The Call That Would Not End


I had a call from an old woman who lives in the apartments next door to the hotel. She was one of the most difficult people I have had to talk to over the phone in quite a while. Elderly people are a lot like kids, they tend to complain about things while giving very little information to make their complaint something understandable, while thinking that they are telling you everything you need to know, with the addition of being mostly deaf, and more irritable. I answered the phone clearly.
“What? Are you there? I can’t hear anything… Now listen! Are you there or not?”
I spoke a bit louder into the mouthpiece, and kept asking if she could hear me. She kept complaining about the volume.
“It sounds like someone is there, speak up!”
“Hello? I can hear you just fine, are you having trouble hearing me?”
“Oh! There you are. Now listen! I just spoke to the guy, and he just told me I had to pay him a hundred-forty-dollars for one night at your hotel, and he said he was going to charge my card for it immediately! I’m not paying anyone a dime before I even arrive! What the hell is this world coming to? Now, I need a room for the 18th, and I want to check out on the 19th, and that guy is trying to make me pay for the room right now!”
“Did you try making the reservation online?”
“No! I was talking to him!”
“Unfortunately, I don’t know who you spoke to, or how you contacted him. What number did you call to make that reservation?”
“I don’t know! I called the number it gave me.”
She must have looked for a room online, and dialed the 1-800 number listed on whatever website she chose. I tried moving past the mystery man she spoke to, and checked availability for the 18th.
“It looks like I do have rooms for the 18th, and it appears all we have available for that night, are suites at a rate of one-fifty-four.
“A hundred-fifty-four dollars! Why the heck are you charging me more than the other guy!”
“That is the rate for out suites, unfortunately, all of our standard rooms are reserved.”
“I was told by the guy, that he was going to take a hundred-forty-dollars right now! I asked him why he was going to make me pay right now, and he told me it was because I was making the reservation online! Now you’re going to charge me more?”
It was making a bit more sense after she said that. She did call a third party, and they were billing her for a prepaid reservation. I explained it to her, and made sure to explain why there was a price difference.
“You get a lower rate online for agreeing to pay the full amount at the time you make the reservation. That is why he had to charge your credit card. We won’t charge your card until after you arrive.”
“Now listen! It’s just me and my grandson. What time can I check-in?”
“Check -in time is at three o’clock.”
“What time do I have to check-out?”
“Check-out is eleven in the morning.”
“A hundred-fifty-four dollars from 3pm till 11am.”
“Yes. That is standard with most hotels.”
“Hello? It’s like you’re talking to me through a tiny hole, or something!” Just turn up your hearing aid. “Okay, what the hell… Do you need my credit card right now?”
“Yes, I will need it to guarantee a hold on your room.”
“Now listen! Don’t charge my card, right now!”
“I promise you, we never charge for a room before you check-check in. That only happens when people reserve rooms online.”
I was able to get her to give me her name, address and phone number. When I asked for her credit card information…
“Hold on a second! I’m not paying for this room, my daughter is. You’re not going to charge me right now, are you?”
“No, ma’am. We will not charge you right now. We will wait until after you check-in, and we can change the payment type at any time you want. If your daughter wants to use her card when you check-in, we can change it without ever charging yours.”
“Great!”
“Can I have your credit card number, please?”
“Hold on!” Holy shit! Just give me your stupid card number! “Do you have a pool?”
“Yes, we have a heated, indoor pool open from 7am until 11pm every day. We also have a full hot breakfast, with eggs, sausage, pancakes…”
“I’m not paying you right now!”
“Nope, not right now.”
“Alright, now I have a question.” No, we won’t charge you now! Yes, we have a pool! Breakfast is free! Give me your frigging card number!
“I’m happy to answer anything you like.”
“When can I check-in?” I’m sending my Grandmother to your house to kick your ass!
“Check-in is at 3pm.”
We talked again about what time she can check-in, and again about what time she can check-out. After that, I was ready to throw the phone across the lobby.
“Okay, now, my daughter is paying for the room. I’m just making the arrangements. How do I make sure she can pay, and not have it charged to my card?”
Do you remember the movie Groundhog Day? I felt like I entered that crazy loop; doomed to repeat everything until I realized the major changes I needed to make in my life. Where did I go wrong?
“Not a problem. In fact, we can change the payment type at any time, and we won’t charge your card at all. I only need your card as a way to guarantee the room is held for you. If you want to change the way that you pay, then you can. I promise. I also promise that you can cancel the room up until 2pm on the day of your arrival, and we will not charge you anything.”
“Oh! So if I cancel before I check-in, I will get a refund?”
“Yes.” It’s not prepaid! You aren’t getting charged yet! Just breath…. It’s almost over.
She finally gave me her card information. I typed it in, and started reading her confirmation number to her.
“Bullshit!” Now what? Dammit!
“Pardon me?”
“You can’t let me have a room before three o’clock?”
“That is the time for checking-in. If we have a room available before then, we will try to accommodate you, but I cannot guarantee an early check-in”
“Okay, that’s fine… Do you have a pool?”
I had everything I needed from her. All I had to do was get her off the line. I decided to call myself at work. I picked up my cell phone, and I called the desk.
“Yup, it’s big, and warm, and you can swim in it all day. Unfortunately, I have to take this incoming call. It was wonderful chatting with you. We look forward to meeting you.”
I didn’t give her a chance to say anything else, and disconnected the call. Everything is fine now. I don’t work on the day she is checking-in.

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