Thursday, May 30, 2013

For your comfort and safety....

Airlines and hotels love to hype the smallest of comforts that they provide. The classic case is the announcement airline stewards make that “the outside temperature is minus 54 deg C, but for your comfort we are maintaining a temperature of plus 24 deg C inside” as if it is one hell of a favour.

More interesting is the way they try to justify a withdrawal of a basic facility or for charging you for it.

Many hotels have used the pretext of ‘protecting the environment” to avoid replacement of towels every day. You can find a notice in the bathroom which says something like this. “Washing a towel requires 20 litres of water. As this hotel is committed to an eco-friendly approach and to conservation of precious, natural resources like water, we solicit your cooperation. If you would like the towel to be washed, please leave it on the floor. Towels left on hangers will not be washed”. The sub-text is that if you have even a modicum of shame, you will use that towel for the rest of your stay in the hotel and not dare to put it for wash.

While staying in a hotel in Australia recently ( 300 AUD per night. Breakfast, wi-fi not included. Drinking water extra at AUD 8 per bottle), I saw a sign above the mini-bar. “We know that you have tastes that are special and unique. That’s why we have emptied the mini-bar. Please call us up and state your needs so that we can fill it up for you”. This is a good idea. Guests frequently dispute the mini-bar bills and claim the items were never there in the first place. By asking the guests to choose the items to be stocked, the hotels ensure that he/she signs off on the inventory.

On the bed, next to the pair of wafer-thin pillows was a sign which said, “We know that you like to use a pillow of your own choice. That’s why we offer you a menu of pillow options for you to choose from. “. They charge AUD 6 for the pillows.

Next to the bath tub was a notice, “We care for your safety. We have provided a rubber mat for your use. Please ensure that the suction grip is firmly in place before you step into the bathtub.” I checked if there was another sign which indicated the extra charge for the rubber mat. Not only was there no sign, there was no rubber mat to be found either. So much about their concern for my safety.

Later, as I was checking out, I was informed that payment by credit card would attract an additional 3% charge. Of course, if I felt uncomfortable about those charges, I could always pay by cash....

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