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Stupid Hotel Employees

 

 

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 experience.

 

 

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.

 

More specifically:

 

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 AVAILABLE CREDIT.

 

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:

 

1.      Always 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.

 

2.      Do not pay by cash.  Your proof of payment is weakest if you pay by cash.

 

3.      Pay 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 card.

 

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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