Tall, Dark, and Mysterious


The customer is always…something

File under: Know Thyself, Welcome To The Occupation. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 6:51 pm.

The room in the somewhat swank hotel where I am staying on business was not ready when I arrived two minutes after check-in time.

Now, I didn’t mind one whit, because I mostly just think about hotels as places where someone else changes your sheets and cleans your bathroom, and I pretty much figure that once you’ve got that, it really doesn’t make much sense to gripe about the timing of the sheet-changing and bathroom-cleaning, you know? Gift horses and misdirected gazes, is all. But I am clearly not a member of the class of hotel patrons that the staff at the somewhat swank hotel has been trained to serve, because the woman at the check-in counter immediately shifted into damage control mode as soon as she had discerned the state of my room-to-be: We’re so sorry! Your room was not available at three-oh-two, so here’s a gift card for a free shoe shine! And another that will allow you two hours at our luxury spa, free of charge! And here, take an exercise kit that we usually provide only to our preferred customers, of which you were not one five minutes ago, but you are now! Because you have been wronged! By us! Oh, and while you wait, go get yourself a drink at the bar - at no cost to yourself! And if you want to enjoy one of the pay-per-view movies that we offer this week, you will not see the charge on your hotel bill!

Eyes widened in anxious anticipation. Expectant stare. Is there anything else we could do to pursuade you to forget this unpleasantness?

At this point I was so disoriented by this wholly unnecessary song and dance, that my ability to adjust my behaviour to my surroundings took leave of me completely. “Well, to be honest,” I deadpanned, “short of giving me a free upgrade to one of your luxury suites - no, I’m afraid there really isn’t.”

Without a word, the clerk nodded, pursed her lips, and briskly entered some data into her computer. A minute later, she handed me a key and dispatched me. It was only after I arrived at the door to my temporary residence that I realized that there was no reason for my room to be ready so soon, and oh my god there are two bathrooms in this place and I need a pair of binoculars to watch TV in here.

It did come to my attention, however, that even the preferred customers who spend, I swear it says this right on the door, seven hundred dollars a night to stay here, still have to pay for their own high speed internet connection on top of all that, ten goddamned dollars a day.

I considered calling the front desk and asking for that charge to be waived, but I thought that might be pushing it.


  1. There are some people upon whom sarcasm is lost.

    But you won.  (Bet you care a lot more about the story than the room, eh?)

    - Engineer-Poet — 2/8/2006 @ 9:49 pm

  2. Good story, MS. I got to spend a weekend last month at a fancy southern California beach resort as the guest of a major publisher. Sweet! Absolutely everything was covered, including transportation and meal costs. The clerk at the front desk brightly informed me that I could have a suite with an ocean view if I ponied up an extra $50 per night. I decided not to play the part of the hick from the sticks and say “Golly! *Extra*? Isn’t fifty bucks the whole price of the room?” But I did turn down the offer. I ended up with a splendid ocean view anyway, so I’m glad I didn’t cough up the extra money.

    Later I found out that my room could be had for $220 per night, which I assume is the corporate rate my publisher way paying. That’s a little rich for my blood! (At least it wasn’t $700!)

    - Zeno — 2/8/2006 @ 10:06 pm

  3. Wow. That’s a great story. I love your narration and sense of humor. Enjoy your stay.

    It pisses me off too, to pay the nine dollars and ninety nine cents for the Internet.(Oh! ya + the tax). Man, I use the Internet as much as water or light. Come on, you don’t charge me extra for it. Recently, I was at a resort. Was a workshop, and my bills were being paid by the organizers, BUT STILL, the extra money for the Internet part really gets to me. It was then I realized how much Internet I use. My laptop is nothing more than an expensive paper weight without it. I think that now it pretty much doesn’t matter, if you use Mac OS, or Linux, or whatever. All you need is an OS that’ll boot into Firefox.

  4. Yup, you got me, E-P - I care about the story much more than the room. (Actually, I really do think the room is wasted on me. I do not have expensive tastes, and even when it’s not my own money I feel uncomfortable partaking in any kind of decadence. The accounting department at my company probably loves me, because I submit bus tickets more often than taxi receipts for reimbursements.)

    Zeno, I was going to say that an ocean view is something that I might actually be inclined to pay a bit more for…until I remembered my stay on a particular Gulf Island where I was offered a nice view for the vast sum of $60/night, but turned it down for a back room, for $40/night. I figured, and I was right, that if I wanted a view of the water than I could just step outside, and indeed I spent the lion’s share of my island-hopping days outdoors.

    - Moebius Stripper — 2/9/2006 @ 4:53 am

  5. TnT: Me, these days, I just need LaTeX on a computer. (thesis thesis thesis!) Indeed, the presence of Firefox doesn’t quite cause negative progress, but does cause the rate of progress to tend towards 0.

    As for the Internet, try this hypothesis. It is consistent with my observations. Cheap and expensive hotels charge for Internet. The ones in the middle have free Internet. (e.g. I was staying at this really nice $50/night hotel last week which had free wireless).

    MS: It’s a bit of a hassle for me to get a reimbursement for a bus ticket, because there’s no receipt. I do it anyway. Well, municipal buses anyway. I’m no longer sufficiently cheap to take inter-city buses.

    - plam — 2/9/2006 @ 6:51 am

  6. That’s a great story :)

    I stayed in a corporate-type hotel for the first time while working in Ottawa last month; it was a bizarre experience. The pool in the basement was really nice though. As for the internet, at least they tell you they’re charging $10. Being new to all this, I made a call to Montréal without checking the rates on the first day, and had to pay something like 75¢ per minute. There was no little sticker reading “warning: we will fleece your company’s expense account for this call”, but it occurred to me to ask the next morning, and I used calling cards after that.

    - Matt Corks — 2/9/2006 @ 7:28 am

  7. Perhaps the clerk mistook you for someone else? - someone important? :)

    - Declan — 2/9/2006 @ 1:08 pm

  8. Declan - ha!

    Matt - the phone calls I need to make from this place have a connection fee of five dollars. Ask me how I know!

    - Moebius Stripper — 2/10/2006 @ 6:40 pm

  9. Connection fee? I thought such things were called “convenience charges” these days. You know, so it sounds like you’re actually getting something for the money.

    - Geoff — 2/12/2006 @ 7:17 pm

  10. I had the same problem Matt! The $200+ hotel I was staying at charged $1.50 per local phone call…plus tax!!! And this wasn’t posted anywhere. Oh yeah, the same hotel that delivers a free newspaper to your door every morning. Are the hotels getting fleeced by the phone company or something?

    - Today Wendy — 2/15/2006 @ 12:34 pm

  11. MS: $5! That’s just extortion. My hotel had a $1+tax connection fee for local calls as well, but a helpful desk clerk pointed out that it didn’t apply to 1-800 numbers, so I used those with the calling cards (which meant paying a higher rate for my calls, but it still beat the hotel’s). Oh, and I got a “free” paper too, which I rarely had time to peruse.

    - Matt Corks — 2/22/2006 @ 11:31 am

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