Hotels & Resorts: A Few Pet Peeves (Part III)

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Usurious charges for making local phone calls or using the Internet are among the most widely held pet peeves among frequent travelers, a General Manager at a 5 star resort tells Michael Taylor.

The trials and tribulations of luxuriating at five star hotels and resorts continue today with two more of my pet peeves.

And they both have to do with ridiculously excessive charges that to me are tantamount to gouging.

Phone Charges

To me a telephone is almost like a toilet. You don’t charge people each time they flush, so why do you charge them each time they make a local phone call?

If the hotel has to pay its telecommunications service provider on a per call basis, as is the case in many countries, it is perfectly reasonably to pass those charges on to guests – along with a reasonable mark up.

But when the hotel is paying 25 US cents and charging guests several US dollars, that’s gouging.

Internet Charges

Laptops, iPads, Blackberries, mobile phones – they have practically become extensions of our hands. One of the more annoying aspects of charging people to operate them at hotels is that the firewalls installed to monitor their use are prone to technical glitches.

There can also be compatibility issues.

My stay at a very upscale hotel in Beverly Hills was ruined by the excessive amount of time I spent having technical support keep me on line. These problems never seem to happen when these services are free.

Not only did I repeadedly have to call for support to come to my room. I also had to take my computer to the Business Centre on one occasion because there was only one person on duty and he couldn’t leave his post.

And every 24 hours I would have to register all over again. Adding injury to insult, I was charged a hefty fee for this ‘service’.

At a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, it took 3 technicians 90 minutes to get me on line. At check out, I demanded that the Internet charges be reversed because of the amount of my time that was wasted.

It took a lengthy argument with the Duty Manager, but he finally – and VERY reluctantly – agreed to remove the charges from my bill.

But the record is held by a hotel in Guangzhou, China, where it took 2 technicians 2 and one-half hours to get me an Internet connection.

At another hotel in Guangzhou, I had the opposite experience. Getting on line was a piece of cake, and there were no charges.

When I discussed this with the hotel’s General Manager, he told me that this was a conscious decision made during the hotel’s planning stages.”

“Paying to use the Internet is one of the number one complaints among hotel guests,” he told me.

Eventually all hotels will do this. We wanted to be one of the first.”

Budget Chain in US Gets It Right

I don’t generally do budget hotels, but I just might consider staying at one after receiving a press release from Red Roof, which describes itself as “a leader in economy lodging”.

Starting this month, guests staying at its nearly 350 properties in the United States are entitled to free access to Wi-Fi. Not only that, they can make free local and long distance calls within the continental United States. They can also send as many as 10 fax pages within the continental US – at no charge!

During my travels in Asia, meanwhile, I have learned that the cheaper the hotel, the less chance there is that I will be charged for either local phone calls or Internet access.

But the trend DOES seem to be toward free access – and I think it’s a welcome change! At more and more hotels, I can simply plug in and log on – without all the drama.

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