occurred during check-in. I had reserved a king-size bed, but I was given a room with two double beds.  The explanation I received was that the reservation system can take requests for bed sizes, but it cannot guarantee such requests. Given the state of technology today, it should be possible for the Hotel FancyPants to accurately inform customers about the kinds of beds that are available.  More, the hotel should not promise amenities it cannot deliver. I am appalled that the management of the Hotel FancyPants operates in such a disorganized and discourteous fashion.

I was also upset by the hotel’s failure to provide advertised services, as when I attempted to utilize the complimentary shoe-shine service. As instructed, I placed my shoes in a bag and hung them outside my door. In the morning, I discovered that my shoes had not been shined as promised. Instead, they had remained outside my door all night, where they were vulnerable to theft. 

I also encountered problems at the FancyPants Bar & Grill. I was told upon check-in that the hotel's bar offers $3 martinis. I was even given a flyer announcing “Rail Brand Martini’s [sic] are always $3” and a calendar advertising “$3 House Martinis and Live Jazz beginning @ 6:30 pm."  These enticements, however, proved false:  When two colleagues and I met at the bar that evening, we were charged $9 per martini, and our waitress informed us that the $3 martinis are available from 5 pm to 8 pm only.  I am shocked that the FancyPants establishment would be so brazen in its deceptive marketing practices. To make matters worse, the glass I received had lipstick on it from a previous patron.
I am seldom moved to write letters of complaint, but the problems I experienced reveal an alarming state of disarray and mismanagement.  The result is a hotel teetering on the precipice of total chaos. 
In light of my disappointing experience, I am requesting a full refund from the Hotel FancyPants and the FancyPants Bar & Grill. Enclosed you will find receipts totaling $194.22. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further information.
Sincerely,  Susan