Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Emotional Blackmail

I am on training at our Staines location. It is second only to Bedfont in its difficulty to visit if you live in East London. As the education was a two-day affair, I elected to stay in a hotel overnight.

It was quite an entertaining experience:

  • The internet connection didn't work. I had to be "escalated" to a "second-level" specialist before the wired connection would allow me to get online
  • Hot water came out of the tap when in the cold position. Apart from when it was lukewarm. The handyman couldn't fix it so they delivered me jugs of iced water instead. Had no other guest discovered the problem before or do they just hope nobody will complain?
  • As is common these days, the bill was slipped under my door overnight and contained a list of exciting ways to checkout on the back. Regular readers will know that I don't do queues so I thought I'd try one of them:
    • "Checkout by video". Apparently one can use the interactive feature on the TV to view the bill, enter one's address and checkout. I could view the bill, but there was no option to check out. Wonderful.
    • "Checkout by phone" (available to members of their loyalty programme only). Luckily I was a member and miracle-of-miracles my number was printed on the bill. So I logged on to spg.com (oops... I've identified the chain!). I defy anyone to figure out which link you must click on to check that the address they hold for you is correct. An utterly shocking website.
    • So I was left with no option but to queue up.

Fortunately, the queue wasn't too long and it gave me time to peruse the bill. It seems that Sheraton believe it is acceptable to add items to your bill that you haven't agreed to. This is called attempted theft anywhere else, isn't it? They had added a £1 charge for "UNICEF". As charities go, I suspect UNICEF are one of the good ones. They're almost certainly less corrupt and do more good for the world than the average UN organisation.

However, I prefer to choose where to donate my money and I like to ensure they can claim back the tax on my contribution.

Sadly, asking for a charity donation to be removed from one's bill - especially one for a quid - makes you look mean. Well, I hate being emotionally blackmailed more than I hate being frowned upon so I asked the receptionist if UNICEF would be able to claim back tax (knowing that the answer would be no). She didn't know so I asked for it to be taken off.

So, yes... I'm a coward. I couldn't bring myself to complain about the principle so I let her believe I upset that they wouldn't get enough money from this little act of involuntary altruism. Not my finest hour... but then outcomes do, after all, matter more than intentions.

However, I'm not an ogre and I've been meaning to reassess my charitable giving for some time now (I keep meaning to cancel my Amnesty membership). So does anybody have any ideas of a charity that I should divert my Amnesty donations to (with an uplift to account for my miserly behaviour this morning...)?



[EDIT 2007-10-30 13:56 - mino typos corrected]

5 comments:

Chris said...

Change it to UNICEF instead?

Jon said...

I'd suggest the Samaritans, or Mind.

But then I would, wouldn't I? Although it be hard to find objection to the work they do, I think.

Unless you're a big meanie. Oh. :p

Richard Brown said...

"Change it to UNICEF instead?"

You wag.

"I'd suggest the Samaritans, or Mind.

But then I would, wouldn't I? Although it be hard to find objection to the work they do, I think.

Unless you're a big meanie. Oh. :p"

Good idea... It's certainly valuable to give to one of the less fashionable charities... the ones with cute animals (or which make right-on students attractive to their preferred choice of mating partners) don't need my money.

jt said...

"It seems that Sheraton believe it is acceptable to add items to your bill that you haven't agreed to. This is called attempted theft anywhere else, isn't it?"

That would have been theft not so long ago but I think mobile phone companies have been trailblazing a new business model here.

Actually, maybe Sheraton were giving you more choice than before; perhaps they always used to donate to charity but never exposed the cost on your bill, until now.

As for suggestions: how about Médecins Sans Frontières?

Richard Brown said...

"Actually, maybe Sheraton were giving you more choice than before; perhaps they always used to donate to charity but never exposed the cost on your bill, until now."

It's possible, I suppose, but unlikely. Surely the great thing about their scam is that it allows them to get brownie points from everyone without actually having to spend any of their own money! (brain-dead guests will probably think the hotel is being progressive, after all).