Warning – Ranty post including over use of exclamation marks….
What’s the last thing you want after a four hour journey on your own with two children who are cold, tired and grumpy?
To arrive at the hotel you’ve booked to be told that the hotel has been massively overbooked and there are no rooms available for you!
This is what happened to me earlier in the week when we arrived at our hotel in London. And not just us, there were at least six other families scattered about the reception area in varying stages of annoyance/desperation when we got there – more by the time we got sorted.
Apparently there had been some sort of technical issue with the booking system as the hotel only had two family rooms yet lastminute.com had been taking bookings for family rooms all over the bank holiday weekend. We were given a post it note with the telephone number for lastminute.com and told to go and call them but unfortunately, there were no family rooms available at the hotel so we couldn’t stay there. The receptionist said that we’d have to find somewhere else to stay which started Master Frugal crying and had Miss Frugal on the phone to her Dad who we’d left at home telling him we had no where to stay!
I could’ve cried at this point as I was on my own with the kids and I was starting to get really stressed about the whole thing. I think the receptionist could see that I was close to tears as she was lovely and told me that we could have free drinks while we waited though which was a good job seeing as I’d used the last of my change on the train.
We found a space and I rang the 0844 number I’d been given to call and while I was on hold a lovely man came to ask us what we wanted to drink. I asked for juice for the kids and water for me but he said we couldn’t have that – we had to have tea or coffee! I could see the orange cordial behind the bar but we weren’t allowed any. The kids don’t drink tea or coffee and I had no cash on me so we couldn’t even have a drink (note to self – always carry some cash) although I’m sure orange squash and water must cost less then the designer tea and coffee they were offering!
My call was eventually answered by someone who said she would look into it and call me back but it would take around half an hour. She called me back after about 25 minutes and said that the only thing they could offer us was to share a bed but they would give us breakfast to make up for it. I explained that we didn’t really want breakfast but she kept saying that she was waiting for the hotel to confirm that we wouldn’t have to pay for breakfast! Too right we wouldn’t be paying for it – I would have paid for it if I’d wanted it!
I didn’t have the energy to argue at this point and accepted the room with the one bed in it but I did explain that I expected a reduction in the rate we’d paid as we clearly were not getting what we’d paid for. I was told to write in if I wanted money back – surely the agents should be empowered to offer reduced rates in these situations.
Then she really annoyed me because at the end of the call she said ‘Thanks for calling, have a nice day’. I called because I had no choice and as for having a nice day, I would have had a much better one if they hadn’t have messed up so much! I hate when people say things like that automatically – it’s like when checkout staff ask if I want help packing but I only have a pint of milk!
We then had to wait again for the hotel to receive confirmation that we’d accepted the smaller room and that we’d paid – this took forever but the poor receptionists were dealing with all of the other unhappy families – more were trying to check in as I was stood at the desk.
The receptionist was so apologetic when she finally gave us our room key – she said she couldn’t even squeeze an extra bed in there as the room was so small.
She wasn’t wrong! It was barely big enough to swing a cat in and the double bed we had to share was definitely not big enough for me, a ten year old and an eight year old to comfortably share. I was shattered the next day!
It was such an awful start to our one night stay, we wanted to get straight out and about and not spend a couple of hours in a hotel reception trying to sort out a room that we thought we’d already booked. We didn’t have time to do everything we’d wanted to as we had such a short space of time to cram everything into so unfortunately, our planned trip to Hamleys was cancelled. This could well be a good thing though!
I’ve been ill since we came home (unrelated ;-)) and I’m only just up out of bed now so I sent a quick tweet saying what a poor experience we’d had and all credit to them, they responded straight away with an email address to contact them on. I was called within twenty minutes of my email which is great but the lady who called me said several times that lastminute.com couldn’t accept all the responsibility as they use third party booking agents. It just felt like she was trying to blame everyone but lastminute.com which I hate.
At first the lady offered to refund my phone charges, then she said she would refund part of the room cost, then she said she would give a full refund and my call charges but the refund would be in the form of a lastminute.com e-voucher. When I assured her that I wouldn’t be using lastminute.com again she said she would refund my room cost to the card I paid with but couldn’t then refund my call charges!
Ultimately, they’ve now refunded the cost of the room which is great but the whole thing has left me with a bit of a bad taste and I certainly won’t be using lastminute.com again in future.
Updated – I’ve just had another call from lastminute.com to say it’s definitely the hotel’s fault but they won’t be offering compensation (not that I asked them too) because they upgraded our room to an executive room!!! THEY UPGRADED US? From a three bedded family room to a one bedded room and that’s an upgrade! She said she could see how upsetting the whole experience was and she’ll now credit the cost of my calls to them as well to make up for the distress!
It’s not all about money though – a sincere apology without passing the buck would have been better than telling me I was upgraded or trying to blame everyone else. I booked through you therefore, I hold you responsible, your system should prevent these problems from happening.
*feels better that I’ve got that all off my chest*