I know there are many of you that think I have exaggerated the difficulties of life in India. Well let me give you two examples…
The night I arrived at this 5 Star International Hotel, the Taj Connemara…I enquired at the front desk – three times in the end – how to log in to our quoted two hours of free internet per day. Going up to my room, I then did as told by two of the staff here. Other examiners arrived a few days later and were each told completely different stories. At that stage I went to visit the accommodation manager to ask whether everything was ok with my login etc and that I would pay no money. He showed me the expense on the screen and told me that the amount owed would disappear on a daily basis and that on my last day there would nothing left owing. I was satisfied with that.
After a couple of weeks, I went to pay the extras bill and was surprised when the desk clerk was obviously surprised at the amount owed on internet, so we left that part of it, because, as I explained the amount was due to reduce on a daily basis. One of my colleagues received his bill and after asking was told yet another story concerning internet. This makes four stories so far! – if you have lost count 🙂
So I went back to the aforesaid accommodation manager, who now told me a completely different story. Apparently after logging in the way I did – the cheapest way on the advice of the hotel staff, I was now going to owe the hotel 20,000 rupees (NZ$650 on checkout). those of you who know me well can imagine my reaction. by the time I had finished with him – and after a day or two of waiting – he had told me that it would cost me 4500 rupees for 24/7 internet for my stay. He then did not show up at our agreed meeting time 24 hours later to pay that bill.
I spent some time and found several other hotels in Chennai, that would be perfectly OK and asked the local rep here to move me to a new hotel. He of course came back to the hotel where the Bookings manager (A more expensive suit with higher shoulder pads!) then asked to meet us all. At that meeting, it was decided that the others would pay about 3,500 rupees for the internet usage that far and I would pay 4,500 rupees for my internet use for the entire time. He also apologised that his staff did the “indian” thing of not being able to help themselves trying to sell to unsuspecting customers.
However, after that there was a snag as well that nobody (apparently) knew about. Having logged in as I did, apparently the hotel system will not let me log out, so I was logged in for 24/7 internet anyway, so I have ended up paying 4000 rupees for 24/7 internet for the nine weeks that I am here. Confused?…well wait for the next one….
We early arrivals here received a discount card, giving us 20% on our food and liquor at the restaurants here during the duration of our stay. After about 5 weeks, the manager at one restaurant told us upon presenting the bill that the hotel had revoked the discount – as they can change it at any time (See the small print David!). There were only two of us left on that by this time in the entire hotel. So we argued about it and that decision was changed. Early this week, the same thing happened again and we were told that the discount would be applied at the front desk – something I chose to not believe and told them so in no uncertain terms! Again you may smile….but I have not eaten dinner at that particular restaurant again – choosing instead to eat at the much cheaper food halls in the shopping mall next door. Still upon paying the fortnightly bill the 20% discount was actually applied to my entire bill…
The other examiner ate at a different hotel restaurant two nights ago and his discount card was received without any comment by them. So this evening he rang and suggested we eat there instead. At the end of our meal tonight, we handed in our cards as usual and the bills (eventually) arrived for signing. Mine had 20% discount on it and his did not. Apparently I now get the discount and he does not. It seems you can create a scene successfully sometimes… I left him at the front desk arguing about this tonight and escaped.
I doubt I will eat here again at night. Too many pitfalls and the story here changes depending upon who is in charge at any particular time. The food next door is much cheaper and just as good – if a little noisy at times! I could give you other examples, but they concern work things and I have made my point. However these are two examples of why I do not think this hotel should be used for Trinity-Guildhall examiners in future. They make it up to suit as they go along and the story is constantly changing.
So here are but two examples of why it is so frustrating to live and work in India. When I was offered a dessert instead of the discount, I merely answered “ No, I would prefer it if the hotel managed to keep to its word”
I think that would be a good thing for people here to remember, rather than regarding everything as an opportunity to bargain. Not everything good is available at a bargain-price!