The last few days

What have I been doing?  I went to WIS (World Internet Summit) UK.  Great 4 days if hard on the wallet!

However, I stayed in a hotel.  This was a mistake.  It wasn’t just any hotel, but for legal reasons I won’t name it here.  Needless to say, it was very close to WIS – those who went will know what I mean!  It was pretty dire.  There’s no excuse, as I’d stayed there before. Unfortunately, I’d already pre-booked for WIS weekend and there was a ‘no cancel’ policy.  Great!  Instead, I upgraded to a super-deluxe (it said) room at no extra cost because I’d whinged.  Good so far.

Arrived Wednesday PM.  Room not bad, but not much (if any) bigger than a standard.  The bed seemed much the same size too.  OK, I can live with that.  Hand-basin took 10 minutes to drain.  I can live with that, too.  Air conditioning/heating thermostat didn’t work.  Well, I can turn a switch on and off…

So far, so bad.  Skipped dinner as I was knackered. Breakfast Thursday was good.  No problems.  Fruit as well as gut-buster English Breakfast options.  WIS newbies day’ was great.  Felt a bit superior as been-there-done-that.

Dinner fine.  Friday breakfast things began heading downhill:  No fresh fruit (and I was early, so it hadn’t all been eaten…)

And so we go on and things start to pile up a bit.  Other residents of our hotel start muttering curses about things not working.  Understand me: it’s not the poor suckers working there: It’s the management – or lack of it.  Small things but annoying, like no sound on BBC2 on the TV (it had been the same when I’d visited before.  Works OK at home, so???)

One of 2 internet PCs in the lobby broken the whole time  (When you’ve got a load of Internetters staying??? – that’s just crazy! – and yes, they did know…)

Come check-out day, things got even crazier.  Now I’m a bit OCD about getting my stuff out of the room.  To make sure that we didn’t have a battle, we packed up most of our stuff and put it in the car before breakfast.  We didn’t check out, you understand.

Went to the first WIS session and dashed back to our room to have a whizz and a cuppa during the interval.  Our room had been made up!  On the day we were leaving, while we were still checked in and well before final checkout time.  I couldn’t remember what we’d left in the room, but whatever it was it had gone (turned out to be only my electric toothbrush and charger – not a major disaster…).

Right.  No big deal, having the hotel dump my possessions while I was still checked in, so went to reception to check out.  Now, if you were a hotel manager with several hundred guests attending a seminar nearby who would all want to check-out during a 30-minute break, wouldn’t you put on some extra check-out staff?  You would?  Well, so would I, but they didn’t.  There was a HUGE queue.

Mutterings all round, we eventually reached the desk and checked out.  The price seemed a bit steep, but I hadn’t worked it out in advance and they had this interesting technique of simply stating the amount and staring at you until you presented your credit card or whatever.  So we paid.  They printed out the receipt, attached it to an invoice, carefully folded it in half with the printing inside and handed it to us.  Now, normally, I’d be a bit more cagey and check it out, but I knew I would be around for several hours yet and there was this big, irate queue hovering at my back to I said ‘Thanks’ and beat it back to the seminar.

Here’s a tip for hotel managers: If you’re going to overcharge your guests, stick to those with a plane to catch:  Flyers are in a hurry.  I was sat in a seminar for another six hours with speakers that I’d mostly heard before.  So what did I do?  You got it: I checked my bill.  It was the best work of fiction I’d read for quite a while.  Not only had they charged us £20 per day too much for the room, but they’d also added several items to the restaurant bill that we hadn’t had!

So, guess what: I went back at lunch time and beat them up over it.  There were several other guest on a similar mission:  (Tip: if you get a written quote for a hotel, take that quote with you when you stay.  I did, and they refunded me right away (well, after several creative miscalculations – Further tip: a pocket calculator or a good head for mental arithmetic is a bonus when dealing with Hotel reception staff).

We got the overcharge for the room sorted straight away.  The restaurant issue they promised to sort in a couple of days.  Good luck with that: I ate in the restaurant for 3 days and was only asked to sign for the food on the last day!  And that bit of the bill was right.  We’ll see if they come up trumps with that, otherwise more phone calls and a bit more getting heavy!

Oh, and check your bar bills: I had the same drink on 3 successive nights (I know it’s boring, but what the heck) and got charged 3 different amounts.  Perhaps the price changes depending on the day of the week…

Oh, by the way, WIS was great!

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