Monday, June 2, 2008

Hell in hotel

For the second time in one year lodging in Paris was in the Cervantes Hotel in the Rue de Bernes near the Gare St. Lazare.
It is a nice hotel, it has air conditioning and is in a quiet street.
Very important because this guarantees peaceful sleep.
In hotels without air conditioning the windows must be opened for fresh air and this brings in loud traffic noise and heavy pollution.

However, this time there was disappointment with the Cervantes Hotel.

Two vital facilities in the small hotel room were not working and one thing was lacking.

It is important to have a desk in the room.
A table to work on.
The room had a table but on it was a large LCD TV and underneath the table the minibar.
Hence, to work on the computer one had to sit in a chair with the laptop on the knees.
Very inconvenient.

Then the TV was a disaster.
This had to do with the TV-cable system of the hotel.
Not one channel could be received with a clear image.
All were like coming from Mars.
Snowy and vague.
Impossible to watch.
It is incredible that with today’s technology a hotel cannot manage to have clear images on the TV’s in the rooms.

The same inadequacy was found in the bathroom.
In the tiny shower the hot water supply was unstable.
Taking a shower resulted in having water shifting from being hot to cold and vice versa.
Very irritating early in the morning.
Hot water supply should be no problem in a hotel.

The Cervantes Hotel is not cheap.
€ 129 (200$) a night.
And for this money a guest may expect a properly working TV, a table to write on and proper hot water supply.

But the worst was to come.
When ready to leave the hotel the electronic door lock card had to be returned to the person at the front desk and questions answered about use of the mini bar.
Coming to the front desk several people were already waiting.
These clients of the hotel were waiting because the young woman on duty behind the front desk was answering incoming phone calls of people who wanted to book rooms.

She had to make a decision.
Do I answer the phone calls or do I help the customers waiting in front of me?
It is a very strange attitude, already often witnessed, that many people always give priority to phone calls instead of people present physically.
Somehow they feel that a person calling by phone has priority.
Such a high priority that people presnt must wait.
While business from both the caller and the person waiting is equal.

It could be a very easy procedure to say to the person calling to hang on for some minutes to assist the customers present personally first.

But this young woman was choosing another policy.
You call and you have her.

Waiting with the other customers for the young woman to finish her phone call, she immediately would answer the following one on another line.
When she accepted the fourth phone call making the customers in front of her even wait longer, it was time to intervene.

Loudly it was asked:
“There are four customers of your hotel waiting in front of you.
Why do you give priority to your phone calls?”

The young woman blushed and demonstrated in body language and face expression embarrassment, irritation and being annoyed.
She claimed that she could not just let the phone ring.

“You could politely say to the callers to wait for some minutes so you have time to assist us checking out of the hotel.
We are still customers, as you well know, and we all need to go to our appointments”.

This made her really upset because she understood there was a point.
A hotel cannot give so openly priority to people who want to book a room letting guests who have already paid wait.
It is the attitude of giving adequate treatment before you have paid and lousy service after you have paid.

The young woman roughly took the electronic key card and said with a harsh voice:
“Good bye!”.
To focus immediately again on her phone call business.

The hotel was left with a feeling it just had dropped off from the list as a place to spend nights again.
There are plenty of other hotels in Paris.
Where the TV works.
Where there is a constant stream of hot water.
Where there is a desk in the room.
And where people work who respect customers.


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