Copyright November 23, 2008 4:13 AM CST
By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti
Updated September 22, 2009 5:18 AM CST
Copyright September 22, 2009 5:18 AM CST
By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti
Everything in this article, unfortunately, is based on real life
Before I say
anything, let me mention that, in my younger days, I worked, for a time, as a
hotel employee. Now, it goes without saying that not all hotel employees
are stupid but we have run into enough of them that an article about the stupid
ones is warranted. Here’s the problem, in general terms:
Some hotel employees (hotel managers are also hotel employees)
do not understand how credit cards work.
These hotel employees do not know that when you charge a
credit card and, then, refund the charge, you have temporarily and virtually
ROBBED THE CREDIT CARD HOLDER, THE HOTEL GUEST, OF (A PART OR ALL) OF THEIR
I think a real life
example is in order:
On November 16, 2008, I was
incorrectly charged $300.00 in room charges; then, on November 17, 2008 the
$300.00 was refunded. Now, credit card companies do not accept refunded
money as available credit for 3 to 5 business days (in worst case scenarios 15
business days) from the date of the refund. Today is November 23,
2008. 4 business days have passed since the credit card refund.
Currently, the $300.00 is not showing up as available credit. If all goes
well, it will show up as available credit on Monday, November 24, 2008, which
is 5 business days from the day of the credit card refund. In the
meantime, if I didn’t have another credit card, I would have to starve for a
couple of days until I got my available credit back on the
charged-then-refunded credit card. Now, there is an additional problem in
this particular case. The only means available to pay for the hotel is
the money that has yet to be accepted as available credit by the credit card
company. The particular hotel I am staying at does not worry about a
1-day delay in payment by reliable hotel guests like myself but I HAVE TO PUT
UP WITH THE WORRY THAT I WILL ENCOUNTER AN INEXPERIENCED HOTEL EMPLOYEE WHO WILL
KICK ME OUT OF THE HOTEL BECAUSE OF NONPAYMENT.
Incidentally, this problem was
compounded by the fact that the charge and refund were done without my
knowledge and I was not informed about either. I only know about
the situation because I happened to check with my credit card company to verify
my available credit. If I had not found out about the situation, I would
have told the hotel to run my card, which would have resulted in a charge that
would have taken me over my credit limit, which, in turn, would have resulted
in an over-the-credit-limit penalty fee. In fact, in other, similar
incidents, this is exactly what happened.
Here’s the best way
to deal with “stupid hotel employee” problems:
plan things as if hotel employees don’t know what they are doing. They
may, of course, actually be brilliant at their jobs but you don’t know that.
not pay by cash. Your proof of payment
is weakest if you pay by cash.
by money order. You avoid the possibility of the grief that may follow
payment by credit card, debit card, or debit-credit card. Also, your
proof of payment is stronger than if you pay by cash.
4. If you must pay
by credit card, do not use more than one credit card at a hotel.
5. The best credit
card to use is a temporary credit card that you fill up with a certain amount
of money. This way it will be impossible to put you over your credit limit.
6. Do not count on
hotel employees to charge you at or after checkout time. They may take it
upon themselves to charge you before checkout time and they may do this
without your knowledge and they may not tell you about it after they
have done it. Therefore, call the hotel’s front desk at start of
business (for example, 7:00 am) on the day that payment is due and tell
them what your plans are regarding payment. If you don’t, they may
automatically charge your credit card ahead of time and, as a result, create a
problem such as the one described above.
7. Do not count on
hotel employees to leave your checkout date alone. They may take it upon
themselves to change your checkout date and they may do this without your
knowledge and they may not tell you about it after they have done
it. Therefore, call the hotel’s front desk at start of business
(for example, 7:00 am) on the day that you are scheduled to check out and tell
them what your plans are regarding checking out; that is, whether you are
checking out or staying longer. If you don’t, they may change your
checkout date without your knowledge and, then, as a result, automatically
charge your credit card ahead of time and, as a result, create a problem such
as the one described above.
8. Do not use a
debit card. You have the additional burden of the possibility of multiple
overdraft fees and, in the worst case scenario, of having your checking account
closed by your bank.
9. Do not use a
debit-and-credit combination card. You have the same problems as in item 8
above. In addition, even if you direct the hotel to use the card as a
credit card, their computer might force its usage as a debit card. Or
hotel personnel might “tell” the computer by mistake that your card is a debit
10. Always set your checkout date as the date
up until which you are paid. Do this even if you plan on staying
longer. When checkout day arrives tell the hotel if you are extending
your stay. The reason for setting your checkout date as the date up until
which you are paid is that this makes it more difficult for stupid employees to
make credit card mistakes. This is because hotels are not supposed to
charge you beyond your checkout date.
11. When you set your checkout date with the hotel,
tell them that on that date you might change your mind and stay longer.
Then, tell them to put a note in the computer that says "Guest might
change their mind and stay longer." If you don’t tell the hotel that
you might change your mind and stay longer, you might lose your accommodations
on the checkout date to another guest.
12. When paying, always specify payment in
dollars-and-cents amounts; for example, “$400.00.” Do NOT say “I want to
pay for 5 days.” This helps to avoid errors in the amount your credit
card is charged.
13. Finally, in spite of all these
precautions, accept the fact that “stupidity never gives up.” Some hotel
employee may yet find a way to create a credit card problem for you.
However, if so, you can take some comfort in the fact that you did
everything in your power to protect yourself.
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