Saturday, August 21, 2010

I Told You to Be Nice

The Trib just ran an article called "Revenge of the Hotel Clerk: 5 Things They'll Do to Difficult Guests".  You'd better believe I was interested.  A couple were obvious - making you wait or giving you a less-desirable room.  Goofy charges showing up on your bill wasn't terribly surprising.  Obscene phone calls after you check out?  Someone's got time on their hands, and the maturity of a 12-year old.  Then it got a bit sociopathic:

"If the guest were particularly annoying, the clerk could place a huge hold on the card, rendering it unusable for any other purchases," says David Chen, a hotel executive in Hawaii.

So, because a desk clerk doesn't like me, they are going to screw up my credit card so that I can't use it for the rest of my trip.  Seriously?  If some jerk, even at Marriott, did that to me, I would be taking my Silver Elite Whatever someplace else.

Having said that, people are barely more pleasant to the hotel staff than they are to the staff at the airlines.  I remember in Hawaii last February, I was standing in line at the front desk when I heard a woman complaining about her room.  I couldn't believe it - the view wasn't good enough for her and she demanded a change.  Even after the clerk said that she would move them to a new room, the woman kept complaining.  I had to put on my iPod and think happy thoughts.  I was actually embarassed by the time I got to the front of the line.  "Um.  I am perfectly happy with my room.  Can you break this into singles, please?  I'd like to leave something for housekeeping."

I have twice requested a room change.  The first time was in a Best Western in Oklahoma where I stopped for the night in the middle of a horrid rainstorm on a roadtrip to Texas.  They were pretty full and I obviously didn't have a reservation.  I got to the room and it hadn't been cleaned after the previous guests had checked out.  The second was a ground floor room that had bugs everywhere.  Big bugs.  In both cases, the front desk was perfectly pleasant and took care of me right away.

I can only remember once being overtly snotty to a hotel employee.  It was the shipping department of Caesar's Palace and they had lost my meeting materials box.  I regret being short with the staff, and I apologized for it to the Manager that was finally called.  Incidentally, he didn't accept that the hotel was responsible for the loss and wouldn't even comp us for the copies we made in trying to recreate the contents.

The point here is that we seem to have fallen into a pattern of mentally dehumanizing service employees.  Retail, restaurant and hospitality staff have exhausting gigs and while I don't approve of passive-aggressive behavior, I certainly don't think they need to be doing any favors for customers that don't appreciate them.  So personally, I will be slapping a smile on my face and saying "Please" and "Thank you" to everyone I see behind a counter.  And saving my glares for the jerks that bogart the overhead bins.

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