I just got back from a business trip to London which was really interesting from the business point of view and a nice chance as well to catch up with a few Cocooners and friends. Given the recent issues with Alitalia strikes, lack of seats on alternative flights and my somewhat cheapskate attitude (yes, no matter the fact I’m traveling on company expenses, I’m fed up with being ripped off by expensive airlines: thanks for asking), I decided to give Easyjet a try.
During the reservation process I found out that the airline has partnered with some large network to provide hotel reservations as well. A quick check revealed that their site had indeed some excellent fares and I was able to find a nice deal at the Danubius Regent’s Park, a four stars hotel in central London.
Being a breakfast junkie, and given the low fare anyway, I also decided to pony up some more cash and indulge my craving for the “full english breakfast” option. When I woke up this morning I already had a mouth-watering feeling of sizzling fat and cholesterol waiting for me at the hotel restaurant, which definitely was too good to be true. Due to some mismanagement of my records the gentleman at the door informed me that my reservation included just plain and dumb continental breakfast: no matter what I thought my reservation was including, all I could have was some coffee and a croissant and no, it was no use for him trying to check with the front desk since the Mighty Records in front of him were clearly labeling myself as a continental customer.
Being on a business trip with a tight schedule, I didn’t have time to get back to my room and bring some proof to the guy that would allow me to enter the fabulous world of fried stuff: considering that it could well be that I was wrong after all, I just sat down and swallowed my lousy croissant and coffee silently envying the guys in front of me who were ingurgitating embarassing quantities of greasy matter.
Upon checkout I asked the hotel to double check my data, and eventually they dug my original reservation which indeed included my Bill of Rights to Unhealthy Morning Food. They apologized about the inconvenience but they firmly refused to reimburse the difference since I already paid the full amount in advance and they weren’t allowed to return any cash. Now, if you know me you’re well aware I’m not going to starve because I had a croissant instead than a full fry-up, and my company isn’t going to bankrupt for a few euros of difference that went down the drain instead than being transformed in calories and fat, but this is exactly the kind of disturbing stuff that makes me mad.
I really can’t understand what’s the problem for companies in reimbursing customers when they mess up with us: when something goes wrong all we get are excuses, apologies and, if we’re lucky, some kind of coupon/voucher which assumes that we’re going to give the suckers a chance to rip us off again. More specifically, I’m now questioning the whole process of paying travel fees in advance when there is no way to recover from mistakes made by others. I’m wondering what would happen in more serious cases such as a room downgrade, a reservation not being honored or some other gross mismanagement. The lack of reimbursement policies is somewhat scary, and I’m definitely considering getting back to more traditional travel reservations that don’t require upfront payment. And most definitely my next trip to the UK will include breakfast at the pub!