The Hotel From Hell
The reason why I got into thinking about this is because this week, I found myself in a supposedly swank hotel in Lapu Lapu City in Cebu. I was billeted in the hotel by my client (I was there for a consulting business). The hotel is rather new - one of those late additions to an area that is seeing a major growth spurt. It is located a few meters away from the gate of an export processing zone. Proof of the fact (at least one) was the fact that the hotel swarmed with local celebrities while I was there. I had breakfast (no, we were not on the same table, but we were close enough to throw pancakes at each other had the urge to indulge in a food fight struck us) with Richard Gomez, Raymart Santiago, Joey Marquez, Janna Victoria, etc. They were in Cebu to shoot an episode of their TV gag show and they were staying in the same hotel I was in.
This place was the pits. The suite I was in had a kitchen, living room, etc., that were merely for show. The stove wasn’t working, the microwave did not have the right adaptor plug, a table lamp had no bulb, and the bathroom was filthy. The floor of the room was made of pebbles - what they thought would pass for style - was uncomfortable and worst, sticky with whatever it was all previous occupants must have splashed on it. I am just getting started here. The curtains, when I tried to draw them, reminded me of a dirt road in summer when an automobile would pass through it.
But I grinned and beat it. I should have complained, after all, my clients were paying good money for my stay.
But I have heard enough urban myths about waiters spitting on food and room attendants not replacing soiled linens to spite guests.
On my first night, I ordered room service for dinner. The food arrived after two hours. I asked for water. It did not arrive. I had to go down to the convenience store at the ground floor to buy bottled water to avoid creating a scene. But yes I should have complained. Maybe I was too tired to argue. Or I was preoccupied by my lectures.
But my check out experience takes the cake for the worst customer service. I reserved a vehicle for 1:30 pm, which I figured would give me one and a half hour time to peruse the small shops at the airport (I know those shops charge triple the price at Carbon Market, but who wants to go to Carbon for three coin purses?). At 1:45, they still haven't been able to figure out my room bill, which was crazy because my client had a corporate account with the hotel and had strict instructions to charge everything to them. Finally at 2pm, I was frantic since my flight was at 3pm. This was when I started to give them advice laced with vitriol.
Meantime, the vehicle I reserved was waiting for me at the driveway. Just when I was about to leave, the front office manager came swooping down the lane asking the driver if there was space for her guests as they needed to get a ride to the airport as well. She was told that I reserved the vehicle, but she did not even look at me; she merely insisted that her "guests" ride with me. Thereupon, three people got into the vehicle meant to seat five people. Time was really clicking away at this point and visions of me getting stranded at the airport began to swim in my mind. We were loading luggage when another two passengers arrived. At this point, I was ready to protest but when you have barely 50 minutes before take off and the check out counter is still a good 20 minutes away, you make the supreme effort not to tempt the fates any further.
Then the driver started rearranging the luggage to make space for one passenger. It turns out this was going to be my seat. I took a deep breath and looked at my watch - forty-five minutes to go - not enough time to argue or hail a cab. So I just gave the driver a look that could kill on the spot and said loudly that I wished I had taken a taxi instead and climbed aboard and took my seat behind the car sandwiched between luggage and boxes. Darn it, I should have raised a ruckus right there and then.
Until now, I am still thinking about it - why, why, why did I take all that? Why do we simply take undeserved treatment instead of asserting ourselves?