It had been a long day of travel down to Aruba, starting at 4:30 in the morning when my wife and I got out of bed.
But after rousing the kids in the dark, finishing the packing, getting to the airport and taking the flight, we were finally at our hotel front desk around 2:30 that afternoon. The kids (10-year-old Tyler and 8-year-old Parker) had done well, but at this point they were shot. It was very hot in the open-air lobby and they needed to cool off in some air conditioning.
My wife was handling the check-in when she called me over.
“They want to upgrade us … but it’s to a room with one king bed. That’s not an upgrade,” she said. Marie had made a reservation directly with the hotel for a room with two queen beds.
“No, it’s not. We can’t all sleep in the same bed. That’s nuts,” I said.
And with that my wife gave her feedback to the service agent. In no uncertain terms she told him that we were not interested in their “upgrade” — we wanted the room we’d booked.
“Um, I’m sorry,” came the sheepish response, “We don’t have any more of those rooms available. We are oversold.”
“Please get your manager out here,” I said. “Now.”
After too many minutes, during which our anger heated to a boil, the manager finally came out. And after basically telling us the same thing as her attendant, we proceeded to tell her (in tag-team fashion) that, first of all, her ruse of an “upgrade” was insulting to our intelligence, AND that we were going to get the room we had booked. We had no intention of all sleeping in the same bed, and she had better do whatever was necessary to make it happen.
As we were in the lobby with other customers, and I felt the need to add some extra incentive for her to make us go away happy, I was not, shall we say, quiet as a mouse in voicing my point of view.
As all this was going on, we overheard a family checking in on the line next to us for their room with two queen-sized beds.
“No problem, Mrs. Smith. Your room will be read by 4,” and off they traipsed like the Von Trapp family.
My wife asked me in frustration: “Why do they get the room they wanted?”
After the manager had been in the back for at least five minutes where she had purportedly gone to “see what she could do,” the clerk in front of us, ever peering into his screen, said, “Ahh, it looks like we have your room.”
Unfortunately, in a nod to horrible customer service, the manager never came out from the back and apologized for all the trouble, and the clerk in front of us made it seem as if they’d really come through.
“I have to tell you,” I said. “You’re making it seem like you’ve done us a big favor. You’re just giving us what we’ve reserved, and after a lot of aggravation.”
“Your room isn’t ready yet,” he said, ignoring my comment. “It will be ready by 4 at the latest and we’ll send you an email.”
After calming down a bit and having a late lunch, we headed back to the front desk at 4 to get the keys and settle in. As we were doing so, the Von Trapp family had also arrived (again at the agent next to ours) to get their keys.
“I’m sorry but there’s been a slight change with your room,” the agent told them. “We have a room for you with one king bed.”
My wife and I both heard the comment and almost froze in place, certain the hotel had given their two-queen-bed room us. We could see them looking a bit stunned and definitely not thrilled, but they exhibited none of the NJ attitude my wife and I had thrown around. And so, they went quietly into that goodnight.
Feeling like bank robbers who want to flee the scene, my wife and I grabbed the keys and the kids and headed upstairs, hoping that spreading our stuff around the room would give us squatters rights, making us more difficult to dislodge.
As we were going upstairs, I tried to drive the lesson of the day home to the boys as best I could.
“Guys, as you can see, sometimes people aren’t going be fair with you, or they aren’t going to treat you the way you deserve. And when that happens you can’t just take it. You can’t just say ‘thank you’ and walk away. You have to stand up for yourself.”
If you do, I told them, you’ll always sleep like a king.