Just when I think that I am doing OK in this modern world, something comes along to give me a reality check. I recently took a trip to Salt Lake City with a friend. We were going to a convention of a group that we belong to.
My hubby uses the internet for everything and is very capable of finding his way around the digital world, me not so much. He had booked our airline tickets which meant leaving from Kelowna to Seattle then onwards to Salt Lake. I have done quite a bit of travelling both with and without Dave, so feel confident of finding my way round airports. The friend I was travelling with is more nervous and relied on me to get us to our destination.
Parking in the long term lot in Kelowna involves a long walk to the terminal, when it is 37 degrees it feels twice as long. Trying to park as close to the terminal as possible I circled round and round the lot, but, everyone else had the same idea so the only available spots involved a long hot walk.
Getting through the airport in Kelowna is a breeze, friendly staff, short lines and very short distance to the gates. Once through the security section there is a lot of choices for eating or shopping, on the whole a nice experience. The plane was only about one third full so lots of room to spread out for the short hop to Seattle.
On arrival at Seatac airport we had to claim our baggage, walk through several tunnels then get on a train to the main terminal where we put our luggage on a conveyor. Nobody checked it or even looked at it so why had we got to collect it and haul it through the airport? We then had to go through customs and security and then follow our footsteps back to the train and to the gate for the Utah trip. The whole thing seemed to be rather ridiculous and an exercise in futility, leaving us with no time to grab a bite to eat.
Arriving at our hotel at midnight we were met with a charming desk clerk who was full of personality but a bit short on know-how as it took him over forty five minutes to check us into our reserved room. I don’t know what the problem was but we stood there forever trying to keep a smile on our faces. After a huge wait he told us we had to pay for the first night up front, no problem we both offered Visa cards and did the transaction, however, he told us that we could not get a receipt for the payment until we checked out four days later. Too tired to argue and just glad to be booked in and able to go to our room, we headed for the elevator and our beds.
The next day we slept late and didn’t go down for breakfast until almost eleven, where we enjoyed a lazy brunch. Returning to our room we found our key-cards would no longer open our door. Back down twelve floors to the desk and told them our problem. Here we were told that we had not arrived yet and were due in that night. I waved our key cards and told him we had spent the night and had paid up front. Could he see our receipts? No we were not given one, he looked as though we were a pair of lunatics standing before him and told us that we had not checked in. I was undecided as to whether to laugh or hit him but decided to try the sensible approach and showed him our key cards and explained our luggage was in the room and we needed to sort this out now. We were reluctantly given updated cards and went to our room.
At 7.00pm, returning from dinner, we still had not had room service. I called the front desk was told the room hadn’t been used the night before…aaaagh. We eventually got new towels and supplies and the maid apologised but told us the room had not been on her list as it was unoccupied.
Four days later, when we checked out we got a receipt for the four night’s payment. I once again explained that we had previously paid an extra night but had not been given a receipt. However, the computer showed the room had been unoccupied so no receipt was forthcoming. I await the Visa statement to see how much, if anything, I paid for the room.
One lunchtime, a group of four of us went to the Olive Garden ate a lovely meal and then asked for our bills, we would all pay separately. I think most of us are familiar with the hand held machine that seems to be the way to pay at all restaurants nowadays. The Olive Garden had a different machine which was more like a tablet, the waitress programmed our bills into it, handed it to the first woman and promptly disappeared. Our friend found the bill correct but the tip was pre-set to a higher rate than she normally paid so she pressed a button to delete the amount. The whole machine did some strange things and flashed on various games we could play, before shutting itself down.
Getting the busy waitress back to the table took quite a while but she eventually reappeared, did something to the machine and handed it back to the guest. This time it worked properly and asked if she wanted a receipt, however, if she did she had to enter her email and one would be sent to her computer. This was not an option she wanted to do so she pressed the no receipt button. The next guest to try the machine was shown the total of the previous person’s meal so, once again we called the waitress. She approached the table of obvious morons and gave a sigh, the first guest told her that she thought she had been charged twice as the wrong amount was showing.
The waitress got someone else to assist. They fiddled with the machine and returned it, showing that she had indeed paid twice, so more fiddling about had to be done to reverse the transaction. The next guest completed her transaction and demanded a receipt, immediately. For this she had to go to the front desk where ten minutes were spent working out how to give a paper receipt. Meanwhile I paid my bill through the machine and again pressed no email, I would have liked a receipt but was not prepared to go through any more transactions.
Out of the four of us only one guest got a receipt and goodness knows what will appear on our credit card statements. What a ridiculous way to operate, the waitresses must get lots of complaints but it is not their fault. I think they should have to stand by while the transaction is completed, but they are busy and have other tables to service.
I know that the world is getting more and more reliant on computers but my experiences in Salt Lake showed that human error is very real and hard to correct on a machine. I have one night’s hotel bill and a lunch charge which I now have to check against my Visa bill. How do I correct mistakes long distance? I have no receipts to prove I was overcharged and, in the case of the hotel, no proof that I was even there. Just as well I didn’t need an alibi for my whereabouts for my first night in town, I would be :
Ed note – never leave Oliver without a teenager!!!